In a previous article, we examined three trends in the emerging social landscape around the world with the potential to massively disrupt established economic trends moving forward. However, social factors are certainly not the only thing to consider as we try to predict the future of international trade.
Here are three massive changes taking place in the technological landscape that will also shape the future of global trade:
The Explosion of New Technologies
No, we’re not talking about the Samsung Galaxy here, but the development and rapid adoption of new technologies by the current generation. Whether due to their price point, their ease of accessibility, or general interest spurred by effective marketing, new products and devices are being taken up much more quickly than any time in the past two centuries.
As an example, compare the mobile phone to the television in the United States. The early television, which was publicly available in the 1930s, took almost two decades to truly catch on and oust radio for leadership in popular media. Meanwhile, by the early 2000s, the majority of the U.S. population already had a mobile phone less than 10 years after they began widespread commercial sales.
Since then, the further developments of smartphones, broadband, laptop computers, and tablet computers have all taken off at an even more rapid pace. Known as hockey stick growth (due to the growth curve resembling the sharp, vertical bend of a hockey stick), this trend signifies that new technologies, once embraced, will become widespread very quickly.
The Changing Focus of Industry
Overlapping with both the social factors discussed in the prior article and the emergence of new technologies, many industries are finding that their methods, their markets, or even their entire business models are becoming less sustainable.
Younger generations are more frequently shifting their spending habits and investment capital toward sustainable investments whose business models align with their own social and environmental concerns. Meanwhile, new technologies such as automation and digitalization are forging ahead, replacing many formerly cutting-edge business practices. Those industries that refuse to adapt to this changing landscape, or those which simply cannot, run the risk of being left behind in this changing economy.
With these developments in technology, we have entered an era where data is becoming just as valuable (sometimes even more so) than physical goods. Big data is an obscure factor that those outside of the field may rarely consider the larger implications of. The term itself denotes the massive volume of data available in the digital age. Whether that data is digitized records on a company’s supply chain, consumer spending patterns, social and demographic trends, or one of countless other categories, at no time in history has so much raw information been available.
However, the important part isn’t the raw data itself, but the practical insights and applications that can be drawn from analyzing this data. Big data analytics is used in fields as varied as education and healthcare to retail and B2B to draw insights for social preferences, behaviors, and so much more. Huge markets now exist for these pools of big data. Due to this, entire companies have emerged whose business model is leveraging the buying and selling of big data to meet the needs of this new market.
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