On Dec 6th 2018, the RIC Centre hosted our annual Tech Forecast. The event brought together leading industry experts to discuss (and at times, debate) how the 2019’s top technology trends will influence businesses of all shapes and sizes. Futurist speakers included:

The presentations and dialogues were spirited, and while the speakers each had a different take on the way these emerging technologies will impact your business next year, they all agreed that these 10 tech trends will vastly change the business landscape across multiple industries — and cannot be ignored.

10. Renewable Energy

Energy from renewable resources (such as sunlight, wind, geothermal heat or waves) are poised to take centre stage,and fast: the International Renewable Energy Agency states that renewable energy will be consistently cheaper than fossil fuels by 2020. Additionally, renewable energy SMEs are poised to see tremendous growth while the traditional, dominating players scramble to appeal to shifting global attitudes. It’s a great time to ask: How can green energy benefit your business?

9. Quantum Computing

While still in its infancy, quantum computing is set to shake up all domains of science and technology, from energy storage to medical treatments to artificial intelligence. The best way to comprehend how it works is through an analogy. Imagine a library full of thousands of books and you are trying to find a particular one. Current computing technology would find this book by looking at an individual book, deciding if it’s the correct one or not and then move on to the next in a linear fashion until it finds the one you’re looking for. Quantum computing will allow you to scan the entire library of books simultaneously and find the book of interest right away.  

8. Augmented Reality / Virtual Reality

It’s forecasted that there will be nearly 1 billion augmented reality users by 2020. With applications in nearly every industry, from medicine to manufacturing to retail, businesses are increasingly finding more and more creative uses of the technology. Start thinking now about ways that AR/VR can be used to drive sales and boost your bottom line.

7. Advanced Materials

Every major era of human history has been defined by a fundamental development of materials: the Stone Age, the Bronze Age, the Iron Age – and more recently, the Silicon Age, which has ushered in the rapidest period of technological innovation yet. But what’s next? Silicon transistors can’t be manufactured smaller than 5 nanometres thick, a problem as electronics continue to shrink, become flexible and require greater computing power packed into a smaller volume.

New semiconductor materials can be manufactured 3 atoms thick, and these ultrathin advanced materials will pave the way for more flexible and energy-efficient electronics. 2018 saw new materials invented in a number of other industries too that will change the way we live and work.

6. Blockchain

Distributed ledger technology continues to disrupt traditional methods of doing business and transform entire industries by providing multiple benefits: greater transparency, enhanced security, improved traceability, increased efficiency and speed of transactions, and reduced costs. As more and more companies start to incorporate blockchain into their operations, the technology and its uses will continue to evolve in 2019.

5. Internet of Things (IoT)

The number of smart, connected devices worldwide is growing exponentially — by 2019, it’s expected there will be nearly 27 billion. The Internet of Things’ pervasive connectivity will continue to influence nearly every industry, especially manufacturing, transportation &logistics and healthcare – nearly 87% of healthcare organizations are expected to adopt IoT technology by 2019. What are some of the ways your business could be improved by tapping into the Internet of Things?

4. Personalized Medicine

The convergence of personalized medicine with digital health, data analytics and genomics is ushering in a new era for the entire medical industry. Instead of focusing solely on the treatment of diseases and a blanket approach to drug development, personalized medicine is allowing for a proactive, preventative and individualized methodology to be adopted.

This next phase is about getting not just patients but the population as a whole involved in their health. Wearables are allowing individuals to monitor their health and take actions to improve it- all the while generating vast amounts of data that have been hither to unavailable to us. Through the use of artificial intelligence to analyze the data generated from these devices, this new digital health economy is improving human health at every turn.

3. Cybersecurity

2018 had a host of data breaches the likes of which the world had never seen before. Perhaps the most well-known was the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica scandal where the personal data of 87 million users was exploited for political influence. The largest breach of privacy of the year, however, was from Aadhaar, India’s national ID database which contains personal data of 1.1 billion Indian citizens, including biometric data. Journalists found that they could obtain any record of a registered individual in Aadhaar for 500 rupees (~$8).

In 2019, it can be expected that malicious cyber attacks will continue to ramp up with smart (AI-enabled) attacks and multiple, cloud-connected devices creating new points of entry. Expect companies to increasingly employ a dedicated cybersecurity division to combat the increasing barrage of threats.

2. Software-Enabled Hardware Platforms

Your TV, your speakers, your fridge,your lights, your car… nearly everything is “smart” these days. Indeed, this trend of turning every piece of hardware into a software-enabled, connected device shows no sign of slowing down: the smart home market was $35.7b in 2017 and is expected to grow to $150.6bn by 2023.What’s next? Expect to see smart fashion, more advanced wearables and smart implants. Hardware companies are adopting entirely new business models by not only selling the product itself but becoming Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) providers,generating recurring revenue and improving customer loyalty.

1. Artificial Intelligence

This last one probably comes as no surprise – AI seems to be everywhere you turn, and you’d be hard-pressed to find an industry that isn’t interested in adopting it. But while 2018 generated a lot of hype surrounding AI, there has been little action. In 2019, businesses will try to move beyond this and find how to generate AI-driven results that generate real business impact.

Long-awaited autonomous vehicles will finally see the light of day as both General Motors and Google’s Waymo have stated their first AVs will available in 2019.You can also expect an increase in the number of companies adopting AI-powered virtual agents and speech recognition software. The list goes on. In short,it’s time to see what AI is truly capable of.

What do you think of our 2019 Tech Forecast? Drop us a line and let us know if you agree, or have your own predictions!

About the Author

Riley Cox

Business Development Coordinator

Riley is a student in the Master of Biotechnology program at the University of Toronto with a passion for science, business, and entrepreneurship. He has previously run a company in the entertainment industry for several years, and is interested in how emerging technologies can help entrepreneurs & start-ups to achieve growth and success.