One of my favourite presentations each year at the Our Crowd Global Investor Summit is the Top Ten Tech Trends. I always find this a great thought stimulator, and this year was no exception. These were this years trends, and I’ve added my thoughts around each of them.
Education Gets Smarter
Education, alongside health, is one of the last major industries yet to face significant technology driven disruption. Could this year be the one where we really start to see a significant shift in the way education is delivered? With nearly all students now born in the digital era and used to having content in every other part of their lives delivered digitally, it can’t be long before the days of lugging backpacks full of text books and starting the school year with every parent’s dread – the stationery order – come to a close.
Cracking Down on our Sugar Problem
The health challenges that overconsumption of sugar is creating are well documented. Statistics around the increase in type 2 diabetes diagnoses are alarming, and the continuing rise of obesity levels is putting healthcare systems globally under significant strain.
There’s big business opportunities for anyone who can provide potential solutions for this. At CES in January you couldn’t miss the number of digital health products focused on diabetes management, and we’ve been doing some work recently with Sweetch, the Israeli based behavioural modification platform whose initial focus on diabetes has delivered impressive results.
Prevention is always better than cure, and I loved both the approach and the story behind DouxMatok, who have developed a way of enhancing the sweetness of sugar allowing 40% reductions in the amount of sugar used, with no change to taste and mouth feel. The company was launched by a father and son team 2 years ago, when the father was a lazy 98 years old! Professor Abraham Baniel is a food scientist with an incredible career, who is now 100 years old and was honoured with the Maimonides Award at the Summit with a well deserved standing ovation from the packed auditorium.
GreenTech Gets the Green
Impact investing is gaining significant momentum, as increasing numbers of investors flock to companies who can deliver returns over and above the financial. Tech that delivers positive social good and/or global impact is red hot, with companies who are focused on dealing with some of the world’s big problems attracting significant investment dollars. Expect to see this space grow significantly as the dollars flow, proving that you can make money while doing good.
Give the Data Power Back to the People
I don’t think there’s too many of us who are unaware of the shifting attitudes in regards to the ownership and sharing of data. Consumers are increasingly aware of the power of their data, and demanding that enterprise is respectful in the manner in which it is used. Business models that improve consumers abilities to manage their own data and the way it is used and shared are on the rise, putting the power back in the hands of the people.
Bio-mimicking Will Heal Us
This was a concept that I found intriguing, taking inspiration from the natural world to develop solutions for human problems. It’s a mechanism that’s delivered game changing pharmaceutical products over the years – think digitalis, penicillin etc etc – but is now expanding into things like new generation hearing aids inspired by the ways the fly’s ear works! This is definitely a space I’m going to be watching with interest.
Mother Nature is Angry
Extreme weather events are becoming the norm, and technology that improves our ability to predict them and then better manage their consequences is definitely a hot spot for investment, excuse the pun!
Cyber Goes Everywhere
With connected devices omnipresent in all aspects of our lives now, the need to manage the security of these devices is continuously increasing. Being able to order groceries from your fridge is very convenient, but less so if it allows a hacker access to your financial details. Connected cars are common on the roads, but there are security risks in having individuals able to access details of your movements, never mind the potential for chaos if a bad agent takes control of one or more vehicles on a crowded roadway. Companies that provide solutions to securing our connected world can expect an increasing demand for their product.
Farm Data is the New Fertilizer
For years the major factors driving crop success were rainfall and sunshine, but now data is playing just as important a role. Technology is enabling farmers to monitor everything from soil hydration to crop readiness to pest levels, and manage their responses proactively. The guesswork is being taken out of harvesting, with data predicting when crops will deliver peak yields, and even seeing harvests done by drones, who can be flown in at the precise moment required.
As the world’s population growth sees an increased demand for food, the need to optimise yields is going to increase in parallel so ag-tech is going to continue to be a hot growth space.
Flying Cars are Taking Off
With road congestion continuing to increase globally, solutions which utilise the remaining available space continue to attract interest and investment. I’m not sure how soon we’ll reach the Jetson-style nirvana of all zipping around in pods in our unique lanes in the sky, but its definitely getting closer to becoming reality. In the meantime alternative transportation options like Hyperloop continue to gain momentum. Maybe there’s hope yet that some kind of high speed link down Australia’s eastern seaboard might actually occur in our lifetime?
Robots Will Eat Your Paperwork
Companies globally still spend billions of dollars on billions of human driven processes, and as robotic capabilities continue to increase we can expect to see significant change here. Daniel Kahneman, winner of the 2002 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences, voiced his view in another session at the Summit that the disruption facing the white collar workforce is still vastly underestimated, so there’s sure to be some big winners amongst the tech companies developing solutions in this space.