If you are a tech-savvy entrepreneur looking to start disrupting the world as we know it, there are a few industries you should consider. These, according to specialists, are where the future of technology lies. According to specialists at Gartner, a technology research firm, the following industries are beginning to break out of an emerging state.
Blockchain and distributed ledgers
A blockchain is essentially a distributed ledger in which value is exchanged and distributed, without the possibility of it being copied. Transactions are grouped into blocks, which are chained together, across a peer-to-peer network. Data is recorded over time and cannot be deleted. These characteristics have caught the attention of various corporations, as this type of technology can completely change industry operating models.
Most still see blockchain technology as something that will only change the financial industry, but there’s a lot more to it. Blockchain technology, according to Nasdaq, can be useful in private transportation, cyber security, healthcare, music distribution and more.
AI and advanced machine learning
Artificial Intelligence and advanced machine learning are now starting to erupt, as we see autonomous vehicles and smart tools becoming reliable. This type of technology can go far beyond what we are currently capable of imagining, as most even believe robots will be a significant part of the work force in the near future. Moving beyond traditional rule-based algorithms has allowed us to create machines that can learn, predict and adapt – leading to a whole new era.
As our lives keep getting more complex to manage, intelligent apps that perform human assistance tasks surge in popularity. Apps that can, for example, prioritize emails or schedule our day are already a part of our daily lives. There exist intelligent apps that can help with specialized tasks in professional areas such as sales or customer service. The full potential of smart apps is yet to be unleashed.
Virtual and augmented reality
Have you ever played Pokemon GO, or used Google Cardboard? These are examples of what Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) can do, as they transform the way we interact with the world around us, with one another, and with software systems. According to experts at Gartner, AR and VR will:
“.. merge with the digital mesh to form a more seamless system of devices capable of orchestrating a flow of information that comes to the user as hyperpersonalized and relevant apps and services”.
Soon enough, our world is going to be in conjunction with virtual worlds.
According to Microsoft, conversational systems “interact with people through language to assist, enable or entertain”. This means they can and will go far beyond the current chatbots and microphone-enabled devices. As we keep evolving, there will be a full range of endpoints to interact with and devices will be connected to each other, creating a new digital experience. This industry is, quite clearly, in need of savvy entrepreneurs.
Mesh App and Service Architecture
As our digital needs evolve, so does the IT architecture that supports them. Digital apps need to communicate with each other, which means the architecture has to withstand the growing needs and methods we use to interact with technology around us. Mesh App and Service Architecture should be able to link to numerous endpoints so that apps, services, and devices can work together to provide users with a cohesive, consistent experience. Entrepreneurs need to address the task of creating modern architectures that can deliver agile and dynamic applications.
Digital technology platforms
Digital technology platforms have been incredibly valuable in the last few years. According to a report by Accenture:
“It used to take Fortune 500 companies an average of 20 years to reach a billion-dollar valuations, today’s digital start-ups can get there in four years. Digital platforms are largely responsible for this shift.”
Yet, these platforms are still critical enablers. Gartner believes there are now five new points that will enable new business models for digital businesses – the Internet of Things (IoT), business ecosystems, information systems, analytics, and customer experience. Every organization will, in the future, mix these five platforms to succeed in the digital world.
Did you know there are fridges that order food and play films? This is possible thanks to the execution of applied AI and machine learning. While the most advanced examples we have are autonomous vehicles and smart appliances, in the future there will be a shift to a collaborative intelligent things model, as these devices keep on taking over the environment around us, both at home and in the workplace. This shift essentially creates a plethora of opportunities.
Adaptive security architecture
Since every industry we mentioned so far are in a high growth phase, the need for better, more advanced and complex security technologies surges. Experts at Gartner believe that established security technologies can be used as a baseline to secure IoT platforms, and that monitoring user and entity behavior is, in these platforms, critical. The IoT is essentially creating new vulnerabilities that need to be addressed by security professionals.
A digital twin is fundamentally a dynamic digital model of a physical object that relies on sensors to understand its state, and accordingly respond to changes, add value, and improve. In the coming years, millions of things will be represented by digital twins and organizations will use them to improve their processes and increase efficiency, while maintaining and enhancing new product development. The digital twin industry is just starting to blossom, and tech entrepreneurs can benefit from it.
Images from Shutterstock.
Fidelity Investments is Mining Cryptocurrency
Fidelity Investments is a multi-billion dollar brokerage that just so happens to be mining cryptocurrency. In fact, it has been at it for three years, using its own computers to harvest bitcoin and Ethereum.
CEO Abby Johnson recently told Fortune that its U.S.-based mining operation is “making a lot of money.” This comes despite running a relatively modest operation.
Hadley Stern, Senior VP of Fidelity Labs, described his company’s venture as an “experiment.”
The real reason we began mining, and still do, is to learn how the network works, how consensus works, how difficulty levels work,” he said in reference to the mining process.
The key to profitability has been the dramatic rise in cryptocurrency over the past year. Bitcoin and Ethereum are the world’s No. 1 and 2 cryptocurrencies by market capitalization, and no-one else comes close.
Well Ahead of the Pack
The fact that Fidelity has been at this for three years speaks volumes about the company. Other, much bigger players are still dipping their toes in the market, but are unsure about how to proceed. Goldman Sachs is reportedly on the fence about starting a cryptocurrency trading operation, while J.P. Morgan has already begun handling customer orders for bitcoin-based instruments.
Fidelity is doing a lot more than just mining tokens. Earlier this year, it reached an agreement with Coinbase to let customers view cryptocurrency prices alongside other assets on their Fidelity homepage.
