When we think about the latest in technological advances, many of us might picture a package-delivering drone, or maybe Elon Musk in the front seat of a self-driving, zero-emission sedan. But there are some pretty amazing technologies that are already making waves within smaller, niche industries as well.
That's because up and coming technology is not just for the big players. Forward-thinking niche markets and small businesses are smart to look into the latest innovations to help them work more efficiently and adapt to consumer trends.
Harvard Business Review (HBR) recently conducted research regarding technology's impact on business processes. They found that "digitally transformed organizations ('digital leaders') performed much better than organizations that lagged behind ('digital laggards'), effectively creating a 'digital divide' across companies." Some markets may tend to shy away from investing in innovative technologies, but that just means they are missing out on yet-to-be-uncovered potential.
Look at libraries. The internet changed the way we consume information forever. And when Amazon first came out as an online bookstore, it changed the way we purchased reading materials. Those huge advancements had a profound effect on the public library system, and libraries could have become obsolete. But instead of falling to the wayside, libraries nationwide embraced technology and went digital. Libraries now offer e-books online, and many even offer GPS systems to locate materials, 3-D printers and mobile apps.
The insurance industry is another example of a niche use of innovative solutions to keep up with technological trends. HBR notes how IoT is helping auto insurance companies monitor the driving habits of their customers, in order to learn about unsafe driving behaviors and to reward safe drivers. According to Garter, "digitally-progressive insurers outgrew those not investing in digital capabilities by 36%" from 2013 to 2016.
Dentistry has been using artificial intelligence in the form of voice recognition to help hygienists and dentists input data and check records without having to stop working on a patient, and can help with keeping patient records up-to-date. AI also has the potential to be a game-changer for the health industry in general when it comes to diagnostic and prognostic innovations.
CPG & Retail
In the case of virtual reality, your friendly neighborhood grocer might not stand out as a leader in virtual innovation. But in fact VR creates an opportunity for retailers and manufacturers to work more efficiently behind the scenes. Virtual simulations help teams create winning in-store concepts without the risks associated with timely and expensive concept iteration, mock stores and unreliable survey data.
Once companies can accept the learning curve that comes with adopting new innovations like these, they can have a profound and lasting impact on an organizations business processes, workforce efficiency and data mining. Soon, instead of being surprised that niche markets are leveraging technology in innovate ways, we'll come to expect it.
Bonus: See for yourself how VR is being leveraged by retailers and manufacturers to ideate, evaluate and active winning in-store concepts!