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Futurist: How Do You Select the Technologies You Think Will Be Big in the Coming Year?

I am a long-time Futurist, and technologist. In my career, I have spanned the birth of personal computers, to the rise of Cloud Computing.

Will 3d printers finally jump into the mass market?

Will 3d printers finally jump into the mass market?

Steps one and two of my impact tech selection process

One of the articles I traditionally write in December at the end of the calendar year is my projections of the technologies that I think will explode in the next calendar year. In reality, I focus on consumer technology. I began my information technology career when the military and US government drove technology in the US. I won't declare the 2007 release of the iPhone as the moment when technology shifted from the government first to the consumer. There is a time when that started; I don't know when that is. I am sure some historians had pinpointed the moment when that shift occurred. Here are many books that talk about how and when that shift occurred. My goal isn't to replicate those works. Rather, I will instead focus on the component pieces that I believe are critical in the evolution of the technology market in 2022

So let me lay out criteria that I consider. One of the first things is the potential market. Or what is the technical term used in the business world for this the total addressable market or TAM. Based on the global market, it represents the total market available for any one product. The total addressable market for any one product or solution is never more than 50%. The EU, the US government, and other government groups start looking at and strongly regulating companies when they get above 50%. So that initial market is an interesting reality. I have, over the last few years, spoken with many leaders of many crowdfunding opportunities. Their perception of their total addressable market is usually much larger than it is. And I have to admit, in fairness, I have fallen prey to that one as well. One of the most important things to consider is can a product reach the mass market. Q1So my first evaluative point is the ability of the technology to reach the mass market.

The second thing I consider is the simplicity of the solution. Is it the easiest way to solve the problem? I review a lot of crowdfunded technologies. Some solutions force users to consider the layers of complexity that make the technology stay out of the mass market. The adage builds a better mousetrap, and people will beat a path to your door implies that simply improving the mousetrap is the answer. The reality, however, for most companies isn't building a better mousetrap. It's building an easier-to-use mousetrap. I take a hard look at the technologies I consider to determine they will ever be simple enough to use that the proverbial grandmother in Arizona, who only drives to church on Sunday, would pick it up and use it and be happy with it.

Is this the year of 5g?

Is this the year of 5g?

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Its not about building a better mousetrap

So those of the first two will the technology make it to the mass market and is it reasonably easy to use. The concept of easy-touse has changed. The average person can use more technology now than they could in 1950. In 1950 the Television was a rarity in the homes of the world. Today it's fairly ubiquitous. But in 1950, Television began. My grandfather was an early adopter of Television. In particular, he had a color TV long before they were prevalent in the mass market. My grandfather only upgraded his color TV when the wireless remote became a new feature—the mass market continues to evolve. Many things stay on the edge of the mass market and never actually enter the mass market.

That's why the third thing I consider is style. I'm not making an homage to Steve Jobs and Jonathan Ivy of Apple. They certainly made style critical. But frankly, the Mac has always been more stylish than the PC. At least in the beginning. Macs never really reached the huge market of PCs.The iPhone and the iWatch have both taken off, embodying the style that Apple chooses to sell. When I say style, though, I am not referring to fads or trends. So the trend to have holes in jeans isn't got me. When I was younger, and my blue jeans got a hole in them, my mother bought me a new pair. Now you pay a premium price for genes that already have holes in them. That is more of a fashion trend, not the style, I mean. Instead, I'm referring to the style that makes people comfortable enough to change how they do things, to use that technology. The style represented by the cell phone is not how cool the cell phone looks. The style represented by the cell phone is the fact that it's cool to carry one. So my third consideration is that concept of style, as I outlined, is not the style that drives the consumer market.

In bringing those three rules together, the ability to reach the mass market, the better mousetrap or simpler using functionality, and finally the aspect of style is what I consider in evaluating technologies. We can argue that my simple formula doesn't work. Because frankly, I have been wrong many times. It was my steadfast belief roughly five years ago that the 3D printer would explode into the mass market that honestly is still glaringly wrong. But I stand by my estimation of its importance and value. It just takes a while to move into the mass market. Price is always a barrier to anything being in the mass market. And for the most part, 3D printers remain too expensive. And so I'll leave with this final thought—this last bit of my process. The goal is simple: to look at technology and determine what I think to be the next big thing. The reality is I am only one person, and the consumer market is massive. So as I cull through the list of technology that I see in the landscape today that hasn't reached the mass market yet, I apply my three rules. I'll leave you with this, as is my tradition at some point in December; I will publish my prognostication for 2022. But now, at least, you'll know the process I used to arrive at my list.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2021 DocAndersen


DocAndersen (author) from US on September 28, 2021:

Thank you for the kind words. I am also looking for simplicity. I find many technologies are simple now because the world is more technically savvy!

John R Wilsdon from Superior, Arizona USA on September 27, 2021:

I agree. I like easier to use mouse traps. Your formula for determining successes of future tech are reasonable. I have been wanting a 3d printer for some time, but am still waiting for better performance and simplicity. Look forward to your articles.

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