Coinbase is the world’s most funded cryptocurrency exchange with more than 7.4 million users.
The cryptocurrency market ended the week on a firm note, with bitcoin (BTC/USD) reaching a session high of $4,425.00. At press time, the index was up 1.6% at $4,368.
Ether is also trading higher against the dollar, with the ETH/USD rallying more than 3% to $305.
Ripple (XRP) lost momentum on Friday, but still managed a weekly gain of 21%.
Chinese Government Eyeing Fresh Bitcoin Legislation?
The Chinese government could roll out fresh cryptocurrency regulation in the coming months permitting licensed brokers to operate, based on recent information from Xinhua.
The state-owned news publication recently revealed that the government is mostly concerned with stamping out illegal activity involving bitcoin and other cryptos. Government authorities could be planning to regulate the market by creating a licensing program with strict Know Your Customer (KYC) and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) systems.
The Case for AML
The need for KYC/AML protocols has long been raised by cryptocurrency proponents, especially in reference to initial coin offerings (ICOs). In response, the blockchain community has come together to create the Simple Agreement for Future Tokens (SAFT). The SAFT is both an instrument and open-source framework for token sales that vets accredited investors.
SAFT activity is quickly gaining traction, with the likes of Gizer recently issuing a presale of its ICO through SAFTLaunch.
SAFT was officially created by Protocol Labs in close collaboration with AngelList and Cooley.
China’s Stance Looms Large for Cryptocurrency Market
Although digital assets have recovered from the China-induced flash crash of September, favorable regulations on the mainland could mean big business for bitcoin exchanges. Prior to the ban on ICOs and bitcoin brokers, Chinese investors were responsible for a quarter of all BTC trades.
According to Xinhua, China is likely to pursue a licensing program similar to Japan, a country that recently approved 11 cryptocurrency exchanges. CnLedger, a leading source of cryptocurrency news in China, recently had this to say:
“Xinhua News, official press agency of CN: Virtual currencies have become the top choices of underground economies. We shall adopt ‘0-tolerance policies’ towards crimes hidden underneath and take measures such as record-keeping, licensing, AML processes, real-name, limiting large transactions.”
Is China’s cryptocurrency ban temporary? It certainly looks that way. Regulators must already know that the ban hasn’t stopped mainland investors from buying cryptocurrencies next door in Hong Kong or Singapore. A saner approach to an all-out blanket ban is a tighter regulatory framework that will stamp out money laundering and other underground activities.
«Featured image from Shutterstock.»
Tim Draper Has Made Over $110 Million Since 2014 With his Bitcoin Investment
Tim Draper, the billionaire technology investor and prominent venture capitalist who has invested in some of the most successful technology startups in the likes of Coinbase, Patreon, SpaceX, Tesla, Box, FourSquare, has profited over $110 million from his investment in bitcoin less than three years ago.
In 2014, Draper participated in the auction of 144,336 bitcoins by the US government and the US Justice Department, which were seized during the investigation into Silk Road, a dark web marketplace. Draper was granted the permission to purchase a batch of 30,000 at around $600 from the US government.
Upon securing 30,000 bitcoins, Draper told Fox Business:
“[I’m] very excited about bitcoin and what it can do for the world. Bitcoin is as big a transformation to the finance and commerce industry as the internet was for information and communications. If bitcoin were here in 2008, it would be a stability source for our world economy. Everybody should go out there and buy a bitcoin. Every investor who’s a fiduciary should at least be partially involved in bitcoin because it’s a hedge against all the other currencies. There’s a whole ecosystem being built that’s going to make commerce much easier with much less friction and safer.”
Today, Draper’s 30,000 bitcoins are worth $129.9 million. Considering that Draper had spent $19 million purchasing the batch of 30,000 bitcoins in 2014, Draper has recorded a profit of over $110 million in less than three years.
While Draper held onto his investment in bitcoin, the US Justice Department was quick all of the 144,336 bitcoins seized during the Silk Road operation. According to various sources, the US government sold the majority of its 144,336 bitcoins at a price of $336, at $48 million. If the US government had sold its bitcoins in 2017, it would have generated an additional profit of around $573 million, as 144,336 bitcoins at today’s bitcoin price of $4,330 are worth $624.9 million.
Since 2014, in addition to purchasing tens of thousands of bitcoins, Draper has funded some of the most successful bitcoin companies in the cryptocurrency market including Coinbase and Korbit. Earlier this year, Coinbase secured a $100 million investment at a $1.6 billion valuation, while Korbit was acquired by the parent company of a $10 billion gaming company in Nexon at a $140 million valuation.
Furthermore, Draper has not sold his stake in Coinbase and earlier this year, Brian Armstrong, the CEO of Coinbase, revealed that Coinbase is still at an early stage in terms of developing and scaling. Armstrong noted that it will evolve into the safest and most trusted exchange in the global market.
“Digital currencies are having their ‘Netscape’ moment. The pace of innovation has been accelerating and we are now seeing exciting projects and companies being built on top of digital currencies. We’re beginning to transition into phase three of our secret master plan. Our goal is to be the safest, most trusted and compliant, and easiest to use. Not the first to market with new assets. Especially at scale, it takes time to ensure any new asset we add is well tested and secure,” said Armstrong.
Coinbase is also one of the two exchanges in the US market apart from Gemini that is targeting institutional and retail investors by providing sufficient liquidity. As Coinbase and its flagship cryptocurrency trading platform GDAX continue evolve, Draper will position himself at the forefront of cryptocurrency innovation and disruption.
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