The proliferation of technology across almost all sectors has accelerated dramatically over the past ten years. According to research at Statista, there will be 75 billion connected devices in the world by 2025 – three times that of 2019 – which entails everything from smartwatches, smartphones, and slow cookers.
The prevailing characteristic of this tech revolution is speed and efficiency. Need to get a taxi somewhere? Order an Uber on your smartphone. Need to pay a friend for getting dinner? An online bank transfer can hit a satellite and then your friend’s current account faster than you can get your wallet out. Having an operation? Living cells for your operation could be 3D printed in an afternoon.
Tech is dramatically changing the lives of consumers and businesses alike. Here is a roundup of five industries that have been transformed by tech.
Fintech is transforming the way we do banking. So much so, that tech start-ups such as Monzo and Nutmeg are muscling out the big players in the market. Revolut, the London-based banking and payments app, is now the most valuable British fintech company ever recorded, with a market cap of £24 billion, overtaking mainstream lender Natwest’s £23.6 million market cap. This highlights that consumer attitudes are shifting away from traditional banking and towards digital banking. And with most day-to-day banking activities available at your fingertips, it’s no wonder.
Financial technology can have a particularly strong impact in emerging markets. In China, we have seen the prevalence of entrepreneurs like Ma Huateng and the provision of apps like WeChat Pay, which as of 2020 had over 800 million users. Similarly, entrepreneurs in India have had success by digitising financial services like insurance and consumer lending. In 2020, figures showed that venture capital funding for fintech in Africa had risen by 51%, leading many to believe that it may become the next big hub in this space.
Cryptocurrencies have also spearheaded change in the finance sector, which means we could see more DogeCoin and less Dow Jones in the next few years. There are many reasons for their surge in popularity, such as its security. Cryptocurrencies use a decentralised technology called blockchain, which is deemed more secure than traditional payment systems. But many think people are jumping on the bandwagon and buying cryptos to make the most of their current high value. Meaning the extent of their role in the transformation of the finance sector remains to be seen.
Technology has played a considerable role in changing the way we consume news. People are much more likely to get their news from social media or news websites than print-based forms such as newspapers, especially amongst younger audiences. In the age of fast news, social media has become a ‘one-stop shop’ for content, where users can subscribe to multiple news outlets to digest news quickly. For newspapers, it has been a case of ‘evolve or die’, with nearly all major news outlets in the UK making the switch to online formats. In fact, UK national newspaper sales have fallen by nearly two-thirds over the last two decades.
In very simple terms, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is programming a computer or machine to do something that would otherwise require the natural intelligence of a human. One such sector where we are witnessing the widespread proliferation of AI is healthcare. Advanced AI algorithms are being deployed to develop cures for diseases and programme fitness monitors and health apps that could save thousands of lives. Plextek, the electronics consultancy, states that such devices could cut NHS costs per patient by up to 60 per cent.
3D printing and bioprinting is pioneering change in prosthetics, pharmaceuticals, and even tissue development. Living tissues can be grown on a 3D template of blood vessels for a cardiovascular patient. The template eventually breaks down, leaving a living, functioning blood vessel in its place. Fundamentally, 3D printing can shorten operations, which can cost £60 a minute – this is seeing the technology rolled out in NHS trusts across the country.
Uber. Bolt. Kapten. All are hugely successful ride-hailing applications that have seen significant growth, particularly in big cities. When Uber launched in 2009, it became one of the most high-profile tech disruptors in history, causing widespread outrage amongst traditional taxi firms. However, their popularity is showing no signs of letting up. Uber plan to add 20,000 more riders to the service as part of their efforts to hit profitability this year.
Education technology – or EdTech – is changing the way children are taught and has been about longer than most of the above, with schools across the country adopting interactive whiteboards in the early noughties. The Covid-19 pandemic played centre stage for the use of EdTech when, overnight, whole schools were forced to create virtual classrooms on Zoom. However, it isn’t just video conferencing technology that is central to ed-tech, but any technology that can enhance learning. This ranges from using smart tablets and online learning hubs to produce educational content.