How new technologies and the companies that use them will improve our lives
The Apple store is growing by over 1,000 apps per day. Between it and Android there are 4.2 million apps for us to choose from. But comScore’s recent findings that 50% of Americans download zero apps per month hints at the onset of fatigue. These numbers, coupled with research telling us that internet activity makes us unhappy, suggest that we would be better off spending less time online.
However, as new technologies integrate more with our lives through personalisation and broader connectivity, conscientious developers are creating solutions to real and often significant problems. Smartphones are getting smarter as machine learning makes giant strides, and information is more available than ever. Digital platforms can be a liberating and enabling force when used correctly. Here are four ways we at Vizions think platforms will improve our lives this year.
One of the industries most impacted by the digital revolution has been retail. There is a powerful triad at work to improve the consumer and retailer experience: big data, the global expansion of mobile usage, and continuous improvements in artificial intelligence.
For the buyer, the online shopping experience is becoming more personal. Smarter AI ensures increasingly sophisticated recommendations, and greater mobility means you can shop from anywhere.
The benefits for the retailer are significant. Analysing larger amounts of data allows businesses to anticipate how much stock to order, reducing losses from unwanted items. Meanwhile, AI can research markets at greater speeds and numbers than ever before. This allows retailers to keep ahead of trends and match consumer appetites.
Connectivity will see further advancements this year. Previously fragmented pieces of the retail story will be harmonized under facilitating platforms: consumers and experts, retailers and service providers, suppliers and delivery personnel. Services such as Zalon by Zalando – where the user is matched with a personal stylist – exemplify these benefits.
Health has already experienced significant impact from the digital revolution, but the coming years will see this increase exponentially.
Currently, to get check-ups patients must travel in person to the clinic. With healthcare platforms implementing VR technology for diagnostics, time consuming and costly visits to the doctor for minor complaints will be reduced.
Client management will also see improvements. As healthcare providers digitise their services, clients will have more access to their records, easier communication, and greater control.
The benefits flow both ways. For healthcare professionals, digitization and volume of data means they can better understand and communicate with their clients. For managers, stock can be easily tracked and ordered, hospital beds organised, and house-keeping notably improved.
What’s more, McKinsey research records a real desire for the digitization of healthcare with 75% of all patients questioned expecting to use digital services in the future.
Digitization has disrupted workplace culture greatly. LinkedIn is an obvious forerunner of this movement, having changed how many think about networking.
Perhaps the biggest change in working culture is in the shape of the ‘gig economy’. Also known as the ‘Uber effect’, the gig economy describes the ever growing trend of ad hoc hires. For those who like to make their own hours, this is a great development, and for employers who have erratic periods of activity, the increased availability of freelancers means they can contract people as needed.
The office place itself is also experiencing a sea change. With cloud computing, it’s easier for staff to work from home; great for parents, those with disabilities, or home carers. The cloud also allows collaborators to share information globally and almost instantaneously. Dropbox, Google Drive and Microsoft’s One Drive are cheap and intuitive storage/transfer platforms.
If employers are worried about a lack of contact, then virtual reality and 3D printing offer solutions in VR meetings and materialization of products respectively.
Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, et al, demonstrate obvious ways in which platforms have changed our lives. But the social aspect has also received heavy criticism. So how will social platforms improve our well-being?
The simplest answer is greater contact. Not only do social platforms allow users to stay in touch, they also facilitate sharing live experiences, photos, music, setting reminders for important events, and organising meet-ups. Now that video is hitting a peak on social media platforms, people will feel more connected than ever. Add VR technology into the mix, and global contact gets more exciting still.
Social platforms are also becoming more sophisticated with machine learning. Bots will utilize data generated by users in order to better understand valued relationships, streamline content of interest, and personalise marketing. As humans interact with the bots, the service will only continue to improve.
A Smart Future
The rise and further implementation of digital technology has been a point of concern for many. However, by connecting people globally, streamlining systems, and offering new and exciting solutions, platforms can be beneficial. As artificial intelligence, virtual reality, and big data continue to leap forwards in sophistication we’ll find that platforms are able to offer even more solutions. Life becomes easier in a simplified but vastly expanded ecosystem of platforms.