Most articles about trends are focused on solutions. Personally I think it is very important to recognize the problems connected to the this solutions (so the trends). In this post I would like to give my view on the problems, the trends in solutions connected to my view how use technology for these problems.

challenges-world

The worldwide challenges are not really changing:

  • the energy challenge
  • the growing world population which leads to shortage of food and their increasing prices
  • cultural differences in a transparent world leads to civil wars
  • in developed countries aging is becoming more and more a problem

Then there the challenges and problems on daily level, the challenges I see around me are:

  • (Banking) crisis, companies invest less, people earn less and buy less so companies sell less etc.
  • Hard to earn for “traditional” brick & mortar retailers (caused by the crisis and growth of online sales)
  • Lower marketing investments, because of lower sales (caused by the crisis)
  • Bigger companies have problems to follow the speed of the market (caused by the fast changing technologies)
  • Lack of business innovation because of lack of investments (caused by the crisis)
  • StartUp are to much focused on finding an investor in stead of finding clients or users (caused by the success stories of some startups with big investors)

On the other side the following solutions seems to be hot:

  • mobile apps
  • clouds: shared IT services
  • sharing (apartments, cars etc)
  • intelligent machines
  • predictive technology (based on Big Data)
  • 3D-printing: from houses till human organs
  • Drones: the flying robots
  • in short future: self driving cars
  • in the further future, nano technology that monitors and repairs the human body

Besides of the solutions that are hot already, I see some interesting developments which may help to solve world wide- and the local challenges. For example:

  • The world is getting smaller, you can sell via Internet worldwide, if you can deliver the product with reasonable costs
  • Focus on niches allow you to create a serious business, as the world is getting smaller and more transparent
  • Focus on small problems in a big market allow you to create a serious business, as the world is getting smaller

So having the problems and solutions in mind, how this may fit in 2014 (and later)?

The energy challenge
The energy challenge will not be solved by one solution. I expect it will be a combination of looking for alternative sources of energy and saving energy. I am not involved directly with looking for alternative sources and expect this will be mainly done by the big energy multinationals and researchers sponsored by governments. On the other side saving energy is partly creating awareness (based on saving money), can be supported with technology. With technology I expect intelligent machines and predictive technology will help. But also sharing like cars, apartments and IT (in the cloud) may save energy. Most of them are connected to the mobile apps on your mobile phone. Besides convenience solutions like self driving cars will also reduce the use of energy.

The growing world population which leads to shortage and increasing prices of food
The shortage of food is a topic I am following since my study on the green Wageningen University. There are 3 ways to solve. At first birth control and at second reduce waste of food and third more efficient and new food production. In developed countries the number of births are so low that countries are afraid there will be lack of young people who can (financially) care about retired people. On the other side will the number of birth significantly increase in less developed countries, mainly in Africa. A part of the solution will be migration of young people to the developed countries (although this creates problems mainly based on differences in culture).

So if we can not control the birth worldwide we need to reduce the waste of food and make the food production more efficient and the food needs to be available in the regions where the births are growing. Here is where technology can come in. Drones and intelligent machines can make agriculture and so the food production more efficient. 3D-printing can print the food where is needed. But also predictive technology will increase the harvest.

Cultural differences in a transparent world leads to wars
It is probably a problem of all times and maybe it is even getting better over the longer term. But some people in the Middle East and Africa would like to have the same system as in developed countries. Probably driven by economical problems and catalyst by Social Media (new technology). The differences in culture leads to civil wars. Here probably new technology only catalyze these wars. Local problems are distributed via Social Media and become a bigger problem. I don’t see a way technology can help directly.

Aging
Aging is the challenge of developed countries. People are getting older and there are less people born. The present social system of retirement is (partly) based that the working people take care about the people who can not take care about themselves. The biggest group are the retired people. Besides of this trend there are many retired people who build up a capital for their retirement. This capital can be spend on goods and services to make live more convenient for retired people.

The first problem of aging means that the social system should be more efficient and smaller. To make it more efficient the trend of sharing enable by technology may be very use full.

To make live for retired people who have the capital is a nice segment for Startups to focus on. The technology should be easy to operate to make it accepted by retired people.

Then the more daily problems:

(Banking) crisis
Solving the (Banking) crisis needs leadership. Politicians who make decisions and execute them. Unfortunately it is hard to be real leader in a democracy so the problem needs to solve it selves. I believe finally it will although the power will be more moved to countries that develop themsellves very fast.

But what can we do with technology to get rid of the crisis?
In general make live, production, services etc. more efficient. Innovation (based on technology) is the base for it.

Hard to earn for “traditional” brick & mortar retailers
This maybe a hard challenge as it is due of the crisis and due of the growing online sales. On the other side I don’t expect shops will completely disappear from the streets. Mobile devices with mobile apps provides opportunities to find local shops in the neighborhood of the consumer at that time. Besides technologies as ibeacons and NFC. Including mobile technology in the sales strategy may create interesting experiences for consumers that would like to feel the product before buying.

Lower marketing spending’s
Probably this challenge is very connected to the crisis. When people started buying, it is worth to increase the marketing spending’s. The challenge for marketeers with technology is to find the right solution. As the number of solutions are growing significantly (see my previous post: Review: Marketing Technology Landscape 2014).

Bigger companies have problems to follow the speed of the market
This is an interesting challenge and gives a lot of opportunities for inventive entrepreneurs. I would say that Google even have this problem. They are solving it by almost “unlimited” buying challenging startups as an experiment. And… most experiments fail. Luckily most traditional corporate companies don’t have and probably will not be able to follow the Google strategy. In my vision entrepreneurs can fill the wholes (or niches), solve problems in a stage that corporate’s are not able to do it themselves. For the entrepreneur it is an fertile base for corporation.

Lack of business innovation because of lack of investments
This counts for established companies. It is hard to get loans for innovation so innovation will be moved forward. Probably the problem will be solved automatically after the crisis is finished. But in the meantime startups can fill the gaps.

StartUp are too much focused on finding an investor
StartUp are too much focused on finding an investor in stead of finding clients or users. Probably startups who have the great solutions that create new problems (like Google and Facebook did as a fast follower, see also my post: Fast Follower The Best Base For A Startup). Most of these startups fail. My startup approach is to generate income as soon as possible. If you get traction in a different way (for example users for advertisement), investors will like to invest in you (after you inform them about your traction). Till you have traction, finding investor is waste of time. Spend the time you have to get traction.

Unfortunately technology, that collects more and more data creates new problems (or challenges). At first their is privacy. Whatever it means to you, probably you will loose it. And then there is the security. The more we are connected with devices, the more possibilities there are to penetrate your digital person.

But also here counts, new problems give new opportunities to create solutions.

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