The world around us is changing in many unexpected ways. Some of these changes are more welcome than others, but most of them are unstoppable, regardless of what we might think of them. Virtually every change that affects our daily lives also significantly impacts at least one related industry. For example, as data has become increasingly prominent in every aspect of our lives, companies that collect and analyse large volumes of data have seen a boom in demand for their services. The data analytics industry went from being a niche industry to one of the most important in the global economy. So, what are the industries of the future?
What are the industries of the future?
Predicting the future fortunes of individual businesses or entire industries is a notoriously fickle business. However, there are some industries perfectly poised to capitalise on current economic and technology trends. Below are some of the industries we expect to prove most important in the near to mid future.
Few industries have undergone change on the same radical scale that artificial intelligence has in recent decades. What was a niche industry not long ago is now one of the most important industries on the planet. Artificial intelligence is an essential tool for numerous other industries, as well as being a critical industry in its own right. When many people think of artificial intelligence, they imagine sentient robots and machines. While giving some kind of intelligence to these machines is part of what artificial intelligence is about, it is only one small part.
In today's world, artificial intelligence is all around us, even though we are often unaware of its presence. One of the most common applications of AI today can be seen in personalised recommendations. Whether these are in-app recommendations for the music we might like on Spotify or product recommendations based on past purchases on Amazon, these recommendations are generated using artificial intelligence.
In the future, artificial intelligence will remain an important technology for these applications and will likely also find uses in the burgeoning robotics industry. Autonomous vehicles, for example, rely on a specific form of artificial intelligence, machine learning.
Machine learning is a specific type of artificial intelligence that has found myriad uses in emerging technological industries. Perhaps the most prominent implementation of machine learning currently is in autonomous vehicles, commonly known as driverless cars. Machine learning algorithms enable digital systems to automatically undertake work that researchers would previously have considered impossible. For example, with proper training, these machine learning algorithms can learn how to identify specific objects or patterns within scenes, a functionality that is essential for training driverless cars to identify road signs and potential hazards.
However, driverless cars represent just one potential application of machine learning. Researchers are already investigating other applications of machine learning in a diverse range of industries, including healthcare, construction, and even the legal profession. Machine learning is an incredibly versatile technology, and the industry that has built up around it touches on a wide range of other industries and businesses.
Few industries have undergone the same prodigious growth rate that the drone industry has over the last decade. Drones have rapidly gone from a prohibitively expensive technology that was only available to governments and large corporations to something much more affordable. There's now a thriving drone market that caters to individual buyers and small businesses, both of whom can now realistically afford to buy and operate drones. The consumer drone market surpassed $1.25 billion in the US alone with commercial and governmental customers accounting for the bulk of purchases.
Now that drones are more affordable, there are plenty of hobbyists and recreational flyers looking to buy them, but it's the multitude of commercial applications that are really driving growth in the sector. Emergency services now regularly use drones across the world to survey areas that might be dangerous for people, and any business that needs to conduct surveys or take photographs can use a drone to gain an easy birds-eye view of their subject.
Virtual and augmented reality
With Facebook's parent company Meta spending almost $4 billion in a single quarter on their metaverse initiative, it's clear that many tech businesses view VR and AR as the future. As a concept, the metaverse is still poorly defined, although that's not stopping tech businesses from throwing money at it in the hope of reaping big rewards later on. However, both augmented reality and virtual reality are well-established technologies with a plethora of potential consumer and commercial uses.
Augmented reality games, like Pokemon Go, have already proven popular and a potentially fruitful revenue source for developers willing to invest in them. AR technology also pairs perfectly with other technologies, such as Google Maps, to provide consumers with additional functionality and utility. Virtual reality has proven the more difficult technology to monetise successfully, mostly due to its relatively high cost. Whereas AR tech is relatively easy to integrate into existing technologies, such as smartphones, VR requires separate hardware and significant computing power. However, given the huge sums that Meta et al. are investing in VR products and infrastructure, things are looking bright for the future of the industry.
How can businesses capitalise on these opportunities?
All of the industries listed above are in a good position to capitalise on current market trends, but there are plenty of businesses within those sectors that will struggle or fail. To take advantage of the opportunities available to these industries, the right leadership is required.
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