Tech Trends

4 Tech Trends That Have Shaped Commerce in the Last Decade

In the last decade, business has seen a wide range of changes across all industries and sectors. The exponential growth of the internet has changed the trading landscape considerably. Only ten years ago, many organizations did not have dedicated websites and e-commerce was not as highly developed as it is today. In 2023, a corporate website is considered mandatory, even if your organization does not plan to sell products or services online. This is because a web presence can help a company to develop its brand image and reach out to international populations in a way that simply was not possible previously. Across all industries, advancements in technology are driving business innovation and the leading companies are seeking to harness these to gain a competitive edge and ensure their long-term viability in their respective sectors. From healthcare to bespoke jewellery design, the use of innovative technologies is driving change and improvements in working practices that benefit the end user and the business itself. In this article, some of the main tech trends that have shaped commerce in the last decade will be explored in detail.

3D Printing

3D printing has been adopted by a wide range of industries in the last decade. The concept of 3D printing was first described as far back as 1945 by writer Murray Leinster in his short story “Things pass by”, where the process of feeding plastic into a machine that could use a mechanical arm to “draw” the final design was first conceptualized. However, this was a work of science fiction, and it was several decades later that the first 3D printing machines were produced. Today, 3D printing can use a range of materials to produce incredibly accurate designs. The use of precious metals in the printing process has become a reality in the last five years, which has allowed the creation of intricate and bespoke jewelry designs in this sector of commerce. Some building firms are also using large-scale 3D printing machines to construct the next generations of prefabricated buildings, and it is seen that costs can be driven down by using this type of process when compared to more conventional building methods. As technology progresses, more business sectors will likely find uses for this method of production, whether it be for creating prototype designs or end products.

The Rise of Remote Working

In the last three years, remote and hybrid models of working have experienced phenomenal growth with millions of employees now adopting a remote working schedule, at least for some part of the working week. One of the key drivers of this change in working practice was the recent Covid-19 pandemic. As the virus began to spread rapidly around the world, governments recognized that restrictions on the movements of populations could be one of the ways to slow the infection rate and reduce the pressure on healthcare systems. As such, millions of workers were required to work from home when lockdowns were in effect. In 2023, the restrictions on movement and group meetings have been removed in most countries, but remote and hybrid models of work remain. This is because many workers found that they could be more productive when working from home as no time was lost to the morning commute to work and meetings could take place with the use of video conferencing software. In addition, this form of working has allowed millions of employees to gain greater control over their work-life balance. As such, the demand for remote and hybrid models of work remains high in the general workforce. The use of technology has been a critical factor in allowing remote work to take place successfully. Cloud-based applications have ensured that workers can access key corporate systems when working from home if they have a reliable internet connection. Online video conferencing platforms and internet phone systems allow meetings and consultations to take place without the need to be physically present in one location.

Changes to Software Development

Many businesses rely on bespoke software solutions that are created in-house. These can drive a vast range of business processes and activities and are a key component in many forms of commerce. However, as software complexity has increased, the need to maintain and update software systems efficiently has become more of an issue. Put simply, the old style of software creation used singular programs which were difficult to maintain or replace parts, as all the coding was interlinked. Today, there is an increase in the use of microservices when developing software solutions. Microservices break down software into specific functions so that when modifications and maintenance take place, only part of the software program needs to be withdrawn from the stack. This can significantly reduce the downtime for maintenance and upgrade schedules and ensures that productivity remains high.

Drone Technology

Drone technology is starting to have a dramatic impact on a wide range of businesses in terms of how tasks are undertaken. For example, in the agriculture sector, drones are now commonly used to assess crop yields and crop quality by remotely surveying large areas of the field, with the drone being controlled by a human operator. This saves immense amounts of time, as drones can cover a greater area of land in a shorter period than could be achieved with a human worker. Larger drones can also be modified to carry a payload of crop fertilizer and treat a field far quicker than could be achieved by using a conventional tractor. However, it is not just in agriculture that drone usage has become widespread. In the manufacturing industry, drones are commonly deployed to assess factory equipment and check the extent of damage after chemical spills or leaks. This removes the need for human workers to put themselves in a potentially dangerous environment. As a final example of drone technology, it is now being trialed in several emergency services. Some ambulance services are using drones to send life-saving equipment (such as portable defibrillators) to the scene of serious accidents or medical emergencies where time-critical patients need rapid access to such equipment. In rural or remote areas, the use of drones can dramatically reduce the response time to patients and has the potential to save lives.