We’re living in the digital era - a time of fast and far-reaching technological innovations that influence and affect our personal and work lives on a daily basis. The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated digital transformation, and as the technological world is moving at such a pace with no signs of slowing down, businesses are having to adapt continually in order to meet ever-changing consumer demands. Mobile apps have become indispensable companions that people have come to rely on in their everyday lives, cloud computing has become all-important for collaboration, artificial intelligence and automation is improving operations at a rate of knots… and this is just scratching the surface. Businesses are relying heavily on technology to transform their operations in order to simply keep up. It’s safe to say that all industries use technology in some shape or form - some have been utilising technology heavily for years, but some industries have managed to operate with minimal tech input.
In this blog, we’re going to take a look at the industries that have only in recent years been forced to rely on tech to drive innovation and growth, and stay ahead of the curve in an ever-evolving world.
Which industries have become more reliant on technology to drive innovation and growth?
The healthcare sector has historically resisted the use of technology for remote appointments, until the outbreak of Covid-19 when it was forced to adapt, and quickly. Apple, Google and Microsoft have all played their part in facilitating virtual healthcare appointments via their chat and video apps (for example FaceTime, Skype, Zoom, Teams) and the industry saw the fast and innovative development of apps such as Test and Trace. Other technological advancements over recent years include telemedicine, portal technology, remote monitoring technology, wearable / sensor technology, wireless communication, artificial organs, 3D printing, data interoperability, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML). Robotic surgery is also rapidly advancing.
The pandemic highlighted the need for solutions for the elderly within their own homes and residential settings. Residential care facilities have been taking measures to upgrade their digital infrastructures as social distancing and isolation measures were introduced. In order to combat the crippling effects of loneliness, caregivers relied heavily on digital communication platforms to connect residents with family members and friends. In addition to everyday home safety devices such as cameras, alarms, monitors and wearable devices, the research and development of robotic carers is advancing at pace.
Virtual fitness has taken off exponentially over the last eighteen months as the fitness industry turned digital when bricks and mortar gyms were closed due to Covid. Online classes by video or live streaming apps and virtual reality trainers (think Peloton) are ever popular. In addition to exercise classes, wearable technology and fitness trackers have come on in leaps and bounds.
The face of retail has changed exponentially in recent years. Consumers yield the power as they decide what they want, when they want it, and how they want to receive it. From small independent retailers to nationwide brands, businesses have had to invest in enhanced ecommerce in order to fulfill demand. As physical shops were closed due to the pandemic, larger organisations invested in AR / VR technology to enable potential customers to try before they buy (for example, viewing how home furnishings would look in their current homes). Beauty companies have developed apps to allow customers to virtually try on makeup, and clothes retailers have invested in virtual catwalks and digitised collections. Grocery fulfillment centres are relying on automation and sophisticated robotics, and AI and chatbots are increasingly used in retail customer service centres.
Entertainment and leisure
Since the pandemic, the real world was quickly replaced with online entertainment and events, from e-sports and online quizzes to online parties and family gatherings. From virtual reality activities, AI created media content and gaming on the blockchain to concerts in your own front room and IoT enabling online events at museums and art galleries.
The Internet of Things (IoT)
The IoT refers to the increasing number of everyday devices, appliances or objects that are connected to the internet and which gather and receive information - from smartphones and smartwatches to televisions and refrigerators, the ability of objects to connect to and share information with each other is rapidly changing the world we occupy and the way we live. It’s estimated that there are over 20 billion smart devices, and that number is expected to grow to at least 200 billion connected devices in the very near future.
This particular industry is transforming faster than any, as the technology that enables the construction of a three-dimensional product from a digital model infiltrates many other industries such as healthcare, construction and aerospace.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML)
AI and ML are transforming the world we live in, as machines learn and act intelligently, enabling them to make decisions, undertake tasks and predict future outcomes based on data.
