Straight out of science fiction: the emerging technologies that will transform business

Robot

You might sometimes feel like you’re living in a science fiction movie. And with headlines declaring advances in deep learning AI, space tourism and even artificial wombs, it’s easy to see why.

The convergence of new technologies is having a multiplicative effect and no industry is immune. After more than five decades, Moore’s Law – the idea that the number of transistors per square inch would double approximately every two years – still holds true today. But still, the speed of innovation catches most of us by surprise; it is actually evolving at a pace that for us, as humans, makes it increasingly challenging to keep up.

The accelerating convergence of sensors, converters and networks is enabling new entrants to disrupt business as usual. This year, Tesla surpassed GM, Ford and BMW to become the fourth most valuable car company in the world. That’s a 14-year-old company outsmarting 100+ year old brands, and there’s much more to come.

So how can businesses keep pace? It’s true that you cannot outrun these trends and staying where you are means falling behind. That’s why it is critical for business innovators to be aware of the latest technology and how it can help you grow and invent the future.

Here are the top three fascinating tech developments we expect to impact businesses of all sizes in the years to come.

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. We don’t have it all figured out just yet but we know that 5G could be up to 100x faster than 4G.

It’s not solely about speed, however. The technology will also allow us to handle more traffic and more devices reliably – critical for the continued development of things like the Internet of Things (IoT), self-driving cars and drone technology, and improved mobile experiences. How would your business change if you could connect with more customers more deeply and seamlessly than ever before?

2. The emergence of robotics and self-driving vehicles

Just a few years ago, most car manufacturers believed self-driving vehicles were still a thing of the future. Now, the pace of innovation has ramped up and every major car company is racing to bring it to market today. Over time, this technology will have massive implications for everything from the ways businesses transport goods and services to who they hire, as well as public transportation and infrastructure. Society will also ultimately benefit from safer roads, whether traveling in a car or walking down the street as a pedestrian; and from more connected and therefore, more efficient infrastructure through V2X technologies – every car, every person will essentially be a known node on the network.

Engineering developments are making it easier than ever to program complex robots to communicate with sensors, steer and avoid obstacles. 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 and help businesses stay ahead of the competition. Robotics will play an important role in keeping Australian competitive in the future – from smart agriculture, remote and aged care, to advanced manufacturing and smart cities.

3. 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.

Imagine being able to avoid costly downtime or failures, particularly within your most expensive industrial-grade equipment. AR is helping revolutionise preventative maintenance, using sensor technology that allow machines to ‘tell you’ what’s wrong and then providing a visual representation of potential failures before they happen. It will make maintenance faster, safer and more effective.

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?


About the author

Matej Krajnc is Managing Director, ASEAN/ANZ at National Instruments, which equips engineers and scientists with systems that accelerate productivity, innovation, and discovery.