While many startups may be small, there’s one advantage they often have against their larger competitors; innovation and inclusion in changing market conditions. 2018 saw radical changes in the startup ecosystem. Not surprisingly, many of those changes and startup trends were driven by the implementation of new technologies. In 2018, 95% of startups had digital business plans in place. 55% of startups had already adopted a digital business strategy compared to just 38% of traditional enterprises.
Of course, technology itself isn’t the key disrupter in most industries. Plenty of large enterprises have serious investments in artificial intelligence, for example. Rather, it’s how that technology is applied that turns entire industries upside down.
Here are 7 trends startups will need to focus on if they want to make an impact in 2019.
1. Artificial Intelligence
AI is no longer just a concept. It’s already powering a sizable percentage of business initiatives. It’s in your marketing tools, your analytics, your digital ads, your customer service platforms, and your smartphone.
63% of people actively using AI right now don’t even realize they’re using it. That’s because AI doesn’t look like what we once expected: a robot from a science fiction movie. Instead, it’s working in the background of our systems to make processes faster, more efficient, and more accurate.
Artificial intelligence is a branch of computer science that involves the creation of human-like intelligence in machines. An AI can do things that would normally require human intelligence, such as decision-making, pattern recognition, and even creative endeavors.
AI is not the same thing as machine learning, which refers to algorithms whose performance improves as they are exposed to more and more information. However, machine learning and AI are linked.
With a few data points, an AI can write a news article, identify objects in pictures, choose winning stocks, and recommend you a new pair of sneakers. Startups that find new applications for AI will successful in 2019, as will those that bring the study of artificial intelligence to new heights.
2. Remote Work
In 2018, 3.9 million Americans were working from home for at least half of the workweek. Meanwhile, 55% of Americans who were working remotely were doing so full-time, a percentage that would have been inconceivable just a decade ago.
Thanks to the proliferation of broadband internet service to every major city in the country, as well as the digitization of office tasks, there’s little reason to commute anymore. Many long-established companies still depend on traditional office spaces, but startups around the world are tapping into remote work to get into the game faster.
There are several benefits to relying on remote workers. For one, your talent pool is as large as the world itself. If a candidate has a viable internet connection, they can work for you.
Relying on remote workers makes it easy to grow and expand, as well. You don’t need to rent more office space. Often, you don’t even need to buy new equipment either, as many remote workers would rather use their own devices, anyway.
You also have an opportunity to save vast amounts of money with remote work. By relying on remote contractors or even remote full-time employees, you won’t have to worry about renting or maintaining a property. Even cybersecurity can be outsourced.
And lastly, remote workers tend to be happier and more productive than commuters. They enjoy more flexibility and don’t have to worry about commuting to an office. In 2019, startups that choose to save and stay flexible with remote work will be able to overcome their more sluggish competitors.
3. Voice Recognition Technology
Consumers were intrigued by Apple’s virtual assistant, Siri, when it was released with the iPhone 4S in 2011. One of the most interesting features was that fact that you could speak to Siri to open apps, search the web, and complete other tasks.
Now, voice recognition technology is entering our homes, our cars, and our businesses. According to one report, 39 million Americans now own a smart speaker, like the Amazon Echo or Google Home. Virtual assistants are no longer a commodity—they’re commonplace.
To succeed in 2019, startups don’t necessarily need to come up with their own voice recognition device. There are plenty of opportunities to develop apps, proprietary algorithms, and other functionalities within the voice technology space.
For example, there are opportunities for voice recognition technology in manufacturing, agriculture, field service, business services, education, and even healthcare. Combined with AI, startups can succeed in 2019 by creating voice recognition technologies that serve a specific niche.
4. Big Data
People often mistake the term “Big Data” to simply mean “large sets of data.” In fact, it refers to data sets so large that traditional computational software tools cannot analyze them. In order to draw value from the data, new tools, like AI, must be applied to find patterns and trends.
In a business sense, Big Data refers to the large quantities of data that businesses are inundated with daily. This includes customer data, market trends, and inter-operational data.
Most businesses are successfully harvesting this data, but few are making use of it. According to one study, 43% of the companies surveyed said they obtained little benefit from their data.
Big Data is an essential component for the future of digital marketing, supply chain management, healthcare, security, industry, and a host of other applications. The primary assets that can be derived from Big Data are the following:
- Predictive analytics
- Behavioral analytics
- Business process optimization
- Organizational optimization
- High-performance computing
- Market insight
- Marketing effectiveness
Startups that don’t get a handle on Big Data from the start will struggle in 2019 and beyond. According to experts, data production will increase by 4,300% by 2020.
5. Edge Computing
Once a buzzword (and perhaps it still is), we’re well into the cloud computing era. Cloud-based hosting environments can string together hundreds of machines to provide a stable computing environment with minimal downtime. Consumers and businesses alike have access to centralized services, such as cloud storage and communication tools, anywhere there is an internet connection.
Cloud computing may sound like the decentralized computing environment that the internet promised us, but it isn’t.
There are just a handful of companies dominating the cloud computing space. They’re dependent on a network of data centers located in secure locations. These data centers must communicate with users and with each other (often over great distances), which opens the possibility for lower latencies and security risks.
With edge computing, computation is performed on distributed smart, or “edge” devices instead of taking place a centralized cloud environment. Closely related to the internet of things (IoT), edge computing is seen as an important concept for the creation of smart cities and physical computers (computers which can interact with the physical world).
In the future, computers the size of your smartphone may be able to take on workloads that only a data center can handle today.
This is one of the most unexplored technology trends heading into 2019. Startups that make strides in edge computing have the potential to revolutionize technology moving forward.
Digital marketing has evolved so quickly that most consumers now have certain expectations from brands. They want brands to know them, to understand them, and to give them what want, when they want it. Consumers seek information online before making a purchase. Companies that provide the right information at the right time stand to benefit.
Personalization is most often found in email marketing. About 77% of marketers use personalization in their email marketing campaigns in the form of transactional information, purchase histories, and other data. But personalization can go well-beyond greeting an email recipient by their first name.
The next phase of personalization, hyper-personalization, involves the in-depth analysis of customer data and behavior to provide the best possible marketing messaging at opportune times.
7. The Internet of Things
In 2019, IoT technology will provide startups with some of the best opportunities to make an impact in the marketplace. Referred to as “The Next Industrial Revolution” and “Industry 4.0,” The internet of things is a system of computers, machines, digital systems, objects, and even people that can transfer data over a network.
As you can probably imagine, when every object in our world is a potential computer, IoT has almost limitless applications. At present, plenty of entrepreneurs have tried to develop their own IoT product. Few have seen success.
But as technology gets smaller and smarter, cloud services and APIs will become more standardized, paving the way for myriad IoT projects. This sector stands to be one of the most lucrative among these trends moving forward: The IoT market will be worth $581 billion by 2020.