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How Will Technology Shape Our Future? 4 Tech Trends to Watch in the Next Decade

Do you remember the classic 1960s cartoon The Jetsons? The show’s catchy theme song introduced us to “the family of the future.” The Jetsons were a typical family of four living happily in the 21st century with their house in the sky, flying car, robot maid, video calling devices, and lots of other technology that seemed beyond our imagination. Flash forward to today, however, and many scenes from the show no longer appear so far-fetched. We may not have flying cars just yet, but we do have self-driving cars. We can place video calls with a tap on our smartphones and get information or help with just about any task thanks to digital assistants Siri and Alexa.


Think about how much technology has changed our lives in the past decade alone. According to the Pew Research Center, the 2010s brought us social media as both a go-to platform for connecting with others and a tool for activists around the world. Smartphones changed the way we go online, and tech platforms gave rise to the gig economy. For many people, the technological advances of the past decade happened so quickly it was difficult to keep up and, according to many experts, the pace of change is only going to increase over the next decade.


In order to get a jump on the new decade, we’re slowing down to look at four of the tech trends likely to shape the 2020s.


1. The New IoT

During the past decade the Internet of Things (IoT) dominated technology discussions and debates. IoT refers to the billions of devices around the world that are connected to the internet and collect and share data. IoT devices have shaped both our work and home lives and include objects such as wearable devices, smart refrigerators, digital assistants, and internet connected sensors and equipment. In the next decade, however, these devices are likely to take on even greater significance.


Thanks to the increasing use of Artificial Intelligence (AI), IoT will soon come to stand for the Intelligence of Things. Adding AI to the Internet of Things will allow our current smart devices to analyze data and make decisions on their own, using the data to optimize systems and generate better performance. The result is devices that will become increasingly smart and able to gather useful insights with less and less human involvement. In ten years, we might have AI and IoT in our homes, businesses, and public spaces, tracking, anticipating, and adjusting to our habits more effectively than ever before.


2. The Rise of 5G

We’ve just noted that our world will be increasingly smart and interconnected in the next decade thanks to IoT devices. So what exactly will keep these devices online and connected? The answer to that is 5G mobile technology. According to a recent report by Rysavy Research done in conjunction with 5G Americas, the industry trade association for 5G and LTE, 5G will soon become the foundation for an entirely digitized environment. This could include autonomous cars, smart cities, wearable devices, and new technology that hasn’t even been created yet.


Although 5G mobile deployment and devices began to come to market in 2019, 5G’s full rollout in 2020 is likely to lead to the widespread use and adoption of machine-to-machine systems, a term used to label technology that allows networked devices to exchange information and act without the assistance of humans. 5G is also expected to boost high-def video and gaming, improve virtual and augmented reality, enable healthcare and school-based systems and more. Beyond these technological advances, 5G will help to improve wireless access dramatically, especially in rural areas still struggling with hard-wire access and unable to implement smart systems as a result.


Overall, the future of wireless technology is bright. In the next decade, wireless technology applications will continue to grow. For millions and possibly billions of people, wireless connections will be the only thing they need to access technology that impacts every area of their lives.


3. Healthcare Goes High Tech

One industry where technology is likely to have an outsized impact in the coming decade is healthcare. Over the past 10 years, the healthcare industry had already begun to look to technology for solutions that would help it meet growing demand and increase operational efficiency to deliver better patient care. Examples of successful healthcare technology innovations include wearable and implanted devices that monitor health, telemedicine, and robotic devices that improve surgical procedures and patient recovery.


In the next decade, experts are predicting an increasing reliance on technology in healthcare and a rise in the number of technology professionals needed to help manage these developments. For example, as healthcare providers make the move to cloud-based infrastructures, cloud experts will be required to help configure, manage, and support these new platforms. Security and data privacy will also be crucial to protecting and maintaining patient records, creating new opportunities for blockchain and cybersecurity innovation.


Additionally, like many other industries adapting to data and its real-time application, healthcare organizations will have to embrace technology at every point of patient care. This could mean technologies that allow care decisions based on immediately available data or advanced systems that better integrate information from a variety of channels to provide a holistic view of a patient’s health. Cities like Nashville, with a history of healthcare industry and a growing tech scene, could even become specialized tech hubs dedicated to healthcare industry applications.


4. Environmental Pressures and Tech Solutions

Almost two decades ago, The Brookings Institution, a nonprofit public policy organization, highlighted technology’s capacity to be both the cause of and solution to environmental damage. Today, with the world at a dangerous climate tipping point, the potential impacts and effects of technology are more important than ever. While some technological innovations over the past decade have negatively impacted the environment, others, such as the increasing use of electric and hybrid vehicles, have had a positive impact.


Looking ahead, there is great optimism among experts that technology could play a constructive role over the next decade, reversing or even solving environmental issues with technological innovation. For starters, technology advances could make renewable sources of energy more accessible and affordable, allowing items like solar panels to become more widespread. Smarter homes and improvements in IoT devices like thermostats and motion-activated lights could also help decrease energy usage. Even the growth of the sharing economy and the changing nature of work could have positive environmental impacts. For example, improvements in video conferencing and communications will decrease reliance on business travel while boosting productivity and collaboration, a win-win for businesses and the environment.


Interested in working with emerging technologies and the tech trends likely to dominate the next decade? Search IDR’s open jobs to get started today!


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