By Sandra J. Lamber, IEEE Member
A disruptive technology is defined as an innovation that creates a new market or business model while replacing the old one. Historically, there have been a variety of disruptive technologies that have changed the business world. The personal computer displaced the typewriter and e-mail took the place of traditional letter writing, shaking up the greeting card industry. And smartphones, of course, have displaced numerous technologies with their apps, including calculators, GPS devices, and MP3 players.
Disruptive technologies will often force companies to change the way they operate and sell. If an organization cannot adapt, they risk becoming irrelevant. Technology is continuing to advance, and every day more innovative solutions are hitting the market. By identifying some of the disruptive technologies on the horizon, however, companies can create a plan to adapt for the future. Here are five that will make big waves.
1. NEXT-GENERATION GENOMICS
Genomics combine the science used for imaging the base pairs of nucleotides, or the units that create DNA, with analytic and computational capabilities. As a person’s genomic makeup is better understood, the medical community will have the ability to manipulate genes, therefore 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 makes it possible for everyday objects outfitted with technology to receive and send data. These objects have network connectivity, sensors, and software, and are already changing the way the workplace operates. For example, surveillance systems in buildings now have connected cameras and locks that will immediately inform managers when someone is attempting to enter the facility. With sensors being added to machinery, devices, and even clothing, there will be major changes in business processes, natural resource usage, energy delivery, remote health care, and manufacturing.
3. THE CLOUD
Cloud technology has become increasingly popular in recent years, and these advancements are only expected to grow. The technology provides centralized computing services that can be accessed by a variety of users, including internally through a business or third-party organization. Cloud computing is expected to change business in a variety of ways, including:
· Easier updates. Cloud service providers will handle all the maintenance and upgrade aspects so companies will no longer need to worry about staying on top of system updates.
· Improved mobility. The cloud is available everywhere, 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 places to store data. Since your information will not be stored on your actual device, business data is always accessible and secure.
4. 3-D PRINTING
3-D printing is the process of making solid, three-dimensional objects from a digital file. The creation of these printed objects can be achieved using additive processes, and it is changing many aspects of society. These printers could change the way businesses manufacture almost anything, and will allow customers to make their own products. Businesses will need to adapt their strategies to better fit the needs of their customers as 3-D printers and materials becomes more advanced. For this reason, more thought s to go into how to make products stand out among the competition.
5. ENERGY STORAGE
Many businesses have found energy storage to be a major limiting factor, including car manufacturer, alternative energy production, and consumer electronics industries. Improved energy storage devices, such as lithium-ion fuel cells, can hold onto energy for later use. Over the coming decade, it is expected that energy storage technology will continue to advance. Businesses will need to create new approaches when it comes to designing their batteries in order to stay competitive.
More disruptive technologies are on the horizon, and businesses need to take the initiative to keep up. If you have examples of others you feel will soon be changing the way the world does business, submit them in the comments section below.
Sandra J. Lambert is a computer networking and security specialist. She is a Cisco certified professional and has written several articles addressing cybersecurity-related issues.