In line with our recently held SME Beyond Borders – 4X conference, the team at SME Advisor felt compelled to assess the top trends that we think will have a major impact in four years to come. Here are our two cents on what to expect in the future…
- Staying human, in the world of AI: In four years, i.e. by 2021, most processes will be automated and probably more intelligent in processing tasks. So, the challenge is how do we keep up? Empathy has been a huge conversation and will be a differentiating factor for companies in how they deal with customers.
- Focusing on renewable energy and sustainability on a micro-level: This will no longer be a mandate on a citywide or country level. Neighbourhoods, local businesses and even households will need to get prudent about energy consumption. We will see products and services within these areas move to the forefront.
- A deeper commitment to education: A focus on education is nothing new and this is something that has received increasing attention over the past few years. The fourth industrial revolution, however, has made this one of the most critical areas. As labour markets get disrupted rapidly by technology, there is an urgency to revamp traditional school systems. Experts suggest skills-based training is what will help the new generation thrive in the age of AI. Research by the World Economic Forum highlights that more than one-third of the skillsets required by 2020 don’t even exist today. in fact, Bill Gates recently pledged US$ 1.7 billion to x the US education system in light of these facts.
- From manufacturing to ‘biofacturing’: Genetic engineering is another area that has seen a significant amount of research and investment. Yet, it hasn’t fully come into the spotlight. in four years, we predict this becoming a major force – especially in areas like agriculture, where plant-breeding can improve crop yield and reduce genetic bottlenecks. Speaking of other areas of biofacturing, Mike Moradi, Co-Founder and CEO, Sensulin, and Lin Yang, Founder and President, innovation ideas institute (3i), in their article on weforum.org, explain: “Perhaps the single most disruptive change will follow developments in genetic engineering, as bacteria, algae and other cells become the factories of tomorrow. Tomorrow, products like automobile frames may be “woven” from graphene and spider silk or skyscraper frames grown from bedrock to the clouds by an array of microscopic creatures with little human intervention.”
- Technology will drive humanitarian initiatives: Social impact driven by technology will surpass any economic or business impact. in light of recent natural disasters, there has been a stark realisation that technologies like drones and satellite surveillance can help provide aid at a significantly faster rate than ever before. Not just that. Even simple mobile technology can play a pivotal role in humanitarian emergencies by enabling cash transfers or boosting connectivity.
- Eliminating inequality with digital literacy: In emerging countries like Indonesia, digital literacy is at the forefront of the country’s agenda as they improve access to services like banking, online learning and so on. In fact, online learning programmes are reaching a demographic that has never been tapped before raising awareness about hygiene, healthcare and basic financial management.