2023: The Impact of Technology on Consumers’ Lives
by Kevin King
On Wednesday, September 25, Verizon Enterprise Solutions’ Chief Platform Officer, David Small, delivered a keynote address at the Global Semiconductor Alliance (GSA) US Executive Forum. This one-day, invitation-only event focuses on technology innovations, economic growth and international trade relations. The event is organized by the GSA, a leading organization for the semiconductor industry. Attendees include c-level executives from member companies and other relevant organizations.
David’s keynote was titled: The Future is Connected. The purpose was to capture the technology landscape for the audience in the next decade and illustrate the impact it will have on consumers’ lives. David identified some of the ways Verizon sees machine-to-machine (M2M) and connected solutions shaping consumer behavior and lifestyle and provided examples of how advancements in these areas, in things like homes, healthcare and transportation, will impact society.
To start, David noted that predicting the future is a difficult job. He specifically cited examples of companies that were viewed to be dominant market drivers at the start of the millennium that have disappeared – either bought by other companies or gone bankrupt. Surviving long term, and continuing to impact consumers’ lives means evolving to meet changing consumer demands and behavior. As an example, David pointed to Verizon’s own evolution in the past decade from a telecom provider to a globally connected solutions company.
In discussing the connected future, David highlighted technology trends that will impact consumers – ubiquitous connections/networks, intelligent machines, big data, body area computers and social networking. These technology trends will cut across a number of functional areas affecting everything from education to healthcare to retail to media and entertainment.
David focused on three key areas that will be impacted by the connected future: homes, healthcare and transportation.
Connected home system sales will increase from $300 million annually today to $1.5 billion by 2017. These homes will have sensors everywhere, and these sensors will be able to “see” occupants, recognize gestures and respond to their needs or preferences. For example, sensors could detect a certain person in a room and set lighting and entertainment preferences specifically for that person. Additionally, David said that connected homes will contain “smart” appliances and energy systems. These systems will not only save consumers time and money, they will create new business models for utility companies. Energy companies can monitor and incent consumers to change usage patterns in order to improve demands on their infrastructure and meet new power consumption standards.
Healthcare services will also be different in the connected future, according to David. The ubiquitous connection trend applied to healthcare means more data will be collected from more sources and delivered to more doctors and researchers. As a result, healthcare professionals will have more and better data for studying diseases. This access to data and improvements in analytics will lead to better treatment and overall outcomes. Additionally, wearable or body area computers will help in early diagnosis and better overall patient management – catching some issues before they require invasive and costly procedures and improving overall health. This could ultimately change the healthcare model from one based on illness treatment to one based on health maintenance and illness prevention. David stressed that the key to this will be the ability of the healthcare and technologies communities to develop solutions that work together. Without interoperability, silos of data and limited connection will inhibit future advancements.
The impact of connected solutions on consumers’ lives related to their cars will be significant over the next decade. David said we’re already seeing areas where connected cars are impacting business models in car use and ownership – through shared cars and short-term rentals – to car insurance – through usage based insurance. Again, the ability of cars to gather data from various sources – traffic reports, other cars, etc. – communicate that data to the driver and help the driver make decisions based on that data will impact how we manage traffic, drive safely and lower emissions by maximizing driving routes.
The connected future is not guaranteed. David made sure to note that macro-economic factors impacting access to energy and global market stability, as well as public policy decisions impacting investments in and access to innovation could alter current paths to progress. Additionally, new innovations that are unheard of today could replace the connected vision of the future. Who predicted an “app economy” 10 years ago? Still, as David’s presentation addressed, Verizon’s history of innovation and investment in change suggest the connected future will materialize and consumers will see and feel real benefits in their daily lives.