7 Technologies That Will Disrupt the Industry in 2020

TSP • @myTSPnet


There are two definitions for disruptive. The first, to throw a process or activity into disorder, is more traditional. But there is a second emerging meaning, listed in Google’s definition (but not Webster’s): innovative or groundbreaking. The first definition has a negative connotation, but the second seems positive. On one side, we have a disruptive weather pattern — something that breaks apart, ruptures and tosses the arranged into disorder. Here, there is implied destruction. But the other side of the disruptive coin, the inventive side, brings attributes of ingenuity and originality. It’s pioneering, groundbreaking. Radical.

Change brings disruption, along with the challenges of learning new things. Twenty years ago, the thought of a computer in your pocket was science fiction. Road maps were hard to fold, and when you finished a paperback book in the middle of a long trip, you were out of luck.

In technology, disruption occurs when an innovation creates a new market and eventually displaces an established market. The term took off after Harvard professor and businessman Clayton Christensen coined it in his 1997 book, The Innovator’s Dilemma, where Christensen said successful companies do not just meet current needs, they anticipate unstated and future needs to the point that they displace the established system.

Disruptions generally take years to adapt, but with more frequent technology use and easier accessibility for innovators, disruptions now seem to happen almost overnight. These are the seven technologies that could shake up the industry in 2020.

Employee experience is one of the most important parts of a company culture, and more businesses are investing in better video communication technologies to connect remote workers and more closely replicate face-to-face interaction. Some predict that video communication will benefit from enhancements such as virtual reality and other immersive tricks and tech, enabling better content sharing and improving meeting efficiency and quality.

3D printing is far from a new technology; it started in the early ‘80s and made history in 1984 when Charles Hull invented stereolithography, which lets designers create 3D models with digital data that can then be converted into a tangible object. Today, 3D printing has evolved to construct everything from food to metal composites with almost zero waste, but as technology and ease of use continue to improve, the technology could disrupt major industries. The technique has implications in healthcare (synthetic tissues, prosthetics, wearable devices), architecture (prefab houses, door frames), and fashion (custom shoes, jewelry).

There has been a lot of hype around immersive virtual experiences, which emulate a physical world within a digital or simulated world, but options have been slow to actually come to the market. Keep an eye out for these emerging formats: 360 and AR. 360 technology allows the user to feel surrounded by a particular scene, letting them interact with content as if it is in real life. AR stands for augmented reality, which includes Snapchat filters and games such as Pokémon Go. Stores such as Ikea and Target have developed AR apps that let shoppers choose a product, such as a table, and virtually place it in their homes.

It’s the 2020 equivalent of the space race. The scramble to achieve fifth generation (5G) cellular wireless service. All major U.S.-based cellular carriers now host some form of 5G wireless service, although rollouts are limited to a handful of cities, and phones that can handle the speed are expensive and likely won’t support future 5G networks.

If you’re confused about exactly what 5G is and what it will mean for you, you’re not alone. Initial standards defining 5G were set at the end of 2017, but every carrier’s service will be a little different. Here’s the bottom line: The fastest 4G modem today runs a maximum of two gigabits per second, but 5G’s maximum is about 10 times that speed.

“Alexa, turn the temperature up!” “Siri, navigate to my next appointment!” If you turn the lights on with an app, check home security footage when you’re traveling, set outdoor lights to sync with sunrise and sunset and turn on sprinklers if it hasn’t rained for a few days, you’re using the Internet of Things.

If flipping on lights with a switch is just so last century, you might delight in websites such as IFTTT, an Internet of Things guru’s mecca which enables businesses to create more connected experiences for customers. IFTTT boasts some options that might seem mind-blowing, from building a smart home that will automatically light the front porch for the pizza delivery guy to making your voice assistant more personal and unifying social media accounts to make sharing easier.

If Terminator, RoboCop and Westworld give you the creeps, you might want to skip to the next section. Because robots are becoming more of a thing in daily life — they’re multiplying (at least not on their own…yet). Robots help security agencies disarm bombs and monitor enemy activity, but options are also coming on the market that will carry your bags for you or fold your laundry.

Hungry for more automation? Travel to California and nosh on a deluxe cheeseburger made by Flippy, a robot eight years and $13 million in the making. Flippy is designed to work side by side with a restaurant employee to cook and flip burger patties to perfection. Though Flippy had a rocky first day, its creators say the kinks have been worked out and it now serves burgers on demand.

“Alexa, write this blog for me!” If you’re not following the artificial intelligence revolution, here’s a new acronym you might want to remember: RPA. It stands for robotic process automation — it’s designed to automate basic tasks so workers can concentrate on higher value objectives. RPA is great in theory, but it’s been difficult to develop because there are so many variables and moving parts.

In 2013, researchers teamed up from the Okinawa Institute of Technology Graduate University in Japan and the Forschungszentrum Jülich in Germany to simulate just one second of human brain activity with a computer, and it required 82,944 processors and 40 minutes. RPA isn’t ready to automate your job just yet, but it is an emerging tool that could outsource a lot of smaller tasks going forward.