Trendhuis’ Nathalie Beckx checks her crystal ball and says it’s all about opportunities and enriching your business.
“The Pokémon Go-hype gave many of us our first taste of augmented reality: using a screen or glasses to see an extra layer of information on top of the actual reality. A lot of retailers jumped on the bandwagon with Pokémon’s parent company and turned their shops into real hotspots for (potential) customers by allowing Pokémons to be caught there.
I think we’ll be seeing a lot more of that in the coming years. Or things like Zombie Run: instead of the boring old morning run, you have to run to stay out of the hands of zombies.
We’ll see more Virtual Reality turning up as well. Difference here is that you’ll be seeing and experiencing a completely new, alternative reality. The technology to do this cost thousands of euros until very recently, but now you can already set yourself up for a fraction of that.”
“Everything will be interconnected and thousands of objects will be sharing data. A lot of cities are already working on this: Antwerp, for example, where trash bins now come with sensors that only send a signal when they’re actually almost full.
Internet of Things will also bring a lot of opportunities for small businesses. Think about live tracking of your car fleet, smart locks that can be controlled remotely, devices and machines that can be monitored from a distance, etc.”
“We’re already experimenting with new standards for wireless data transfer. The new speeds we’ll reach will bring a lot of opportunities for businesses to exploit. I’m thinking about health care, where you can monitor patients from a distance. Did they take their medication? What about their blood pressure? Are they doing their exercises? This will create new needs for apps, developments and more.”
“Software and robots that converse with customers (ex. to make appointments or provide customer service) are getting more realistic by the day. Google and Amazon already have Google Home and Echo. Devices you can talk to and which you can give certain instructions. Like ‘book a hotel from six to eight February in London.’ Taco Bell has a bot on their web site that will take your order.
This type of artificial intelligence is really set to take off in a big way. And some of the applications can be surprising: like social bots that talk to people suffering from dementia who often repeat the same questions: where am I? What day is it? Where is my son? Things like that. IBM have developed software that helps you choose the right wine for every meal. Small examples, but the sky is the limit, and there is no end to the things you could develop to use, for instance, in a retail environment.”
“Most people will have heard about bitcoin, the electronic internet currency, but the real revolution is in the blockchain, the technology used to make bitcoins (and a lot of other things) possible. Virtually everything that involves intermediaries and contracts – in any domain – could be automated and replaced by blockchain technology.”’
“This is again a matter of tech becoming ubiquitous. Big data is getting to a point that more and more smaller businesses are now able to apply it, i.e. to manage customers. Or to provide personalised experiences and offers. Or to predict market conditions. The possibilities are endless.”
After a career in media and journalism, Nathalie Bekx started the research and communication agency Trendhuis. She’s been lecturing on trend research and marketing and communication at various business school and is in big demand as a speaker, both in Belgium and internationally.
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