With the adoption of Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa, the Internet of Things (IoT) is already part of our home lives.
Many of us also use a smart thermostat to monitor the temperature of our living rooms, and maybe even a smart doorbell to keep an eye on the front porch.
But what about beyond our homes and yards? The IoT promises to change many aspects of our lives, so I asked 14 entrepreneurs from YEC the following question:
What technologies do you think are likely to change the way people do business?
I definitely believe embedding communications via WebRTC (Web Real-Time Communication) will be the next big thing for businesses, especially since it directly affects our rate of communication and in turn our rate of efficiency. Anything that will make life easier will affect our productivity and is going to be here to stay. – Phil Laboon, WUDN
2. Big data and machine learning
Big Data and machine learning may not be easy to visualize like autonomous cars or 3D printing, but it’s one of the most impactful sets of technologies affecting business. Big Data and the machine learning algorithms that are being applied to handle such massive volumes of information are not only providing consumer-centric services that are better than before, but also empowering B2B companies to operate faster and more efficiently. Over the next few years, expect Big Data and machine learning to continue transforming how we share and transact. – Doreen Bloch, Poshly Inc.
3. Driverless cars
There’s a reason why “driverless” is the new buzz word: It’s going to completely disrupt daily travel and make the world a much more productive and safe place. Hundreds of thousands of people commute to New York City every day to work, and many of them drive cars. When you are driving a car you aren’t nearly as productive as you would be if you didn’t have to drive. Driverless cars allow you to multitask between phone calls, editing or creating documents, and generally getting work done. It will be like working from your office, and you will be less likely to get into an accident. – Kristopher Jones, LSEO.com
4. 3D printing
Once 3D printing takes more of a hold on the business world, you’ll be able to prototype products with just the touch of a few buttons (saving time and money). Manufacturing should become much more streamlined and cost-effective, and businesses will have the ability to customize its products to meet specific customer needs with ease. – Andrew Schrage, Money Crashers Personal Finance
5. Onboarding bots
Crafting a great onboarding experience should be done with the same level of scrupulous attention that we invest in other things. Ben Horowitz often talks about the importance of putting at least as much effort into a new hire’s onboarding experience as you do during the recruiting process itself. In my observations, we founders don’t do a thorough enough job here. Sloppy onboarding turns into sloppy culture. Employee onboarding is in the DNA of admired companies, so bots can help users properly curate the onboarding process making it consumable, delivering it to you quickly on your phone. – Ryan Stoner, Phenomenon
6. ToT e-Commerce
With more and more electronic items being connected through the IoT, consumers will have an opportunity to use that connection to make quick buying decisions. Imagine looking inside your refrigerator and seeing that you’re low on a staple item. Now imagine if you could order that item online right from your refrigerator panel. Amazon is capitalizing on this with their Dash Button. As more of our lives are connected through the IoT, we’ll be able to automate routine tasks like buying staples and supplies that take time away from what’s important: our family and our businesses. – Nicole Munoz, Start Ranking Now
7. Voice UI
Amazon’s Alexa is the first piece of technology that has truly opened up the potential for voice interactions because it really works the way you expect. It’s just a matter of time before our new habits start to trickle into our work lives. Voice UI is going to become more and more trusted in business environments – especially in communal areas. We’re going to order supplies, buy lunch for the team, start conference calls, dim lights for demos, and more. Overall it’s the social aspect of voice and it’s marriage with IoT that’s going to to enhance and change our business environments. – Marat Stary, getPartnered
8. Data-driven decision making
There are many emerging technologies that are changing the way people do business. The more data that is available, the more qualified decisions can be made. There is a lot of information available that has not been formatted in a meaningful way. One example is the growing argument of how big physical storefronts should be versus online inventory. Retailers are shifting towards carrying more product online as more and more information is collected. – Jayna Cooke, EVENTup
9. Augmented Reality
Imagine test driving a car or swimming with dolphins from your home. The sounds of an engine or the ocean make it seem like you are immersed in a world that in fact is only an augmented reality. Augmented reality will have a huge impact on how businesses operate and allow for new and innovative ways to buy and sell products and experiences. – Obinna Ekezie, Wakanow.com
10. Virtual assistants
Virtual assistants like Siri, Cortana, Google Now and Alexa are changing the way we search for products and services. More and more people are using VAs on mobile devices instead of navigating to a desktop search engine. This will reshape the advertising and marketing industries as marketers continue to look for new ways to get in front of an audience that isn’t browsing the web on desktop computers. – Guillermo Ortiz, Geek Powered Studios
11. Predictive maintenance
The most exciting IoT opportunity this year is predictive maintenance rather than preventative maintenance. Business machines (pumps, vehicles, manufacturing lines, etc.) have routine preventative maintenance to prevent breakdowns and stoppages. Stoppages are costly and preventative maintenance replaces parts before their useful life comes. However, this method is wasteful, costly and unpredictable. By combining IoT and machine learning we can start to predict machine breakdowns before they happen. Big companies like IBM for manufacturing lines, and new startups like Preteckt in long-haul trucking, are pioneering the space. – Eric Mathews, Start Co.
12. Workplace automation
Trends related to automation across the workplace, like smart technology around how people sit and stand at work, are going to take off. Some of us have wearables today that say, “Hey it’s time to get up, it’s time to walk around,” but I would love to see our chairs, desks, and lamps adjust during the day for our comfort level, for our need to be mobile, and for our need to be able to focus. This will help combat the mid-afternoon slump. – Cassandra Bailey, Slice Communications
13. RFID and Bluetooth devices in warehouse operations
Networked RFID and Bluetooth devices are changing the way inventories are handled in warehouses. They can help to expedite and automate order processing so that customers get their products faster. I think this is the biggest development that will change how online retail businesses do business over the coming year. – Zev Herman, Superior Lighting
Businesses will be marketing to and servicing consumers through conversational messaging bots on platforms such as Facebook Messenger, Apple iMessenger and Slack. These programmed chatbots will recommend products, answer questions and even tell jokes. Furthermore, they will also provide engaging 24/7 customer service at a lower cost. – Adelyn Zhou, TOPBOTS
This post is part of our contributor series. The views expressed are the author's own and not necessarily shared by TNW.