published in The Irish Examiner on 04/01/16
Last week, we looked at some great sectors to watch in 2016. This week, I’m continuing on that path, as we look at more influential markets, which will drive the start-up scene in this new year.
From architects to medicine and mechanics, 3D printing is one of the best pieces of technology of the last decade. Already, we’ve had 3D-printed houses, cars, limbs, and human organs and there is much more to come.
3D printing’s influence will grow, as more companies bring it on board. This year, it will be used for homes as well as businesses. While it has many innovative applications, the big stumbling block for this market has been its price tag.
The release in the US of The Peachy 3D printing unit for just $100 will change that. This puts 3D printing beyond business and into the home market. It will also allow companies a more affordable chance at developing products themselves.
Opportunities will lie in the sale and licensing of patterns, and don’t be surprised to see some merchandising sales targeted at model homes, for children and adults to print and make for themselves. This will be the year that 3D printing comes into the home and becomes more affordable for small businesses.
The rise and rise of the teen entrepreneur:
Teenage entrepreneurs are on the rise, and with virtual reality and 3D printing becoming more affordable, expect more teenage scientists and designers to emerge in 2016, as well. If you’ve been to the Student Enterprise Awards or to the BT Young Scientist exhibition in recent years, you’ll know what I’m talking about.
We now live a world in which a young person’s interest can be developed from anywhere. Expect to see more teenagers at the forefront of business and start-ups, as we continue to change how children learn and understand the world around them.
Third-level education will have even more online classrooms and virtual pupils, as location no longer becomes a hindrance to prospective students.
Grey hairs equal grey matter:
The technology era has been driven by the demand of a younger generation that wants something faster, sleeker or more beneficial. However, with increasing demand for technology comes the demand to sell it, and while many new companies have the ability to create great products, they lack the ability to sell them. This has resulted in a rise in demand for workers of a somewhat older generation. Whether in bringing them on as part of the company’s board or hiring them as part of sales, there is a demand for plugging old minds into younger companies.
More changes in the workplace:
Defining a company has mostly involved how your product compares to that of your competitors’. However, now is the time to start comparing your company as a place to work. Who is your hiring competition? What companies in your field are hiring the best talent?
These are the questions that help you define the structures of your company and measure how much you’re offering for the best talent, comparatively. A company is only as good as its employees, and if they see somewhere as a better place to work, then don’t expect too much loyalty, as the jobs market hots up.
In the past few years, we have seen that employees, young and old, want a company that is molded to their needs and also their ideas of success. Management is no longer expected to be in total control of everything, and employees will look for further acknowledgement that they are part of the company’s agenda and future plans.
Expect employees to be more selective about who they work for, as the power switches from those hiring to the job-hunters. It’ll be up to companies to impress prospective employees, as well as the other way around.
Say what you see:
Marketing has evolved quickly in recent years and we are rapidly finding new ways to tailor content and messages around the individual, rather than large market segments. Visual content will be increasingly important, as Facebook, Twitter and other social platforms become more visually-orientated.
Facebook provides some of the highest engagement percentages for visual content, particularly for directly uploaded video. Pictures have not lost any of their importance, either, having been at the centre of some of the best news stories of 2015. If you’re selling a product or trying to tell your story, visually is one of the best ways to do so. Instead of telling people what your company has going for it, show them.
The end-to-end start-up:
Uber didn’t invent taxis, but they did redefine how we book, and use and pay for them; they also allow drivers to spend less time waiting and more time driving. Uber became the complete package. No middle man or plugin software, just an entire system that works from driver to end-user.
Expect more of these companies to come out this year and expect some to attract massive investments, too. Look at industries as a whole and ask how they could look if they were just starting out today.
Industries that are centuries old can be almost instantaneously transformed. Look out for more companies seeking to bring the whole deal to people’s tables and changing age-old industries with a whole new experience for the user.
The Internet of Things:
We like to think of IoT as something sparkly and almost magical that will transform how we shop, cook, drive, take medication, and so on. Connected computers and workplace devices, which consult an outside server to see what’s wrong or how to bring about optimum efficiency in a piece of machinery, are part of what IoT can deliver.
Expect to see more manufacturing facilities and companies moving towards IoT and to develop strategies based on it. Data will also be a huge issue, as more companies look to see where they can become more efficient and improve on the streamlining of services. As mentioned in the previous segment on end-to-end startups, you should expect to see an increasing number of companies providing a full package service, centered around IoT.
This will bring about big changes within industries, as the middleman is cut out and service provision is redefined.