Technology

The future is more predictable than you think: Five trends that will disrupt your business

Kate Eriksson /

‘Disruption’ is usually viewed in the context of a paradigm being changed and is often accompanied by the sense that it couldn’t have been anticipated. Yet, ask almost anyone if they expect their business to be disrupted and the answer will be ‘Yes’.

This is backed up by PwC’s latest research. Of 1300 respondents in its 18th Annual Global CEO Survey, 62% expressed concern about the impact of disruption in their industry, with Australian business leaders even more likely to anticipate disruptive trends than their global counterparts. 

There’s a lot about the next five years that we’re all pretty sure of. There are commonly acknowledged trends – for example, the ageing population, rising healthcare costs, use of wearables, the sharing economy, trade with Asia, a focus on predictive data, social media sharing, and the digital economy. Combine these with the Design Thinking process for innovation, which involves repeatedly testing your hypothesis and learning, and future disruptive trends should not come as a surprise, but as an opportunity.

If you ever require clarity, remember that with two billion people on social media now sharing their insights and opinions, you have access to a huge pool of market research that can help pivot you in the right direction.

If you have a small business (or want to start one), it might be worth exploring how you can incorporate or leverage some of the following trends into your roadmap or new business proposition:

 

1. Sharing economy and engaging the digital ecosystem

 

Disruption: Competitors can disrupt your traditional marketplace by using the digital ecosystem to offer new value. An obvious example of this is Apple’s movement into the music retail space with iTunes, providing instant music downloads, peer reviews and so on. Digital technology presents further opportunity for disruption: the removal of middlemen via the sharing economy and the ability to adjust scale. 

Opportunity: Consider the use of peer-to-peer services, app stores, APIs (a common platform for interaction between technologies), crowdsourcing and open innovation to stay ahead of the competition.

 

2. Cars

 

Disruption: This year, Tesla cars will be able to drive themselves 90% of the time. By 2016, driverless cars will be legal on California’s roads. Motor vehicles are expensive and used by their owners for approximately 4% of the time, meaning the industry is ripe for a sharing economy.

Opportunity: When cars become connected and then driverless, services and industries that will be significantly impacted include car repairs, insurance, car dealerships, aged care, parking, taxis, public transport, logistics, delivery and post, with new opportunities emerging throughout.

 

3. Internet of Things

 

Disruption: By 2019 the market for the Internet of Things will be larger than that of smartphones, PCs, tablets, connected cars and wearables combined.

Opportunity: The Internet of Things market is set to move from the enterprise space to include applications throughout government and the home. The main industries this relates to are energy, power and utilities, automotive, industrial, healthcare and retail. To develop a position to test and learn in this market today is relatively simple: collect a handful of sensors (e.g. http://iotlist.co), connect and monitor them.

 

4. Health

 

Disruption: The growth in health applications, devices and technology monitoring, from wellness to aged care, will continue in the immediate to long term. The value of data collected through these devices will extend from establishing historical patterns to predicting trends. 

Opportunity: Spend time discovering existing health apps: devices from walking sticks to bracelets, cameras to sleep monitors, and look up the top venture spending investments in health start-ups. This will help trigger or validate ideas. Opportunities exist to deploy, aggregate, monitor, simplify discovery of, organise or lend. The jobs and industries affected in this space will include doctors and carers, corporates, schools, sporting, pharmaceutical, hospitals and insurance.

 

5. People and learning

 

Disruption: Increasingly the workforce is changing in terms of availability of skills. People now have a more diverse portfolio of careers, while training and upskilling are becoming more necessary, prompted by rapidly advancing technology. The workforce is also demanding greater flexibility. 

Opportunity: Managing an agile workforce – think job sharing, greater use of freelance talent, remote working – as well as finding new ways to address company culture, employee satisfaction, diversity, stress management and wellness, represents significant opportunities both in existing businesses and for white space.  As people and data become more remote and distributed, issues of identity, security and trust come to the fore.

As economist Joseph Schumpeter said in 1928, “Innovation is more a feat of will than intellect.” Once you map the above predictions and their implications, the missing two ingredients are passion and action. With these, Australian businesses will be better positioned to be proactive in the global – not just the local – economy.

Kate Eriksson will be speaking on Tuesday, March 24 at ci2015 (Creative Innovation 2015) in Melbourne. Catch her talk, “50% of the future is obvious. Here’s what to do about it”.

 

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