Technology has always spurred the growth of industry. More than a million years ago, the invention of stone tools led to the beginning of hunting and construction. Today, things like artificial intelligence, edge computing, and the Internet of Things are leading to untold growth.
Although technology transforms quickly on its own, the global COVID-19 pandemic hastened its impact on many industries. That means some industries are reaping the benefits of technology far earlier than expected.
One example of this is how technology is revolutionizing the ways some companies do business. Here are four industries undergoing rapid expansion in the recent tech revolution’s wake.
Technology has always been at the heart of the healthcare industry. Medicines, vaccines, wearable devices, and robot-guided procedures are all part of this industry’s tech array. It’s no surprise it’s currently one of the most rapidly expanding industries.
Technology makes it possible for providers to deliver online healthcare to patients wherever they are. These capabilities took center stage during pandemic lockdowns. In-person clinics meant higher exposure to potential viruses. Even patients unfamiliar with technology became adept at remote visits and using wearables to monitor health conditions and transmit data.
Tech has been a game changer in mental health treatment as well. The ability to contact a provider from a cell phone, tablet, or other device 24/7 helps sufferers confront crises head-on. Patients can even be prescribed medication through online evaluations. Online mental health treatment also renders any stigma of paying an office visit a moot point.
Blockchain, cloud and edge computing, and AI allow gathering and analysis of massive amounts of data. Understanding that data is revolutionizing treatment protocols and improving patient outcomes on a vast scale. This technology is all part of something that patients don’t necessarily see but benefit from more and more.
Of course, surgical procedures and certain diagnostic exams and treatments still require physical contact. But as technology continues to facilitate remote healthcare, taking care of one’s health is infinitely more convenient. This trend will draw an increasing number of people willing to open up and say “ah” from wherever they are.
Fintech has been around for a while, but many people resisted trusting their financial transactions to digital technology. That is, until things like touching the same things as others and banks that only had drive-through services caused a reset. Now that people have figured out how convenient fintech is, they’re not likely to go back.
Traditional brick-and-mortar banks have been forced to expand their use of technology. The number of traditional bank branches continues to grow despite the rising number of branchless options. It’s likely because they’re striking a perfect balance between the comfort of personal, local familiarity and electronic banking convenience.
Paychecks, government benefits, and income tax refunds are predominantly transacted by electronic means. Although the paper check still exists, many consumers prefer the speed of digital deposits.
Then, there’s contactless payment options for point-of-sale transactions, propelled by the pandemic. Near-field communication (NFC) technology embedded in the card chip or in cell phone apps makes physical contact unnecessary. Swipes and insertions have been rapidly replaced by taps.
As Generation Z ages into adulthood, fintech will continue its evolution. After all, this is a generation raised on nothing but technology. So long as they have a smartphone, they feel they have everything they need to handle their financial obligations.
The bridging of the gap between physical and digital shopping is contributing to the tech-based retail revolution. “Phygital” combines the best of both worlds to give customers a remarkably personal shopping experience.
The IoT plays a huge role in any phygital retail encounter. When you open the retailer’s app in-store, it identifies the department you’re in and recommends products based on your purchasing history. It may even offer you special deals on those products. Despite feeling a little “Big Brother-y,” the phygital approach can save shoppers time and money.
Grocery stores in particular have experienced major changes since they started putting their inventory online. Shoppers can save lists of staples, check what they bought last time, and fill their cart from their cellphone. Then they schedule a time to pick up their order curbside or pay a fee for home delivery.
And the numbers match up with what we’ve seen. Prior to the pandemic, online sales in 2021 were expected to hit 5.4% of the U.S. market and 14.5% by 2026. Instead, they hit 9.5% and are projected to hit 20.5% in 2026. Through advancements like AI robot assistants, QR codes, self-checkouts and virtual reality, retail therapy is available at the touch of an app.
AI, automation, and 3D printing heralded a permanent shift in the manufacturing sector. Again, use of this technology became a viable option during the pandemic. Manufacturers could avoid choosing between putting employee health at risk or shuttering operations all together.
Automation has come a long way since Henry Ford’s assembly line. Automation reaps cost-of-labor savings, reduces safety issues, improves the quality of products, and increases efficiency. Despite human labor shortages in most manufacturing sectors, the rate of production is on the rise.
3D printing was considered somewhat of a novelty pre-pandemic. That changed as a limited number of plants using 3D technology pivoted smoothly to fill critical production gaps. Items such as ventilators, face shields, masks, and other personal protective equipment could be quickly produced even on a small scale.
The manufacturing sector is also quickly expanding use of digital twinning to improve processes. A digital twin continuously monitors data and performance of its real counterpart, facilitating insightful improvements to equipment and processes. While manufacturing may have a decreased human workforce on the production line, there’s an increasing need for humans trained to work alongside tech. That is what’s fueling growth in this sector and creating a new manufacturing world order.
Technology is and has always been a game-changer. Its ability to expand these four industries and others is transformational. Growth, whether to a company’s bottom line, its market share, or its competitive dominance, is a worthy end result.
Technology is only limited by the ability of people to create, program, and utilize it. Tech may never run the world, but it will always be part of the revolution to create a better one.