DIGITAL technology has quickly knocked some of the world’s biggest businesses off their perches and will soon make more radical changes to our everyday lives.
Tech experts have been surprised by the speed that consumers have flocked to global online platforms such as Uber and Airbnb, and believe it’s only the beginning — with artificial intelligence and internet-connected homes among the next big growth areas.
Today the world’s largest accommodation provider, Airbnb, owns no property. The biggest taxi company, Uber, owns no vehicles, and the most popular media owner,Facebook, creates no content. Weight Watchers shares slid 95 per cent between 2011 and 2015 as wearable technology such as Fitbits surged, while satellite navigation companies suffered at the of smartphone map apps.
“What’s happening right now is that consumers carry a very powerful, well-connected computer in their pocket and it’s with them all the time — that has changed everything,” said Foad Fadaghi, managing director of emerging technology analyst firm Telsyte.
He said mobile technology was flexible and had empowered consumers and entrepreneurs in ways they were not in the past.
“You log into your phone, drive your own car and suddenly you are part of this digital disruption.
“I think that the whole concept, the Uber-fication as it’s known, of many different industries is yet to happen.” Entrepreneurs would find ways to expand these platforms in areas ranging from plumbing to hairdressing, Mr Fadaghi said.
NOT YET INVENTED
Head of Deloitte Digital, Frank Farrall said the combination of mobile phones, social media, data analytics and cloud technology had grown some innovations faster than anybody had imagined.
“A lot of the easy stuff has been done, but who would have thought the taxi industry would be a target for digital disruption?” Mr Farrall said.
“Who knows what smart person is sitting in a university dormitory room right now with an idea?”
Mr Farrall said artificial intelligence was a big growth area, as technology built on technology amid exponential growth in processing power.
“It will, quite frankly, replace a lot of what people do, and people will be able to interact with technology in a more natural way,” he said.
“It started with Siri, and with robotics and AI growing at a similar rate, that will enable us to do things we haven’t thought about yet.”
Mr Farrall said while this future was exciting, he was worried that the change might happen too fast. “We went from farms to factories over a 100-year period — this could happen a lot, lot faster.”
Home automation is also set to take off.
Telsyte has forecast that spending on internet-connected home appliances and services would rise tenfold over four years, from $289 million in 2015 to $3.2 billion in 2019. It expects the average household to have 24 internet-connected devices within three years, up from nine last year, in areas such as appliances, gardening, security, sensors and lighting.
“Most people will control it by mobile phone, and as you replace your airconditioner, kettle and other appliances they will have internet connectivity,” Mr Fadaghi said
DIGITAL FOOD FOR THOUGHT
Uber — the world’s largest taxi company owns no taxis
Airbnb — the world’s largest accommodation provider owns no real estate
Skype — major phone companies do not own telecommunications infrastructure
Alibaba — the world’s most valuable retailer has no stock inventory
Facebook — the most popular media owner on the planet creates no content
Netflix — major movie houses have no cinemas
Apple and Google — large software vendors do not write the software
SocietyOne and Ratesetter — Fast-growing money lenders have no money