How Emerging Technologies Will Change the World of Commerce
By Robert Hof
It’s increasingly clear that the next big wave of technology will be as disruptive to markets and as transformative to society as the Web. A look at what’s coming.
Robert Hof is a Forbes senior editor who writes about technology, innovation, leadership, and change.
Emerging technologies like artificial intelligence, robotics and 3-D printing are already affecting the way we live and work. But they’re only just beginning to reach their full potential. Their capabilities will grow exponentially in the next few years, and they could potentially transform our society in unexpected ways – both good and bad. Here are some scenarios for how these emerging technologies may play out in the future.
How Emerging Technologies Will Change the World of Commerce
3D Printing, also known as additive manufacturing, is a process that engineers use to create three-dimensional objects using a digital file. The printer reads the information and applies layers of material such as plastic, metal, ceramic or glass until the object is complete. This emerging technology is starting to transform the way certain industries do business.
“The key difference between 3D printing and traditional manufacturing is that it’s completely digital,” said Todd Grimm, president of T.A. Grimm & Associates, an engineering firm specializing in additive manufacturing.
Here’s how Grimm sees 3D printing impacting commerce:
1. 3D Printing Will Reduce Time to Market with Products. Using digital design and printing makes it easier to quickly produce products and reduce errors in the manufacturing process.
2. Faster Prototyping with 3D Printing Will Reduce Costs for New Products. With digital production of physical prototypes, companies will be able to test their ideas more quickly and inexpensively prior to committing resources to selling them in the market.
3.”Small Batches of Customized Designs or Parts Will Be More Common.” In addition to speeding up product development cycles, 3D printing will make it more affordable to manufacture customized products or parts for old or unique
A lot of people think emerging technologies will change commerce by taking it online. They’re wrong.
Emerging technologies are converging with one another and with other trends to make it easier for us to get stuff we want, when and where we want it, without having to go through a traditional retailer. And in the future, we probably won’t even have to sit in front of a computer or pull out a credit card.
We’ll be able to shop anywhere and everywhere, with our mobile phones and tablets or even just by talking. We’ll shop while we read reviews on our tablets, while we hold up products to our web-enabled television sets and get information about them, as we walk down the street checking prices with augmented reality apps, and by using simple natural language interfaces like Apple’s Siri.
We’ll pay for things using NFC-enabled devices like Google Wallet, Square’s Card Case app or Paypal’s new payment dongle. We’ll use digital coupons that pop up on our phones as we walk by stores. And all of this will happen while retailers are tracking our every move and customizing their offers to us based on our location, preferences and past purchases — all in real time.
The past decade has brought substantial progress in the development of electronic banking services, as well as e-commerce. In the future, a combination of emerging technologies will bring about a new level of innovation to the world of commerce.
In this blog, we present some of the most promising technologies that will change the way business is conducted in the upcoming years.
What is emergence?
Emergence is the way complex systems and patterns arise out of a multiplicity of relatively simple interactions. A flock of birds, a school of fish, traffic jams and stock market trends are examples. In the past few years, there has been an increasing interest in emergence within several disciplines including computer science, biology, physics and economics.
This site is about emergence as it applies to technology. The theme is that emerging technologies are likely to have a profound impact on the world economy. That’s because they create new opportunities for companies to re-invent themselves and their industries by exploiting new business models and processes that were not previously possible.
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Monetizing the Internet is hard. “Monetizing” is a term that means making money from something. The Internet, of course, is not a physical thing – it’s a global network of computers and data centers that exchange information through cables and wireless signals. To extract revenue from such an intangible commodity is challenging, but there are some ways to monetize the Internet in meaningful ways.
Since the beginning of the commercial Internet in the early 1990s, companies have sought ways to make money from their web presence. Initially, many sites were free to use or access information. The best known example of this is Craigslist, which started in 1995 as an email list between two parties in San Francisco and has since grown into a national (and international) online classified service for everything from jobs and apartments to furniture and cars.
Other companies followed suit with free services for consumers, including Google (1998), Wikipedia (2001), Skype (2003), Facebook (2004) and Twitter (2006).