Vinco Game Changers
Speaker: Mohan Belani
4 February 2015
Power Trends of the Future
Mohan Belani is in a good position to share about upcoming trends. The co-founder of e27.co is also in charge of running Echelon, Asia’s premiere technology and business conference. Here is his take on the 9 hottest trends in Asia (and around the world):
Going beyond fitness wearables, there are now much more well designed products with real world applications in health care and beyond. The wearables industry is only expected to become more mainstream, hitting $8 billion in 2018. There are jackets with solar panels which can charge your smart phones; and a glowing orb with an accompanying clip for your pillow, which analyses and helps you make your sleep even better. Don’t forget smart glasses too, they would likely make a bigger comeback in future.
Although not a new creation, e-commerce has huge numbers behind it. In the US, where the market is more mature, e-commerce sales broke the US$1 trillion mark a few years back in 2012. However, Asia-Pacific is where the total projected e-commerce sales is expected to be the largest (2012-2017). Asian countries with the biggest markets are China, India and Indonesia (surprise!) for now, but the absence of the other emerging markets are not to be forgotten. A region of rising disposable income and greater internet penetration, there is a lot of untapped potential for online retailers as more people in APAC go online.
3. Mobile Consumption
Just in Asia-Pacific, out of a population of ~3.882 billion people, there are 1.255 billion users of internet on the mobile phone. Compared to the US, there is ample room for growth. Ads on phone apps have now become the most popular way in which we are exposed to advertisements (48%), followed closely by search engines (40%). Also, of all mobile phone users, up to 68% have spent money through their phones, which makes it very attractive to businesses to tap on this market.
4. Mobile Messaging
There are many choices for consumers: Line, WeChat, WhatsApp, Kik, Viber and more, but these apps seem to be more popular in some countries but not others. When Facebook bought over WhatsApp for ~$19 billion recently, the war for users just got hotter. In terms of innovation, the future seems to gravitate towards a migration of social networks to contact lists, like what Humin does.
5. Internet of Things (IoT)
Also known as “the connected life”, it is the future where every device is connected to the internet, and is able to communicate with other devices too. Increasing adaptation of IoT across more different products will also bring about the ability of the devices to modify itself to situations. SmartThings can outfit your entire house with devices that would recognise your routines and preferences, from lights to locks and motion sensors.
6. 3D Printing
Mohan believes that 3D printing will take Asia by storm. The constant technological advances in this field will only open more possibilities of what 3D printing can accomplish. There have been houses built using parts from 3D printers, and makeup whose exact shade and color can be printed from home, using a special printer called Mink. Amazon has also begun listing 3D printed items for sale, as a small start. When large companies start to take notice of something, it means that the industry is very likely to pick up or change.
7. Virtual Reality 2.0
There has been more interest in recent years about virtual reality (VR). The Oculus Rift will finally be offered to consumers sometime this year in 2015, bringing VR to many more people than before. The head-mounted virtual reality display has mainly attracted interest from the gaming industry and gamers themselves. VR also has other applications in surgery, flight stimulation, travel and even for very expensive property developers who outfit the houses with virtual furniture.
8. Beacon Technology
This technology is not new, but the recent meshing of beacons and smartphones have sprouted many new applications across industries. Beacons are low-cost and low-energy pieces of hardware which can detect and send prompts to smartphones, when they are in physical proximity. Retailers have begun to utilise this technology, sending customers offers and targeted information as they walk around the store. Virgin Atlantic has beacons to recognise its customers during check-in. Beacons merges the online/offline experience, and will change the way businesses interact with customers indoors.
Drones are also known as Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVS), and are either controlled by a person or have pre-set programmes. They are fast, efficient and consume little energy. Coca Cola used drones to drop off cans of cold cola to foreign construction workers (a tie in with the Singapore Kindness Movement), while Amazon and Alibaba are testing the use of drones to deliver parcels. Unlike the USA, there is currently not much regulations on how drones can be used in many parts of Asia.
Ending off the session, Mohan posed a rhetoric question: How can we use trends to offer real world value, and create a better world out of it? At least we are all aware of the biggest technological trends that is happening around us right now.
Question and Answer Session
On Robotics: Robots are fascinating, but their cost, size, weight and power consumption pose some issues. They are very hot in Japan. They are very useful when fused with other technologies (for specific applications), for example, cars.
On Crowdfunding: It is a huge game changer for fund raising and backing. It gives consumers access to products before they are officially launched. When products or ideas receive a lot of crowdfunding, it does two things: first being validation and market acceptance. The second is the reduced risk for investors, who are also more willing to fund companies doing well with crowdfunding.
On Marketplaces: A platform is not the same as a marketplace (Uber, Airbnb). Marketplaces are good for services that can be scaled on a global level. As the size of the audience goes up though, the cost goes down and becomes commoditised. Therefore marketplaces have to evolve, like what Uber did when it branched out into deliveries. The steps are (1) Build core (2) Build audience (3) Add more value added services
On e27’s Next Big Thing: There are no plans to offer new services for now, but instead to focus on a wider audience and entering new markets (Australia, Myanmmar, Indonesia). The Echelon conference is one of our main events, as well as an upcoming invite-only investment opportunity.
On Innovations in Education: There will be more use of apps to drive children to consume information. The real innovation in education will be the tracking, monitoring and automated dispensing of tailored content for the child’s progress. Learning will suit the learner’s abilities, content will evolve by itself, and teachers will have access to dashboards full of information. Analytics will be available and children’s abilities across countries can also be compared. This would be when education has transformed.
Jocelyn Ke (www.jocelynke.com)