5 technologies that will change business as usual

A disruptive technology can be defined as an innovation that will help to develop new value networks and markets. However, these new technologies will eventually disrupt the existing value network and markets, displacing earlier technologies. Disruptive technology will often force companies to change the way that they approach their businesses, and if an organization cannot adapt, they will likely risk becoming irrelevant or losing market share.

Historically, there have been a variety of disruptive technologies that have changed the business world. The personal computer essentially displaced the typewriter, forever changing the way we communicate and work. Email also changed communication, largely displacing traditional letter-writing and causing problems with the greeting card industry. Additionally, smartphones have displaced numerous technologies with all of their available apps, including calculators, GPS devices, and MP3 players.

Technology is continuing to advance, and more innovative solutions are hitting the market. If current businesses don’t adapt, they could be at risk of becoming the next technology to be phased out. By identifying some of the disruptive technologies that are on the horizon, businesses can create a plan to adapt for the future.

1) Next-Generation Genomics

This disruptive technology combines the science used for imaging the base pairs of nucleotides (or the units that create DNA) with analytic and computational capabilities. As we better understand our own genomic makeup, we will have improvements in our ability to manipulate genes, thus improving health treatments and diagnostics. Even today, gene sequencing, synthetic biology, and analytics are improving every day, and as the ease of accessing this information improves, it will affect the treatment of diseases and the production of food and agriculture. Next-generation genomics can also be applied to our understanding of animals and plants, possibly allowing us to create high-value substances like biodiesel and ethanol from ordinary organisms.

2) The Internet of Things

The Internet of Things is a proposed Internet development in which everyday objects will have network connectivity, thus allowing them to receive and send data. These objects, which have sensors, network connectivity, and software, are already changing the way the workplace operates. For example, building surveillance systems have upgrades with connected camera systems and locks that will instantly inform managers when someone is attempting to gain entry to the facility. With sensors being added to machinery, devices, and even clothing, there will be major changes in business processes, natural resource use, energy delivery, remote healthcare, and manufacturing.

3) The Cloud

Cloud technology has become increasingly popular in recent years, and these advancements are only expected to grow. Cloud technology provides centralized computing services that can be accessed by a variety of users, including internally through a business or via a third-party organization. Cloud computing is expected to change business in a variety of ways:

    • Easier updates. Cloud service providers will handle all of the maintenance aspects regarding cloud computing, so the business world will no longer need to worry about staying on top of system updates.
    • Improved mobility. The cloud is available everywhere on the computing platform, giving the business world improved mobility. Whether your employees want to share documents with colleagues around the world or simply want to work from home, the cloud will make it possible. Additionally, it will allow your employees to get their calls through cloud based phone system from anywhere they have an internet connection.
    • Better storage security. The cloud is one of the safest ways to store data. Since your information will be stored in the cloud and not your actual device, business data is always accessible and secure.

4) 3D Printing

3D printing is a process of making solid, three dimensional objects out of a digital file. The creation of these printed objects can be achieved using additive processes, and it is changing many aspects of our society. Businesses will need to adapt their strategies to better fit the needs of their customers as 3D printing becomes more advanced. These printers could change the way that businesses make almost anything, allowing customers to make products themselves. For this reason, more thought would need to go into organizational marketing strategies in order for businesses to make their products stand out.

5) Energy Storage

Many technologies have found energy storage to be a major limiting factor, including vehicles, alternative energy production, and consumer electronics. Improved energy storage devices will hold onto energy for later use, such as lithium-ion fuel cells. Over the coming decade, it is expected that energy storage technology will continue to advance, so businesses will need to create new approaches when it comes to designing their batteries in order to stay competitive.

New disruptive technologies are on the horizon, and businesses need to take the initiative to adapt. If you have examples of other disruptive technologies you feel will soon be changing the way the world does business, we’d love to hear from you.

This article is published in collaboration with Smart Data. Publication does not imply endorsement of views by the World Economic Forum.

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Author: Being a senior business associate, Peter Davidson strives to help different brands and start ups to make efficient business decisions and plan effective business strategies.

Image: A couple walk past “Filament Lamp”, an art work installation, at a commercial center near a construction site in Beijing’s Sanlitun area. REUTERS/Jason Lee

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