Decades ago, it was the internet, later email, to the decade of 2020, which gave us technology such as human-like intelligence and self-driving cars.
New technology is emerging almost every other day to make life simpler, more advanced and better for everyone. Computing power has already established its place in the digital era, with almost every device and appliance being computerized. Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), Metaverse, Blockchain, and numerous emerging technologies in between, are redefining the way we lead our daily lives.
Case in point, British luxury brand Burberry launched handbags made of “clouds, water, and foliage”, with each design available for 24 hours only on Roblox, an online gaming platform. For a set amount of time, these bags could be used as accessories throughout the entire gaming experience. “A decade ago, this idea would have seemed unimaginable. Today, it’s a hint of where the future is heading,” says Kulmeet Bawa, president & managing director, SAP Indian Subcontinent.
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“Perhaps the biggest contribution of technology to our everyday lives is simultaneity,” points out Alok Ohrie, president and managing director, Dell Technologies India. “We can now send out a business proposal, order groceries, check on news updates, keep a watch on the elderly and more almost at the same time just by clicking on a few buttons on our personal devices. If our ‘personal productivity’ was to be measured, technology has given us the ability to do more with less, both in terms of time and costs.”
As we march towards the future, here are some of the mega-trends to watch out for:
In the do-anything-from-anywhere economy, the future of work is evolving, and as we design for a hybrid world, technology rather than physical workspace, will increasingly define the employee experience. “We have already entered the era of prioritizing productivity over physical presence, thanks to the rapid adoption of edge computing by all major and minor industries,” Ohrie feels.
Proof that the workforce across all generations is now prioritizing how and where they want to work comes from a variety of publicly available studies and estimates. In 2023, individuals will look for more influence over their employment thanks to flexible working models. According to Bawa, people will be able to access office cubicles, attend meetings, and operate efficiently from anywhere, at any time, thanks to technological advances in intranets, extranets, document sharing techniques, and internet speeds.
The penetration of telecom through ever-widening data channels and the evolution of devices have changed the way we communicate at work and in personal life. Features like end-to-end data encryption and seamless connectivity have made communicating with more devices at the same time secure and effortless. Communication apps and tools have provided individuals, as well as organizations with the means to engage with others at multiple levels.
Unlike the previous era of technology, when one had to locate devices and establish a connection to be able to communicate with others, edge computing has brought communication to our fingertips. We are carrying multi-functionality devices with us wherever we go, and are able to send and receive updates in real time. It has facilitated the exchange of enormous amounts of data over high-speed connections, making communication easy, accessible and cost effective.
Today, almost everything that can be sold is available both online and offline — and accessibility is the name of the new game. From basic groceries to medicines and LED TVs, the very nature of the shopping experience is undergoing a drastic change. Sitting in India, a customer is now able to, with just a few clicks, order their favorite pair of branded jeans or sunglasses from anywhere in the world, supported by easy and quick online payment gateways. Research shows that for 36% of Gen Z—more than any other generation—hybrid shopping is the primary buying method. And among digital natives, 58% of Millennials and 56% of Gen Z consumers use mobile apps and web browsers to shop.
No surprises then, that retailers are adopting digital transformation initiatives to create a more engaging and enhanced experience for consumers. For instance, Coca-Cola collaborated with avatar company Tafi to create the brand’s NFT loot box that offered three iconic Coca-Cola NFTs, besides to the winning bidder receiving a real, fully stocked Coca-Cola refrigerator. Trends such as this will become increasingly common in the years to come.
All eyes on the Metaverse
The online gaming industry, which has grown rapidly on the back of new-age technologies such as AR and VR, is now powering the Metaverse movement. Touted as the future of the internet, where physical and digital worlds converge, Metaverse gives people a chance to interact, collaborate and create without the limitations of physical boundaries. Its adoption in the gaming sphere is just one aspect of how people are living more virtual lives than ever before.
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Seeing its huge potential for consumer connect, brands across industries are also now investing in the Metaverse. In retail, for instance, Nike has a metaverse space on Roblox—Nikeland—where shoppers can buy and wear virtual goods using in-game currency instead of cash or cryptocurrency. Interestingly, even a legacy industry like banking will be able to leverage the Metaverse to enhance and simplify customer experience. “Imagine the convenience of handling one’s bank work by visiting a ‘virtual branch’ that not only sells banking products but also offers real-time customer service,” Bawa predicts.
The promise of 5G
With 5G being rolled out in India, the fifth generation of wireless technology is poised to improve the man-machine ecosystem through greater speed, lower latency and ultra-dense connectivity. It will impact everything from deployment of smart technology in farming to education, healthcare, manufacturing, and even managing of resources in urban areas. According to Ericsson India MD Nitin Bansal, some use cases that consumers will see with 5G are cloud gaming, live sports and enhanced video. “There is a huge interest for 5G in India. 5G will trigger an increase in consumption of new format video streaming and online games.” Remember, this is the age of digitalization where the world is shifting to virtual experiences, impacting daily lives, and creating more channels for user interaction. The next in tech is coming, and the only question to ask ourselves is, are we ready?