While it's only so possible to predict the next game-changing technology, the coming decade is sure to be loaded with the continued advancement of the nascent tech of today.
Technology research firm Gartner recently took a stab at what these advancements might look like at its IT symposium. While Gartner also released its IT predictions for 2014, the predictions at the symposium took a longer view. NetworkWorld blogger Michael Cooney reported on the forecast. Here are four of the IT predictions most relevant to small businesses and entrepreneurs.
1. 3D printing is going to cause a lot of headaches.
Duh. Except Gartner isn't just talking about what might get printed, but also the broader implications 3D printing will carry for businesses. Specifically, Cooney writes, Garnter expects about $100 billion in intellectual property to be lost each year due to the technology by 2018. "IT will need to develop ways to validate that products are genuine," Cooney writes.
2. The customer's voice is only getting stronger in the innovation process.
If you don't get the technology in place to troubleshoot by crowdsourcing soon, you're going to get left in the dust. Gartner predicts that by 2017, more than half of consumer goods manufacturers will realize at least 75 percent of their consumer R&D capabilities through crowdsourced solutions.
These first two predictions dovetail with analysis from IBM this year that a supply chain defined by open innovation and a 3D printing capabilities could lower the cost to make its products by 23 percent, and the scale required to make production cost-effective would be 90 percent lower. In other words, these technologies are for real.
3. Personal information is going to become a commodity.
Call it the Snowden effect, but consumers are about to wake up to the value of their own personal information. Gartner predicts that by 2017, 80 percent of consumers will "barter" with their data, expecting cost-savings, customization, or higher forms of convenience in exchange. Ironically, Gartner also thinks governments and companies won't even know how to handle all the information they have by 2020 and will open it up to the public.
4. Robots are going to spur revolution.
Maybe that's overstating it, but only by a bit. Digitization and robotic labor will cost a lot of folks their jobs, Gartner predicts, giving way to social unrest and public discussions about how to rethink the economy. That's coming in 2020, they say, so hold on to your hats.