10/12/2016 01:36 EDT | Updated 10/12/2016 01:36 EDT

Tech Disruptors With The Biggest Impact

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In the hustle and bustle of our busy lives, we often become immune to how convenient and productive our lives have become thanks to innovation. What was once unthinkable even 10 years ago, like the way we binge watch entire series on Netflix, or using Waze to decide the best way to get to a meeting, is now commonplace and almost taken for granted.

In a world where technology has fundamentally changed the way we interact with one another, it's worth taking a moment to look at the technologies responsible for these changes, where they are now, and where they are taking us.

Artificial Intelligence. For most people, these words brings to mind scenes from a science fiction movie. But AI is far from fiction. It has become an indispensable technology for consumers. Anyone who browses Netflix, shops Amazon or asks Apple's Siri a question has benefited from the technology. And as companies find ways to deal with massive amounts of data being generated and the projected six billion objects that will require support by 2018, AI will continue to blossom. Research from Salesforce shows that 61 per cent of employees expect artificial intelligence that automates or assists in work-related activities to have a major or moderate impact on their daily work lives.

The Smartphone (For More Reasons Than you Think). That 68 per cent of Canadians own a smartphone likely comes as no surprise to anyone. Given the ubiquity of these devices, though, it's hard to believe that the iPhone hasn't even been on the market for a decade (it was released in June, 2007).

Yes, the social media wave mobility triggered has ushered in enormous change. But the smartphone is doing much more than that, and that evolution is very much in its early stages. Consider how we bank and manage our finances. A recent survey found that 64 per cent of Canadians either currently perform banking tasks online using a mobile device or would be willing to do so. More interestingly, more than three-quarters of those surveyed (77%) said online banking is now part of their everyday, and 91 per cent say this has made finances a habit, one that lets them manage their finances more effectively, so in a sense, mobile has changed the way we interact with our banks. That's just one of many ways that the smartphone is not only a game changer, it's a life changer.

The Cloud. Anyone doing work at home, streaming music on Spotify or shopping on Amazon this weekend is now fully immersed in the cloud, whether they recognize it or not. Few technologies have had such a profound impact on how we work and play. No longer forcing workers to be tied to their desktops, the cloud has mobilized workforces in every industry, and has spurred the creation of some of the world's most well-known brands. Tools like cloud-based CRM have transformed how people work, how they engage with customers, and how they provide customer service. And that improvement on customer service is making consumers' brand experiences more seamless, efficient and engaging.

Considering all that, and the fact that 46 per cent of small businesses in Canada are using at least one cloud service, it's safe to say this technology has disrupted all industries, allowing companies to connect with their customers in more meaningful ways.

Startups. True, startups aren't a technology. But if there is one thing we should be acknowledge for above all, it's the innovators. Every piece of technology Canadians use can, in some way, be traced back to talented people and an idea, which is why Salesforce continues to foster startup incubation. The people behind startups are the people who power Silicon Valley, and who are today powering the burgeoning tech sectors stretching from Victoria to Waterloo to Halifax. Great ideas can come from anywhere, and incredible innovation and creativity blossoms from the tiniest startups.

Technology has changed and improved our lives in ways we couldn't have imagined just a few years ago. With technology evolving and expanding faster than ever before, it'll be exciting to see what makes the list in another decade.

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