Technology is supposed to make all of our lives easier. After all, where would we be without computers? From our offices to our homes every aspect of our lives has been made more efficient through technological advances. New Tech, when combined with insight, however, can spark positive change on a worldwide level. In this article, we’ll review some major innovations with global impact.

Back in the 1980s, the Public Broadcast Company offered a TV series that demonstrated how early inventions influenced future innovations which prompted even further technological development through the ages to the present day and beyond. “Connections” ‘, hosted by British scientist Dr. James Burke, explained in layman’s terms how great minds have influenced each other and thereby improved all our lives. Mindful of Burke’s hypothesis, here are the emerging technologies for the coming decade that will support existing initiatives to improve the ways business is conducted as well as how we continue to live.

INTERNET OF THINGS (IoT): The first time this author heard this expression was 15 years ago in an advice column from a financial publishing guru. The article heralded IoT as the investment possibility of the future and advised that one should get on board before the lemmings. But what is it? The Internet of Things can be loosely defined as the relationship and reliance upon computers and similar devices, such as digital machines, objects, animals or people featuring unique identifiers. These identifiers can be used to transfer data over a network without the need for human intervention. When we tell you that Smart devices are common examples, you’ll immediately understand where we have come from, although it may not be clear where IoT will be taking us next. Today IoT is influencing the future of people, places, things, and businesses, including, would you believe, -Marketing?

5G (6G/7G/8G): For most of us, 5G simply means a visit to their cell phones carrier’s website or brick and mortar for a Smart Phone upgrade. In reality, 5G networks facilitate moving, manipulating, and analyzing data via WiFi. For businesses, it will level the playing field to enable emerging markets to participate in the same arenas as more mature enterprises. For investors, it is easy to understand that the race goes to the swift. This means those who back developers who offer solutions to specific industries, as well as those companies, will also profit. The potential boost offered to the global economy by responsible and considered 5G development is said to be staggering.

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE (AI)/ VIRTUAL REALITY (VR)/AUGMENTED REALITY (AR): While different by definition and scope, it is expected over the next decade that these three disciplines will interact and interrelate to create business solutions. Of these, AI is the best known and is already part of our daily lives via interactive websites and bots. This trend will continue. Currently, AI is frequently behind the technology that increases data security. Over time it is expected to enhance the speed with which decision-makers can facilitate change as well as to further enhance its original purpose (back in the 1980s) to train employees virtually. For many years Fortune 100 companies have invested in AI solutions as a means to increase staff efficiency and to increase output/productivity while decreasing operating costs. Going forward, AR and VR which offer a combination of mixed reality and sensory technology, are being incorporated as team players to produce optimal business outcomes.

ROBOTICS/DRONES: From the first time we saw images of automobiles advancing on an automated assembly line, to the windowless mega warehouses that dot many an interstate, even to the disc-shaped vacuums no Millennial household wants to be without, robotics have held our interest and sparked our imaginations. Development and integration with drone technology now enable automation without geographic restrictions. The possibilities are endless: future services alone could include postal and package deliveries from local depots or even around the globe.

BIOMETRICS/3D PRINTING: Several years ago, this author remembers inadvertently witnessing a 3D printer demonstration with the awe and wonder of a child. Its possibilities seemed endless. Currently, this technology offers a low-cost solution for manufacturers of complex parts including medical devices. From mobile devices to home security systems, Biometrics is quickly becoming the chief means to verify identity. Biometric face, fingerprint, and retina scans combined with 3D Printing will facilitate forensics, as well as offer more secure encryption options.

BLOCKCHAIN: Overhyped from the get-go, blockchain is still a mystery to most consumers and many investors. Simply put “block” = the digital information that is stored in the “chain” = public database. An example most of us can relate to is the marked change in delivery speed for our online purchases over the past few years. Blockchain technology says, “You’re welcome!” Blockchain also utilizes Bitcoin to facilitate and provide transactional security and is well-regarded in the banking and financial sector. Hype notwithstanding, blockchain’s future looks bright- and lucrative.

SERVERLESS COMPUTING: This advance enables firms to create a NoOps IT environment- one that is automated and abstracted from its basic infrastructure. The goal is to reduce operational expenses in favor of more significant core business value-adds. As with all new technology aimed to move data, encryption and security will prove to be as important as the technology itself.

Today’s technology is the realization of yesterday’s dreams. So while some of the innovations reported above may seem to owe more to Buck Rogers than reality, each does exist and all are in successive generation status. It will be interesting to observe how not only how each continues to evolve but also synergizes with future technologies as these emerge. We’ll all just have to stay tuned!