Just a decade ago, driverless cars and intelligent clothing were the stuff of sci-fi movies. Now driverless cars are all set to hit the road.These examples of breakthrough technologies making quick progress from the laboratory to our work spaces, homes and cars show how we as business leaders and consumers need to rapidly adapt ourselves to fast changes.
In the next few years, we will face five mega trends that will impact the way we do business and lead our lives.
Wearables and connected economy
The trend of wearables or internet of things (IoT) started with intelligent watches and wrist bands, and now we have smart eyewear, clipon devices and helmets. Clothing brands and electronics companies are now working on smart clothing that connects to the cellular network and accesses or transmits data. IDC expects the worldwide wearable devices market to reach 101.9 million units by the end of 2016 and 213.6 million units in 2020.
IoT presents a huge opportunity for businesses across sectors -from the kind of new services they can offer to ways of managing the data emanating out of IoTs.
New business models and the shared economy
Uber and AirBnB have shown us that we don't need to own any assets to run a business. Uber doesn't own a single cab and AirBnB does not own a single hotel but they have disrupted the market like no other. Lyft, a company that provides app based ride-sharing facilities in over 200 cities in the US, expects carpooling to replace car ownership, and become a major transportation trend. In a recent article, John Zimmer, cofounder of Lyft, wrote about how car ownership is falling in the US and by 2025, private car ownership in major US cities will "all-but end."
People around the world, including in India, are opening up their homes to holiday-makers through AirBnb, thus forcing hotels to relook at their business strategies.
Connectivity between devices and the network economy
The network that connects different devices, facilitates the flow of data, and allows individuals and companies across the globe to access services is the nerve center of many of today's new businesses. Cisco believes by 2020, 50 billion devices will be interconnected. The possibilities that it opens up for businesses and consumers today were unimaginable until recently. Riding on the network economy, Practo, a Bengaluru-based company, is now believed to be the world's largest appointment booking platform that handles over 40 million appointments annually.
New ways of transacting and anytime, anywhere economy
We have adopted new ways of transacting and have long since forgotten how it felt to stand in a long queue in front of a teller in the bank. ATMs, online banking and now increasingly mobile banking have taken over the traditional ways of transacting
The factors driving the mode of transaction in eretail are transaction cost, speed, convenience and security. With in-app payments such as Apple Pay, Android Pay and retailer-based payment solutions coming up fast, retailers will have to look for front-end innovations and robust back-end processes to allow customers safe and seamless transaction options.
Macro level changes and the disrupted economy
The fifth and the last factor to watch out for are macro level changes that are beyond our control and threaten to derail us from our stated objectives. In the past few years we have seen how businesses have got impacted by geopolitical changes such as Brexit or the continuing crisis in the Middle East, regulatory changes such as Sarbanes Oxley or Solvency II or demonetisation or the proposed diesel cab ban in Delhi, or natural disasters and diseases such as tsunamis, earthquakes or the Ebola outbreak in Africa or the Zika outbreak in South America.
In today's globalised world, businesses anywhere in the world can get affected and therefore, need to stay attuned to market changes and align their models accordingly.
(The author is Group CEO, WNS Global Services)