12 Technologies That Can Improve or Disrupt Your Business

Disruptive technology is, without a doubt, one of those areas. Nowadays, it doesn’t matter what business or industry you are in, no sector is protected from having new and rising technologies turn them upside down. Some have done in a year—some in a day.

To better prepare, McKinsey came up with a list of technology trends that will continue to upset business as CEOs have known it. Here are the “Disruptive Dozen” technologies fingered by two of the consulting firm’s directors in their new book, No Ordinary Disruption: The Four Global Forces Breaking All the Trends, which recently were catalogued in Fortune.

Energy storage. Tesla isn’t building a “gigafactory” to make batteries in Nevada for no reason. The price of lithium-ion battery packs will fall by a third in the next 10 years, the authors say, with major repercussions for transportation, power generation and energy production industries.

“New substances that can be manipulated on a molecular level will produce materials that are self-cleaning, self-healing and remember their original shape.”

Genomics. As supercomputers continue to refine the process of genetic analysis, the authors foresee a world in which “genomic-based diagnoses and treatments will extend patients’ lives by between six months and two years in 2025.”

Advanced materials. The development of “nanomaterials” is transforming everything from bike design to doughnuts. New substances that can be manipulated on a molecular level will produce materials that are self-cleaning, self-healing and remember their original shape.

Autonomous vehicles. The “driverless revolution” should be here within the next decade as both Silicon Valley firms and automakers race to develop and control self-driving technologies and to win a pole position in the market.

Renewable energy. This technology has had a hard time becoming economically competitive, although it seems ecologically desirable. But McKinsey predicts that better energy storage will help change that status quo and make sun and wind more usable fuels.

Advanced robotics. Industrial robots have only started to make their mark. And as they get less expensive, they’ll spread into more substitutions for human labor in fields such as maintenance, cleaning, manufacturing and even surgery.

3D printing. An oft-cited disrupter, additive manufacturing has yet to replace the old-fashioned kind, but systems are getting cheaper, smarter and more capable—with the most recent fad being the making of food products. McKinsey’s authors say 3D could soon begin redefining the sale and distribution of physical goods.

Mobile Internet. This is a mature trend in the consumer market. But the authors say that Internet-related expenditures through mobile apps, particular in business applications, will continue to grow.

Automation of knowledge work. Computers could do the work of 140 million knowledge workers by 2025, the book says, ranging from legal discovery to sports reporting.

Internet of things. The IoT already has proven to be plenty disruptive in manufacturing, as well as other industries, but 99 percent of physical objects are still unconnected to it, the authors say. That will change quickly as sensors collect information on everything from the health of machinery to the structural integrity of bridges and even the temperature in ovens.

Cloud technology. With it, startups and small companies will be able to take advantage of information-technology capabilities and back-office services that, not too long ago, were only available to larger firms and were very expensive.

Advanced oil and gas exploration and discovery. Fracking and hydraulic drilling already have helped slash gasoline prices over the last year and boosted the U.S. economy, and the McKinsey authors say these capabilities will help make the U.S. the world’s largest oil producer by 2020. That should continue to boost American national prospects in a number of ways.

No doubt the disruptive technologies of the future will include some that have yet to develop. But by centering themselves on these 12 trends, CEOs may be able to keep their companies ahead of the game.

Dale Buss
Dale Buss is a long-time contributor to Chief Executive, Forbes, The Wall Street Journal and other top-flight business publications. He lives in Michigan.

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