For the past few years, I have actively spent time to think about what technology trends will have the biggest impact in the coming one to three years. The following trends are those I have noticed, been attracted to, thought about, and discussed with friends over the past few months. I feel that all of them will become leading topics of discussion throughout 2015.
The Growth of The Collaborative Economy and #thefutureofwork
By far, the biggest shake up of the past few years has been the mass adoption of the new sharing and collaborative economies. Traditional businesses are starting to find it harder and harder to survive in the current economic climate, as it is now so easy to work, travel, create, and exist just by using a credit card and a mobile device.
The big shakers, such as Uber, Lyft, Car2Go, and Airbnb are changing how we travel and stay, companies such as freelancer.com can help find you the resources to take your idea and make it a successful reality. You can pay for some of the things you need using Bitcoin (and other crypto currencies), and you can even fund a projects and create bespoke goods using platforms such asEtsy, Quirky, Indiegogo, and Kickstarter. All are hugely disruptive to their respective conventional industries.
Companies such as VALVE -- with their open framework of delivering value as detailed in their new employees' guide, Zappos -- with the adoption of a holocratic style of management, and Virgin - with the removal of vacation restrictions (with guidelines) are all heralding new ways of how modern businesses should be operating as well. It's all about trusting employees. Back in 2010, a study by Watson Wyatt showed that high-trust companies outperform low-trust companies by nearly 300 percent. That's not just a significant statistic; it's game changing. Even author Stephen M.R. Covey summarizes very nicely why trust is so important to businesses:
"When trust is low, in a company or in a relationship, it places a hidden 'tax' on every transaction: every communication, every interaction, every strategy, every decision is taxed, bringing speed down and sending costs up."
2015 is the year when wearables will grow up
Over the past two to three years, we have seen all kinds of wearable computing -- watches, glasses, cameras, and sensors in clothes -- however, the average person is still trying to work out what to do with it all. It takes a lot of effort and consideration to quantify your life and do something useful with the data.
All of this data is starting to be seen differently by the authorities. In Canada, there is a personal-injury suit in Calgary in which a woman is using FitBit data -- to show how her activity levels have declined since having an accident. A third-party analytics firm, called Vivametrica, which will analyze the data and provide its report with findings to the court, will be involved versus just submitting raw data into evidence. This use of data is an unexpected one, which could set a challenging precedent as the availability of such data increases. Quant-hacking anyone?
OK, turning now from the personal use of devices and data towards a more applied use for business, which is where so many wearables companies are focusing their efforts. Here in Vancouver, there are a number of companies that are going beyond normal consumer-based products. The first is a company called Command Wear that has developed a wearable technology solution for command systems, such as police and response units. They are driving forward with their solution that empowers the global public safety and security industry to make communities safer. Fatigue Science is focusing on improving human performance and preventing fatigue-related risk in sports and the workplace.
The Resurgence of Psychedelics and Smart Drugs
In the 1960s, Timothy Leary famously said 'Turn on, tune in, drop out'. It was a hugely revolutionary time for the youth, and minds were expanded and blown. The use of psychedelics such as LSD, mescaline, DMT, and psilocybin had a deep and profound effect on more liberal society and thinkers. Now, although most of these drugs are illegal, they have also become essential to many people conducting guided explorations in their respective fields, such as mathematicians, cartoonists, physicists, designers, software engineers, architects, and many other professions. The origins of modern fields of computing, graphics, chaos theory, and fractal geometry can largely be attributed to active (and guided) psychedelic use. Even Nobel Prize winner Francis Crick, co-discoverer of the DNA molecule in 1953, gave credit to LSD for paving the way to his discovery. Steve Jobs also stated that LSD is "one of the two or three most important things I've done in my life". He created the world's most valuable company creating products that people connect with on a deep emotional level.
These drugs have been around for a long, long time, so why am I just now including them in an opinion piece on future trends?
2014 featured a number of stories on founders of technology companies, but it was in late August when a lot of the popular startup and tech press focused on what these people were doing in Black Rock City at Burning Man. Many people in Silicon Valley have been going to this week-long event for a number of years. Elon Musk has even been quoted as saying, "Burning Man is Silicon Valley", and he came up with the idea of Solarcity while there one year.
It's a place of radical inclusion, of creativity, of alternate thinkers. It's a place where you can be someone else and escape the realities of life, partly through the use of psychedelics and other substances. It's a place where people can dive into the core of emotional connection.
Maybe it's time to turn on, tune in, and start up?
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