As we end the year, it's interesting to see what was on our collective minds and revisit the stories that defined the year in tech. A lot happened in 2019, some good, some bad. One of the biggest news this year at Singapore tech scene is definitely the news of Carousell acquiring Philippines classified leader OLX, which subsequently merged with 701Search. The two transactions resulted in Carousell reaching a US$850 million (S$1.16 billion) valuation, crowning the brand as the category leader in Southeast Asia’s classified space.
Apart from Trump's impeachment, Wework imploding and Tesla cybertruck launch, 2019 also saw tech revolutions that have far more impact in the years to come. Several tech companies such as lyft, slack, uber, Pinterest had their initial public offerings (IPO) in 2019, but most of them are floundering.
Rise of China
On the surface, it may seem as though the US and China are embarking on a trade war for economic purposes; but there are various layers of competition between the two global economies. Arguably, the most important one is the battle for tech superiority, which closely impacts the economies of the two countries. China is raising not just in Artificial Intelligence but also in other areas such as building farms on space by genomic editing humans and life stock. That’s a bold move for a country only known for its cheap good a decade back. China is also building infrastructure and next-generation internet networks across Southeast Asia and Latin America.
Privacy is officially dead
Whether google listening to our conversations, face recognition on the public cameras or DNA tracking to distant relatives, we are under continuous surveillance. Whether we like it or not, we generate a lot of data that are mined, productized and monetized according. We no longer have the expectation of privacy according to FTI. Companies that rely on data have several challenges such as storing, safeguarding, ensuring the datasets aren’t coded with bias, etc.
Misinformation and governance
All over the world, Social media companies fought back against criticism that their platforms were havens for disinformation. But with all the talent and use of artificial intelligence, it looks like disinformation efforts are on the rise.
Singapore became the leader in creating laws against social media. In October a new law went into effect with the stated purpose of fighting “fake news. Under the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Bill, it is now illegal to spread “false statements of fact” under circumstances in which that information is deemed “prejudicial” to Singapore’s security, public safety, “public tranquility,” or to the “friendly relations of Singapore with other countries,” among numerous other topics. 2020 would be a year of governance on social media platforms.
IoT, Big Data and AI
With the humongous amount of data available today, it has become vital to analyze it for driving meaningful insights. IoT, Big data and AI helps in better decision-making to make fruitful business moves. AI and Big Data techniques are needed to access data in real-time. This has helped to improve the efficiency of processes within business thus offering an enhanced decisive power to strategize a plan of action.
Companies that still aren’t investing heavily in analytics by 2020 probably won’t be in business in 2021. There is simply far too much valuable customer data to be collected, processed and turned into insights for any company to remain competitive without making full use of modern analytics tools. Flying blind and following your gut are no longer viable options when every other business is leveraging sophisticated analytics tools to identify problems, opportunities, and solutions. Every major tech company has already figured out that the future is in data, most specifically, the real-time processing of it.
Now more than ever, every organization should examine the potential impact of tech trends and leaders must be willing to address deep uncertainties by taking incremental actions. Whether you work within a Fortune 500 company, a government agency, a start-up, a university, a foundation or a small business, you must factor the trends in the tech industry into your strategic thinking for the coming year, and adjust your planning, operations, and business models accordingly.