How to make the most of the next big tech trends

With newspaper headlines declaring advances in deep learning artificial intelligence (AI), space tourism and even artificial wombs, it might be easy to feel like we’re living in a science fiction movie. But the reality is much more exciting.

The convergence of new tech trends is having a multiplicative effect and no business, large or small, is immune. The convergence is also enabling new, smaller entrants to disrupt business as usual, capture market share and create entirely new markets from the ground up.

Embracing technology, however, isn’t solely about what you create or invent yourself. It’s about how you leverage the environment, infrastructure and industry around you to provide a service, solution, or experience that enhances customer satisfaction or fulfils an unmet need or desire.

There are many fascinating developments in tech trends on the horizon. Here are three that we expect to impact businesses of all sizes and how they can help you grow and invent the future.

  1. The race to 5G

5G will be one the of biggest enablers for applications and technology for the next decade. That’s because today’s 4G/LTE wireless networks simply cannot handle the data demands of a connected future. We’re running out of bandwidth and that’s driving the race to 5G – a race that could be up to 100x faster than 4G.

It’s not solely about speed, however. 5G will be a democratiser for small businesses, enabling more reliable networks that facilitate more sophisticated and seamless customer experiences and improve the speed and efficiency of their internal processes. And with the Era of Big Data upon us, 5G will also create more opportunities for small businesses to make data-driven decisions. How would your business change if you could connect with customers more deeply and seamlessly than ever before and make decisions based on real-time data? It’s hard to say exactly, but the change will certainly be dramatic.

  1. The emergence of robotics

You might think that robotics technology is only for the ‘Amazons’ of the world but the increase in applications and acceleration of industry and consumer adoption of robotics and drone technology in just a few years has been incredible. Many companies taking advantage of drone technology didn’t even exist five years ago! And I expect agile and innovative small businesses will help unlock new applications and solutions for robotics in the future.

Growth industries that present a lot of potential for robotics in Australia include remote and on-site aged care, agriculture, and logistics and transportation. We may also see applications, however, that we don’t yet expect – everything from off-shore delivery and geotechnical monitoring, to even herding cattle.

That’s because engineering developments have made it easier than ever to program complex robots to communicate with sensors. In fact, we’re even seeing local university students design and test these robotic vehicles as part of the annual Autonomous Robotics Competition. But robots don’t necessarily have to go anywhere – smart machines can also fast-track productivity, reduce costs and help businesses stay ahead of the competition.

  1. The rise of augmented reality (AR)

We’re just starting to see AR technology go mainstream, most recently through popular games like Pokémon Go and funny filters in your Facebook and Snapchat apps. But aside from the numerous product, marketing and content opportunities created by AR, there are also some serious business benefits.

As more devices become part of the Internet of Things, data becomes more readily available and it is easier to bring compelling AR solutions to life. Small businesses could offer virtual tours, help customers visualise products on their body or in their own home or even integrate the technology into their infrastructure and building and maintenance systems.

Regardless of the technology of the day, business owners who understand the challenges unique to their industry will have a competitive advantage. Many IoT applications involve retrofitting, or adding “smarts” to existing systems and architectures. Knowing your industry and its inefficiencies is vital to finding new ways to solve challenges with new technologies. And those with the capabilities to develop services or platform agnostic solutions and APIs will be in demand in an increasingly connected world.

Disruption always seems weird until it becomes obvious that it is the better way of doing things. Exponential acceleration is the key to disruption. If we can harness power of the acceleration, we can be the disruptor. So how will you use these technologies to take your business to the next level?

Matej Krajnc, Managing Director – ASEAN/ANZ, National Instruments