Fernando Fischmann

Tech Innovation Predictions For 2016: Deeper Roots, Complex, Fascinating

12 January, 2016 / Articles

Welcome to 2016 – a year of increasingly complex technologies and near-boundless opportunities.

Innovations that could not have been imagined a decade ago are gaining traction, being commercialized and transforming traditional business — drones, driver-less cars, machine learning, digital currencies, 3-D printers, robots, gadgets for the connected home. Many of these advances on display this week at the Consumer Electronics Show certainly reflect their impact.

The fundamental building blocks of this burst of creativity are springing from data analytics, the cloud, IoT and artificial intelligence. Mobile communications is continuing to power new ideas as well, particularly in mobile-first Asian countries where messaging and payments by smart phone is more advanced than in western countries. No surprise since Asia skipped the PC era and leapfrogged western markets in mobile services and products.

The sharing economy is contributing to the spread of disruptive breakthroughs too – transportation-hailing apps and home shares have caught on in leading hubs to the point that home and car ownership may be a thing of the past for future generations.

Expect China and India to gain in technology innovation, no longer copying western business models but figuring out what works within their local markets and tailoring product features and services. The wide number of exhibits from Asia at CES in Vegas certainly speak to this trend. This trend is becoming far more pronounced as tech brands from Asia such as Xiaomi and WeChat spring up with new customized features for their markets and then gain popularity with customers internationally.

At the same time, western brands that cater their products and marketing to localized cultures overseas are becoming increasingly successful in large foreign markets, with Evernote and Uber as two examples.

Meanwhile, the startup culture that Silicon Valley is legendary for will remain in the headlines as the story goes global. Every market today seeks more than ever to capture some of the Valley’s entrepreneurial formula where fear of failure is not a given. Look for such cities as Shanghai, Tokyo, Bangalore, Tel Aviv and multiple hubs in the U.S. from New York City to Seattle to continue gaining as ideas travel easily globally.

Incubators, accelerators, bootcamps are becoming commonplace in every leading hub, and are helping to supplement the reach of venture capital and angel investment. So does crowd funding, which is providing critical funding for startups to launch.

Southeast Asian markets are also getting on the tech map in part due to their mobile-savvy young populous generation. Look for Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia to spurt ahead with their own local brands that can gain critical mass.

Entire industries are being transformed by technology. Digital currencies are disrupting financial services, drones are breaking down transportation, robots are taking the place of humans on the factory floor and the kitchen. This is only the beginning.

Meanwhile, hurdles to the advance of technology revolve around security risks and privacy concerns, which remain very much in the news. Building trust with customers in this kind of environment is tricky.

An over-arching theme is the accelerated pace of technology innovation. Ideas travel fast today globally and soon make last year’s new ideas look old-fashioned. The tech economy is moving to the forefront and is central to tomorrow’s developments as the crowded displays at the Consumer Electronics show can attest with connected gadgets from startups as well as the tech titans.



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