From intuitive Google searches to Amazon product recommendations and personalised suggestions on Netflix, to facial recognition, chatbots that can write, and robots that can talk (Alexa). AI is set to infiltrate our lives even more so as the ability for machines to act intelligently continues to improve.
Cloud kitchens or virtual kitchens are fast becoming part of everyday life as more consumers are opting to have food delivered to their homes. Businesses have turned to technology to enable them to offer fast and convenient food delivery services, from the development of mobile apps and online ordering systems to contactless payments and automated inventory management systems. Digitalisation in this sector is enhancing rapidly.
Customer service centres have seen huge advancements in technology in recent years, more so since the closure of physical stores during lockdown. From cloud-based call centres to the use of conversational AI and chatbots for order processing, cancellations, refunds and general queries, technology continues to replace human interaction.
Banking has historically been customer-facing, but in recent years the use of AI and robotics in back-end operations has increased, automating administrative tasks that would have previously been handled by people. Rapid Response Virtual Agents have been deployed to alleviate pressures in busy call centres and chatbots and virtual assistants are becoming more popular. The demand for contactless payments has increased, as has branchless banking, and the demand for digital banking solutions (including loan and insurance tech) continues to increase. Financial Services businesses are utilising Blockchain and Fintech to transform their existing business models and Machine Learning is being leveraged for further advancements in automation.
The legal industry has been leveraging technology more and more in recent years to include intelligent chatbots for customer service, machine learning for fraud detection, blockchain for moving money around, and cognitive search and data analytics.
Public transport has historically been seen as tedious, unreliable and uncomfortable, but the advent of technology has enabled the industry to better provide for its customers. From digital timetables, contactless payments and the use of big data to track the whereabouts of buses, trains and taxis, to the use of data analytics to identify and fix inefficiencies within systems - this industry is utilising tech more and more.
The automotive industry is experiencing incredible acceleration in the way it uses technology - hybrid and fully electric vehicles are no longer a pipedream but are part of our reality, although the technology for them is not as mature as it could be and is likely to develop even further over the coming years. The software systems within vehicles are increasingly intuitive and advanced, from GPS and media to safety systems. Industry advancements are relying on connectivity, electrification, shared mobility, AI, big data, data analytics and the IoT.
Energy utilities and water
In recent years oil, gas and electricity have become increasingly tech-dependent industries. Advanced technologies have aided in the development of microgrids and smart-grid technologies, transmission gear and sensors, smart meters and battery technology. Water companies are using sensors and real time data analytics in order to conserve resources and reduce waste, and data analytics are providing solutions to identify anomalies. The IoT, VR, AR and drones are set to further enhance safety, effectiveness and efficiency within the industry. Advances in technology related to solar power are happening at break-neck speed too, and is said to be the world's fastest growing energy technology from floating solar farms (floatovoltaics) and building-integrated photovoltaics to photovoltaic solar noise barriers and wearable solar fabrics.
Technology in farming - who would have thought it? However this industry is fast becoming reliant on technology as experts are constantly looking for ways to increase crop production to serve the world's growing population. The industry is utilising big data analytics to monitor, manage and understand outputs, as well as utilising advanced tech in farm machinery and farm vehicles.
Construction / Engineering / Architecture
Here we are experiencing huge waves in technologically advanced equipment which is revolutionising these industries. From safety-conscious wearables and autonomous vehicles, to BIM and drones, the technology landscape is shifting at an incredible pace. We’re talking about autonomous vehicles, electromobility, connected machines, telematics, virtual reality, big data, 3D printing, robotics, this industry is fast becoming smarter and more connected.
It’s safe to say that most, if not all industries of the future will be powered by technology, and businesses and individuals will continue to rely on such advancements to keep pace with our fast-moving and ever-evolving world. From living robots and pets (think robotic guide dogs) and self-driving or flying cars, heart-monitoring t-shirts, floating farms and self-insulating bricks… the future is indeed bright!
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