2020’s Five Most Disruptive Tech Trends Shaping Tomorrow

Telehealth, referring to the use of remote, telecommunications-based healthcare via video, email, call, is rising to prominence worldwide. Telehealth and telemedicine together fundamentally shift the way that healthcare clinical and nonclinical services are conducted—moving the services away from the traditional brick and mortar structure to digital platforms.

By Kaarina Zhao

Disruptive technological trends displace an established technology and transform the entire market, with the potential to upstart a new industry. Take live streaming for instance. The emerging streaming technological trend disrupted the DVD industry by targeting DVD’s overlooked segments, and offered a new level of affordability and convenience. This ultimately made video rental giants such as Blockbuster obsolete. Such technological trends prove critical because they fundamentally impact all aspects of our lives and society as a whole. 

So we ask—what does our future hold? Below we take a look at 2020’s five disruptive technological trends shaping the world of tomorrow. 


  • Rise of Drone Deliveries


Drone deliveries are accelerating towards mainstream adoption—with several companies including Amazon, UPS, and Alphabet moving from the testing stage towards more widespread uses. Since their announcement six years ago, Amazon planned to roll out their drone deliveries this year. A couple months ago, Alphabet’s Wing division launched the first residential drone-based delivery service for commercial operations in the US to perform neighborhood package deliveries. Drone deliveries are expected to revolutionize the face of global logistics. In fact, by leveraging drones to deliver goods, the most remote places become instantly accessible. As opposed to using automobiles, trucks, and trains to fly over hazardous terrain, drones can arrive in minutes, facilitating a more interconnected world. Overall, drones are becoming part of a larger smart logistics revolution bringing individuals, places, and goods closer, faster, and with increased ease. 


  • Surging, On-demand Telehealth


Telehealth, referring to the use of remote, telecommunications-based healthcare via video, email, call, is rising to prominence worldwide. Telehealth and telemedicine together fundamentally shift the way that healthcare clinical and nonclinical services are conducted—moving the services away from the traditional brick and mortar structure to digital platforms. In fact, telehealth enables those such as Medicare recipients with mild, flu-resembling symptoms to obtain advice from a licensed doctor at the comfort of their home, instead of physically leaving their house and entering a waiting room filled with other vulnerable individuals. Only a couple of years ago, Telehealth visits were seen as futuristic. Yet, recently it has been rapidly increasing in adoption—especially due to COVID-19’s onset. A 2017 study by American Well found that 50 million Americans would be willing to switch primary care providers if it meant getting access to video visits, up from 17 million in 2015. In 2020, this growth became explosive. Kvedar, senior adviser at Partners Healthcare noted that virtual visits at Partner Healthcares have surged from approximately 1,000 visits in February 2019 to 90,000 in March 2020. Additionally, other health networks saw similar surges, with some practices in New York City amassing from increasing by 5,500 visits in a day. Combined with unexpected pandemic circumstances, consumer habits are moving towards convenience and lower costs—especially regarding quick care areas in minor ailments. Overall, telehealth, which once lied at the fringes of healthcare, is rapidly becoming mainstream.  In effect, this will create disruptive and seismic shifts to the physician and provider labor market. 


  • Advances in the Intelligent Voice Economy


With the recent upsurge in voice-enabled devices, the voice economy will expand—particularly beyond just voice assistants, to facilitate increasingly efficient voice search and analytics. As voice search spreads across multiple interfaces, voice search optimization will disrupt multiple industries. In fact, voice search holds the most promise for inputting and efficiently extracting data. Along almost every major industry from mining to healthcare and aerospace, data entry and productivity efficiency is a critical issue. Even in factories, it could take a factory worker approximately 15% of his or her day to input data and working with devices is difficult if one has greasy or slippery fingers. Voice’s use for data entry propels a four times improvement in speed compared to typing or writing, and this paired with Natural Language Processing (NLP) can create increased speeds by upwards of ten times—allowing for better entry, analytics and search capabilities.  Beyond inputting, AI-enabled audio search allows for extracting key insights and has led companies to form fascinating partnerships—bringing them closer to the data source and to the consumers. For instance, Amazon is partnering with different homebuilders to integrate their voice activated technological assistants in connected homes and generate critical analytics. 


  • Responsive, Immersive Phygital Spaces


‘Phygital’ is a term that describes the blurring of the line between the physical and digital elements present in spaces—for instance a physical space i.e. office, meeting room, stadium VIP box, and embed certain technologies in it to transform it into a virtual environment that can facilitate a range of experiences. As consumers look for increasingly customizable experiences, and as IoT continues to grow, phygital is expected to accelerate.


  • Digital Twins


Digital twins refer to virtual replicas of physical devices that data scientists and other industry professionals can use to test simulations before the creation and deployment of actual devices. Digital twins are critically shaping the way technologies including IoT, AI, and analytics are optimized.  In fact, objects including aircraft engines, offshore turbines, etc. can be designed and digitally tested before they are physically created. Digital twins are disrupting traditional processes in many industries. In manufacturing—many factories are employing digital twins to stimulate their processes, according to a Deloitte case study. Additionally, automotive digital twins are expected to rise along with the rise in autonomous vehicles, which require extensive testing. Finally, Healthcare is seeing increased digital twins of humans, where coin-sized sensors deliver information as inputs to a digital twin, which are used to track and analyze a patient’s health. 

Undoubtedly, with the increasing disruptive impacts behind human innovation—the future is ever-changing. We can look forward to seeing more disruptive technological trends emerging and radically altering the way we live, work, and interact in the future. Remaining informed on the disruptive technologies and the way they transform industries is instrumental in understanding how society can generate and protect value in the future.

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