It’s no secret that in today’s active startup culture, the most tech-savvy businesses are often the ones that survive the longest. This makes for some difficult adjustments for business owners, but for the most part it’s beneficial to all of us, as it encourages startups in all categories to embrace innovation and keep pushing forward. It also makes for some fun speculation from time to time, and in that spirit we’re taking a stab at identifying some of the technologies that will be popular with startups another five years from now.
While blockchain technology remains most closely associated with bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, it’s becoming clearer by the day that it has numerous other uses that can suit any number of businesses. For instance, a previous article here on business startup stats listed offices of real estate agents and brokers among the industries with the best startup statistics, and it just so happens that real estate is commonly mentioned as an area in which blockchain is going to be very useful. The technology can help to mediate deals (sometimes without much help from outside lawyers) by ensuring that, say, a property deed is transferred if and only if payment is delivered.
This is just one example, but as even brief research will show you, blockchain’s potential applications are nearly limitless in nature. From using it as a means of accepting cryptocurrencies, to customizing its use to manage deals or keep records, startups and small businesses will be putting it to use regularly in a few years’ time.
Not so very long ago, chatbots were viewed by most as aggravating and unnecessary. They were effectively pop-ups, typically in the lower corners of websites, that offered assistance where none was needed, or pitched deals in an explicitly “sales-y” manner. Thanks in large part to improving artificial intelligence though, chatbot software has improved fairly radically, and what was once an annoying feature is becoming a legitimately helpful one. Businesses can now improve their websites
with automated chat systems that know and recognize site visitors, understand what they’re looking for, and carry on constructive conversations. Putting it simply, they actually improve the experience. Certainly there are still instances when a chatbot can be vaguely annoying, but the reputation of these features is shifting, and we expect to see more startups making use of them online.
- Injection Molding
Right now, injection molding is best suited to certain specific types of businesses. However, with this and other forms of high-tech manufacturing making it so much more possible for business owners to customize products, we suspect that they’ll be put to use more often – whether in designing product lines, testing out early designs, or even creating displays and cases for use in stores.
Already, the process involved in obtaining custom-molded parts is easier than most might imagine. Fictiv reveals in a look at injection molding that customers can submit project specifications with help from downloadable design guides and receive parts in just 10 days’ time, which is far more efficient than processes like this have been in the past. Again, specific parts needed may vary from one business to another. But whether it’s through the use of a rapid design mold to create an eye-catching display unit for a retail store or it’s taking advantage of production tooling to order a high number of parts to use in product inventory, we’re betting that businesses in the near future will be taking advantage of convenient custom manufacturing options.
- Augmented Reality
Augmented reality appears to be in something of a stage of transition as of this writing. Finally, people appear to be looking beyond its just-for-fun gaming and entertainment applications, and are gaining more appreciation for the broader impact it might have on other aspects of everyday life – including in businesses of all kinds.
For one thing, augmented reality is producing its own new category of startups. TechPrior presented a look at 10 such startups to watch for and correctly posited that said startups had the potential to take the AR market by storm. It specifically highlighted HoloLamp (a company working on presenting AR without the need to look through goggles); TravelAR (which is meant to help users explore destinations without actually traveling there); and Yeehaw Wand (which turns drawing and sculpting motions into digital renderings). These companies and the vast differences between them demonstrate how many startups AR could wind up being directly responsible for. At the same time, however, we expect to see AR implemented in other businesses as well. Whether it’s in improving customer interactions with product, designing new employee training programs, or anything in between, AR – somewhat like the blockchain technology discussed above – appears to be poised for as many uses in startups as people can come up with.
More technologies than just these will impact the near future of startups. It’s likely though that in various forms and fashions, the things discussed above will come to represent some of the biggest near-future changes we see in businesses of all kinds.