Watching technology advance amazes me. Tech rarely unfolds as a stunning breakthrough but instead arrives in tiny slices of change. How often is the world as fundamentally shifted as the day the original iPhone was announced? Rarely. Knowing this, there’s a real advantage as an individual or an organization in knowing the overriding trend that links together those slices of change. If you know the trend, you have a head start in where to pay attention, where to invest, and what hype to ignore.
The trend that overlays so much of what we see today is personalization.
Personalization As An Overriding Tech Trend
This may seem too simple to be pointed out here, but it has layers that aren’t so obvious. We see the results of personalized marketing (though there’s lots of room for maturity and consolidation), but here are other areas of personalization that aren’t as obvious and stand to be major economic forces in the coming years.
Personalized education. Places like the Khan Academy are looking at the components of learning so that education isn’t in silo’d classes but instead in linked concepts that make learning easier and incremental. What if I could learn a language based on what I know already, not the typical German 1, German 2 format? Personalization technology allows each student to have a completely personalized curriculum that is far more efficient and effective.
Personalization of wellness. What about tracking exposure to cancer-causing chemicals or even the sun? Sleeping has been tackled but there’s remarkable room for growth in that area.
Personalization of medicine. Where we produced valves, stents and hip joints in sizes and overlaid patterns of diagnostics and treatment, we can now produce the same benefits “to order.” This arrives thanks to 3-D printing, genomics (study of the human genome) and proteomics (study of proteins), and specialized tests and therapies. This industry is predicted to grow at double digit rates for years to come, meaning even more ways to personalize health are just around the corner.
Personalization of fitness. Yes, there’s the Nike FitBit and similar products, but the opportunity to give each person an increasing amount of data about what they do (exercise or otherwise) is enormous. There’s also great opportunity to personalize a combination of information streams, like finding the best exercise based on location, weather, preferences and fitness level/history.
Once we’ve digitized life, anything is possible and there are certainly opportunities to personalize that can’t be fathomed yet. In the meantime, these areas are an enormous cross section of the economy and the individuals, companies and countries that address this trend best will lead the economics of the next ten years.
Do you think I’m right?