February 17, 2020

My Favorite Areas of Opportunity For The 2020s

It’s that time of year again. Predictions about technology and where it’s going are right, left and center. Particularly so this year because we’re not just entering a new year, it’s a new decade. While I don’t pretend to have much new to add to the conversation, areas of opportunity have been on my mind recently given the changes in my professional life. So (..and I’m aware you didn’t ask) here are my fave three for the 2020s:

The Web Is Meh, Mobile Is Still A Goldrush

This isn’t new. Infact, by 2010, most everyone had already predicted the meteoric rise of mobile. But it’s still true–there’s tons of untapped opportunity. People spend a staggering 90% of their time in native apps vs. on the web (a reality–as sad as it is). This means if you aren’t building apps for Android and iOS, you may as well not exist (with the obvious exception of enterprise software and other products that lend themselves to the desktop environment).

Moreover, it may seem like mobile is saturated after a decade, but it’s not. We’re actually in a sweet spot right now, I think: The barriers to entry are large enough that opportunities abound, but they’re not so big it’s impossible to enter–even as a solo entrepreneur. Frameworks like React Native and Flutter are starting to take hold, and there’s no doubt that, as they mature, the accompanying web app will come bundled in as afterthought. Write once, deploy everywhere. Eventually, it’ll get so easy to break into the low-hanging fruit will disappear. But for now, in my opinion, mobile strikes exactly the right balance of being accessible without being easy.

We’re All Designers And Manufacturers With 3D Printing

A friend of mine makes a living designing, printing and selling bongs (for tobacco use only, of course). It’s funny. It’s also lucrative. 3D printing has slowly been coming into it’s own and I think it’s safe to say it’s “arrived” (albeit quietly). Today, anyone can (cheaply) design and (cheaply) iterate on real-life, value-add products that, once validated, can be scaled and sold. Internalize this and then start looking around–you’ll see untapped niches all over place (needless to say, I have a few things on my docket!)

It doesn’t hurt that the explosion and continued growth of ecommerence adds a nice tailwind; as the world collectively buys more stuff online, the size of the pie–and everyone’s slice–grows.

Automation, Everywhere

A decade ago machine learning and artifical intelligence were just beginning to take hold. Today, they’re everywhere. So much so that it’s now tablestakes for tech companies. If you’re not leveraging ML, in some way, you’re falling behind. Fortunately, as the space has grown, so has accessibility. Most of the practical applications that ML enables are available off-the-shelf. Just take a look at all the cool things you can do with Google and Amazon’s Machine Learning APIs. Not to mention all the great, accessible open-source libraries floating around.

Within the next 10 years, automating information processes will become tablestakes for every company, not just tech companies. Much the same way getting online became tablestakes in the 2000s, and getting on social became tablestakes in the 2010s. This is (currently) the area that excites me the most–particularly because it’s important that we get it right. This tech is so powerful it needs to be democratized, leveling the playing field for all businesses–not just those with the resources to build in-house.