The future of technology is about fusing the best technologies and partners to create infrastructures and platforms that enable brands and people to do more.

A recent survey of 16-30 year olds by The Drum showed that 85% believe that technology brands will have the most influence on their futures. The question of course, is which ones. Some tech brands will evolve into lifestyle brands – the new Cokes and Nikes by which we live our lives – whilst others will become invisible, technical ingredients inside other branded experiences.

The difference between commercial success and failure for the brands that embrace these opportunities will be the same as the value drivers of today’s technologies. They are

  • Design … designed around the customer, enabling them to practically achieve more, whilst also adding emotional resonance
  • Connectivity … being social and connected, technology works together and enables people to be more effective, and more human
  • Intelligence … harnessing the potential to capture and apply “big data” through more personal, responsive and intuitive behaviours

In the near future, the smartphone will evolve into our personal controller – for everything from health to work, shopping and entertainment. It will make payments, order food, turn on cars, control temperatures, and occasionally make calls.

In many ways technology is not a category of its own, but an enabler of every other type of business. The more that tech companies realise that they are part of other categories (multiple not just singular), certainly from a customers perspective, then the more impact they are likely to have.

Whilst we obsess about “the next big thing” to be found at the Consumer Electronics Show, the reality is that most tech innovations are really inventions that don’t change people’s lives or turn into commercial success. Inevitably it is the innovations that address a real or latent consumer need, that have a relevant and realistic business model, and long-term commitment that succeed.

These are the 10 technologies that are proving most disruptive, and commercial:

Mobile $400 for an iphone, compared to $5m for an equivalent “supercomputer” 40 years ago 6 times growth in smartphones and tablets since launched in 2007
Cloud Server performance doubles every 18 months Costs 3 times to own a server than rent in the cloud
Connectivity 300% increase in device to device connectivity in the last 5 years 90% decline in cost of sensors in last 5 years
Robotics 80% lower price for Baxter than a typical industrial robot 170% growth in sales of industrial robots in the last 3 years
Energy storage 40% decline in price for lithium-ion battery in last 4 years 2000 times increase in power of lithium-ion batteries in last year
3D printing 90% decline in price of home 3D printer in last 4 years 4 times increase in additive manufacturing revenues in last 10 years
Advanced materials $1000 to $50 price per gram of nanotubes over last 10 years Carbon nanotubes 115 times stronger than steel
Renewable energy 85% fall in price of PV cells in last 10 years 19 times growth in solar and wind energy generation in last 10 years
Driverless cars 200 times increase in driverless cars produced in last year 500000 km by Google’s driverless cars with only one accident
Genomics Genetic sequencing speed doubles every 10 months 100 times increase in GM crop growth over the last 15 years

Sources: Forbes, McKinsey, NASA

McKinsey estimates the potential economic impact of these “disruptive technologies” as between $14 trillion and $33 trillion a year by 2025 – a combination of people prepared to pay more for better products, cost efficiencies in operations, a cleaner environment, and better health.

Meet the Gamechangers in Futuretech

Alibaba – Connecting the world's businesses

Alibaba is a trading platform for the new world order, enabling a small business in remote China to deal directly with a large corporate, for any entrepreneur to access a global marketplace.

Read more about Alibaba >

Apple – Designed in California, loved around the world

Apple’s story is retold a thousand times. But in a world of relentless innovation and imitation, the brand needs to reassert itself, as more than its products, and more than Steve Jobs.

Read more about Apple >

ARM – Designing the architecture of the digital world

ARM designs the chips inside most of the world’s smartphones, and increasingly other devices, creating an ecosystem of research and innovation with its partners, and most of the world’s device brands as licensee customers.

Read more about ARM >

Da Jiang Innovations (DJI) – The rise of China's drone technology

A drone crashed on the White House lawn in January 2015. A month later, a drone delivered a 9.15-carat diamond ring to Zhang Ziyi, the Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon actress, in a marriage proposal engineered by Wang Feng, a rock star in China. Two months after, a drone deposited small amounts of radioactive waste on the rooftop of the Japanese Prime Minister’s office, as a protest against using nuclear power in the country. All three drones were made by Da Jiang Innovations (DJI).

Read more about Da Jiang Innovations (DJI) >

Darktrace – The world's leading machine learning company for cyber security

Darktrace is the world’s leading machine learning company for cyber security, having developed AI algorithms that mimic the human immune system to defend enterprise networks of all types and sizes. Created by mathematicians from the University of Cambridge, Darktrace’s Enterprise Immune System is the first non-consumer application of machine learning to work at scale, across all network types, from physical, virtualized, and cloud, through to IoT and industrial control systems. Installed as a self-configuring cyber defense platform, Darktrace continuously learns what is ‘normal’ for all devices and users, updating its understanding as the environment changes.

Read more about Darktrace >

Ethereum – The next generation blockchain-based cryptocurrency

Vital Buterin is a 22-year-old coder who created the fast-growing new cryptocurrency network Ethereal, and wants to use his technology to disrupt everything. Ethereum is a platform and a programming language that makes it possible for any developer to build and publish next-generation decentralized applications. Ethereum can be used to codify, decentralize, secure and trade just about anything: voting, domain names, financial exchanges, crowdfunding, company governance, contracts and agreements of most kind, intellectual property, and even smart property thanks to hardware integration.

Read more about Ethereum >

IBM Watson – The smartest machine ever built

Watson is an IBM supercomputer that combines artificial intelligence and sophisticated analytical software as a “question answering” machine. Its applications are complex, but almost endless. Most recently it acquired the assets of the Weather Channel, to become the world's most accurate weather forecaster. It is named for IBM's founder, Thomas J. Watson

Read more about IBM Watson >

Raspberry Pi – Build your own computer gadgets for $25

Eben Upton wants to inspire kids about the potential of computing. With an incredibly simple $25 computer, a cool brand a social movement, he is inspiring the next generation of entrepreneurs.

Read more about Raspberry Pi >

Samsung – South Korea puts the tae kuk into the Galaxy

Samsung has always focused on innovation, however it was only by embracing the power of design, that they were able to engage people in objects of desire, rather than products quickly imitated.

Read more about Samsung >

Slack – The creative home of our working lives

Slack's mission is to make your working life simpler, more pleasant and more productive. It is the fastest growing B2B application ever and is used by 2 million daily active users.

Read more about Slack >

SoftBank – 300 year ambition and $100 billion fund to create happiness

SoftBank is a global technology investment company with a portfolio embracing AI, smart robotics, IoT, advanced telecoms, internet services, and clean energy technology providers. In May 2017, the SoftBank Vision Fund was launched with $100bn to invest globally in the businesses and technologies that will enable the next stage of the Information Revolution. It is the owner, or major investor, in companies including Alibaba, Arm, Boston Dynamics, Grab, Nvidea, OneWeb, Supercell, Uber, and WeWork.

Read more about SoftBank >

Tecno – The leading smartphone in Africa

Tecno Mobile is a Chinese mobile phone manufacturer based in Hong Kong. It was established in 2006. It is a subsidiary of Transsion Holdings. Tecno has focused its business on the African and the South Asian markets.

Read more about Tecno >

Tencent – WeChat to QQ, Tencent is taking over the world

Tencent has become one of China's four technology giants, founded by Pony Ma in November 1998. It’s overtaken Facebook, bought stakes in Snapchat, Tesla and Hollywood films, and has quietly risen to rival Google and Netflix.

Read more about Tencent >