The times they are a-changin’. That saying is more than just a Bob Dylan song, and it may be never more suitable than now. The new year is upon us, and with it, will be trends to watch for. As we edge further into the 21st century, we see more and more uses of newer technology that changes everything that we used to know. From AI to streaming services, technology is moving fast. Companies like Waiakea Water, with priorities beyond profit, are receiving recognition for their progressive business models. Plus, shopping online only increases. More on all of these trends ahead.
The Beginning of the End for Brick and Mortar
It appears that more and more brick and mortar stores and businesses are closing by the day. In fact, current estimates have half of the 1,200 malls across the United States closed within five years. Sears has been around forever. We all remember receiving those Sears Christmas catalogs when we were younger in the mail. Now they are closing hundreds of stores across the nation. And they aren’t the only ones. Target, Macy’s, and J.C. Penny are just a few.
Does this mean we are all going to be scrambling to find the products we need like the end of the world scenario in the Walking Dead? Of course not. Instead, we are going to continue to do high volume of online shopping. For most businesses, there are much better profit margins anyway online. You don’t have to pay the stores for the shelf space. You can sell directly from your own website and cut out the middle man. Or you can offer your products on the ever-growing Amazon like everyone else.
There will never be a complete end to the brick and mortar stores. However, as consumers, we are the ones receiving better deals. No longer are two rival competitors located in the same town vying for your business and cutting prices. Now they are competing against online businesses as well. And if you don’t like the price at one business, just go on to the next one.
The Rise of Artificial Intelligence
We have all seen the films where artificial intelligence (AI) will slowly start taking over the world and we won’t react to it until it is too late. Well, now we have a chance to see if that can really happen! More and more companies are introducing AI into their products and services.
Microsoft has said that AI is already present in the more than a half a billion devices running Windows 10. Amazon is running AI platforms for developers to work with. China is currently building a $2.1 billion industrial park for AI research. All this is just the tip of the iceberg.
Self-driving cars will soon be seen across all our roadways. Budweiser just made their first delivery using an automated delivery truck. Pizza Hut is using automated robots to take orders and payments. Accounting services are offered worldwide now through automated services. These are all just a few ways AI is being used. Hopefully, Keanu Reeves will be there to save us if we go too far.
Rising Success of Brands Like Waiakea Water
Waiakea Water is a bottled water company based out of Hawaii. While bottled water is nothing new, Waiakea Water is providing something amazing with its plastic water bottles. Americans alone used about 50 billion plastic water bottles last year. The extremely sad news is that only about 23 percent of them were recycled. The ones that were not recycled stay in our environment anywhere from 450 to 1,000 years, that’s how long it takes for them to degrade. Those plastic water bottles you drive by in the ditch everyday will be on this planet much longer than us. Waiakea Water aims to change that.
Waiakea Water is using new technology that, hopefully, more companies will start adapting. The company developed a plastic additive called TimePlast that will allow their plastic water bottles to degrade in only 15 years. Can you imagine the global impact this will have if all plastic food and water containers will start using this technology? Maybe the landfills will not be overflowing across the globe and into our oceans quite as much, thanks in part to Waiakea Water. This is definitely a trend that needs to be monitored in 2018.
Online Learning and Working from Home
Social media, for good or for worse, has provided us the ability to communicate with others without even having to leave the comfort of our couch. (Unfortunately, most people seem to use this power to get into arguments and feuds with people they have never met over the littlest things.) With the internet and other technology, soon we may not ever have to leave the house again.
Online learning has grown immensely over the last ten years. More and more are receiving their college degrees without even having to take a step into a college classroom. Assignments are handed out by professors in chat rooms and the work is returned in attachments or emails. Grades are given by the university without anyone actually having to meet.
Working from home is much of the same concept. Technology allows us to keep in contact with everyone from our little home office. It is no wonder this is growing in popularity. There is not a need to spend time looking perfect in the morning, fighting traffic back and forth, make small talk with the rest of the employees, or other things like that. Who knows really if during those video calls if anyone is even wearing pants? With more companies using automation, working from home is becoming more prevalent.
Pick and Pay Streaming
The amount of streaming channels seem to be growing by the day. With many people deciding to cut the cord from cable television, the time could not be more perfect. Channels that you would find exclusively on your cable in the past are now beginning to offer them as streaming options as well.
Cable and satellite like to say they can offer you many more channels than ever before, but in all likelihood, you only watch ten percent of the channels that are on your subscription package. Pick and pay streaming will allow you to streamline to only the channels you want to watch. However, so far, it seems the average price of those streaming channels that are currently available are right around ten dollars a month. They will have to come down in price to make this more financially feasible to the mainstream.