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Technology and Business

There has been a massive transformation in how people perceive wealth or prestige. Earlier, owning commodities like cars, books or music albums was considered a hallmark of success, but now the fashion is going minimalistic. People carry enormous bytes of data on their mobile phones, and use ride sharing platforms such as Uber, Lyft or Car Go for travel. People are engaging in activities such as apartment lending, reselling, co-working and talent sharing. One the one hand, lies a disillusionment with consumerism, but what is allowing this sharing or collaborating economy to thrive is Big Data. Uber and Airbnb are the best examples of this sharing economy, but there are others leveraging algorithms to create new business opportunities. Upwork, Task Rabbit and are platforms aiding freelance work patterns. We Work is creating co-working infrastructure across cities worldwide. The Lending Club is facilitating peer-to-peer lending. Then there is Rent the Runway that allows women to don designer gowns for major occasions on rent. These companies are not themselves creating any technology but using the power of business analytics, to fuel businesses.


Financial technology or fintech companies are easing the process of transactions and unbundling banks. However, their benefits as of now seem to be limited to the developed world, but not reaching billions of potential unbanked customers in the developing countries. Sings are emerging that this trend is getting rectified by some innovative players. There are three major challenges that all fintech companies will need to find a way out to work best in the developing world. One of them is the infrastructure is missing especially with limited cloud services. Flutterwave in Nigeria has created a solution to deliver payment and banking facilities by bypassing these shortfalls. Secondly, people in these countries do not have the digital footprint that is more common in the developed countries. So SERV’D has developed an app to crate simple but formal contracts for previously unorganized sector workers like nannies, drivers and cooks to provide online payments. Similarly Credit Fix from Pakistan and Sidian Bank of Kenya are conducting data warehousing operations for scores of drivers so that solutions can be provided to them to eventually become independent. Another Pakistani player called Cowlar is tracking the ideal temperature and other conditions for cows by inserting a wearable device around them. Malako in Uganda has developed flexible credit channels using mobile phones to rectify the third major challenge of people leading chaotic lives around a cash based economy.


In spite of being labeled as lazy, narcissistic or idealistic, millennials have now stepped in to be the main components of several new business streams, many of which have been crafted by them. The first one of them is new media economy. This includes Social Networking Services (SNS) and power blogging. Social media tools such as Facebook, Line, WhatsApp, Snapchat and Instagram are now used by billions of people now in some form or the other. The data generated provides enormous insights into usage patterns. The power bloggers on the other hand drive advertising impacts becoming centerpieces in digital marketing campaigns. While the overall scope of IPOs has reduced, it is social media platforms that are generating some of the meatiest of them. China, India, South East Asia and the Middle East region are seeing a renaissance for startups. Intangible currency through digital wallets, mobile payments and bitcoin has now become more mainstream for this generation. Asian countries such as China and South Korea have become massive markets for Bitcoin. The concept of the sharing economy has also gathered ground fuelled by the likes of Uber and Airbnb. In addition there are regional players in Asian countries such as Didi Chuxing in China, Ola in India, Go-Jek in Indonesia and Xend in the Philippines. This generation is in fact much more trusting and collaborative with complete strangers.



Some trends have been identified that are sure to make business more intelligent in the year 2017. The first of them involves conversational systems that are about human dialogue with Artificial Intelligence (AI). Chatbots can carry through conversations with real people, track the data and process to form meaningful business intelligence. Research firms are now tracking such insights to allow more efficient searches. Relevant and contextual information can now be provided to relevant clients. Augmented information will now provide a complete analysis of the subjects concerned and its customers. Big Data will now get more humanized to provide quality instead of pure quantity as was previously valued. The digital assistant is sure to get more intelligent with proactive information tracking. It will be able to predict requirements and suggest solutions likewise. To make all this digital transformation possible, AI needs to be at the centre of all systems.



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