There are many more technologies being worked on that will have major impacts for our industry.
Driverless cars and their impact to the future model for car insurance is one. Quantum computing is another. When QC does eventually become a reality, and I am convinced it will, it will become an enabler for the exponential growth of all of the above technologies and more.
Research organisations like the MIT are also working on innovations that will have a big impact over the longer term. I went to MIT last year and was blown away by some of the stuff they were looking at in their R&D labs. They are working on new innovations that are out of this world.
One example that stayed with me is their research on contact lenses. Forget Google Glass, how about putting in a contact lens that projects a screen in the front of your eye and uses blinks or your voice as a interface. One blink for a left mouse click, two clicks for right.
Some theorists predict a future where there will be sensors integrated with our bodies. We will effectively all be able to communicate with each other and things through our minds (which will really just be our minds sending a wireless message to a sensor in another person or an object).
While I am secretly very interested in some of these futuristic innovations, I suspect they will be too far out in the future to worry about during my career in financial services.
So what should financial services companies be doing about new and emerging technologies?
First, make sure that you have a division in your organisation that is focused on keeping abreast of new and emerging technologies.
Technology is moving so fast and there is so much going on that you need a team to filter out the noise and work through what may actually have a practical application in the industry.
Make sure you are hooked into some of the real thought leaders in this space. Personally I use organisations like MIT, IBM, Gartner and futurists like Michio Kaku for a lot of my insight, but there are many organisations and individuals who make a living out of creatively thinking about what might be.
Second, educate your executive team and your board on the increasing pace of change in technology and try to convince them that no organisation should remain complacent. The financial services industry is particularly susceptible to disruptive technologies and always has been.
Finally, create a test and learn culture in your organisation. Invest in trying out a few things. When creating a proof of concept, try to make it as real as you can. I am not a big fan of proof of concepts being run by engineering teams. I believe that we should be focusing more on proof of value - which means that you need to test new ideas on real business problems.
What new and emerging technologies would you have included in your top five?