- Digital Marketplaces have shown consistent growth over the past several years and continue to be well placed for growth in 2015. Not least among these opportunities is Crowdfunding itself. While not strictly a marketplace, the financial revolution created by crowdfunding will drive investments and innovations, as well as relationships and ancillary services. A thriving mobile app business continues to assist this trend as both established retailers and new entrepreneurs find ways to sell goods through mobile devices, bypassing the need for in-person shopping (and their related expenses).
- Commercial Real Estate is expected to see recovery in 2015 and on the heels of a modest turnaround we will find heightened pressures on existing financial systems that remain cautious and strained from economic troubles of the past decade. Enter Crowdfunding, the benefits of which to real estate have been enumerated by many. The key here is not only that Crowdfunding is a good choice for investors, but also that the confluence of three factors position real estate very well in 2015: slowly recovering traditional financial systems are still hesitant to invest and remain burdened with antiquated processes; a recovering and expanding real estate economy seeking capital opens up buyer demands; and streamlined/low fee alternatives delivered through Crowdfunding permit desired transparency and rapid transactions. Residential real estate investors will also benefit from the same environment commercial real estate is experiencing through wholesaling or flipping homes. But that is another blog.
- Big Data and Fast Information is poised for real growth in 2015. According to Google, there was 5 exabytes (5 billion gigabytes or 5×1018 bytes) of information created from the time we exited caves until 2003; we now exceed that every 48 hours. Big Data has become a catch phrase across technology and business with companies capitalizing on its services. But I am coining a term “Fast Information” to link with Big Data because the issue today is less about gathering data and more about using it. Companies like SpeedTrack have revolutionized decision-makers’ ability to glean useful information out of the data abyss that make up our world today. Companies positioned to move past Big Data through Analytics to Fast Information will see explosive growth over the coming years. 2015 will mark a change in focus that within a few years, no company will live without. Watch for this later in 2015.
- Cybersecurity is one of the greatest threats to our way of life that we have ever faced. The full scale of the threat is probably yet to be determined. But we know from Congressional testimony and the rare glimpses behind the curtain provided by political and financial leaders that the risk to our nation, and the world, is significant. Our financial institutions, utilities, and government itself are under continuous attacks by lone gunmen hackers and hostile governments. The field of cybersecurity is positioned for growth across three key investment areas: hardware technology enhancements, software tools, and technology training/education. Companies positioned to leverage solutions (both immediate and long term) will see real growth and investment opportunities in 2015 as private and federal funds get directed to this area.
- Insurance will see a boom in 2015. There are three interrelated factors. First, companies have been spending uncommonly large funds in marketing during the second half of 2014 and have raised a public awareness around vehicle, health, and property risks and benefits. Second, timing is critical. Our country recently has come off some unusual storms that received continuous media attention with predictions for trouble yet to come this year. And third, digital portals for insurance have streamlined their mobile and web interfaces to make transactions as easy as online banking or online retail purchases. With companies out there stirring up competition and innovations, we could see significant investment activity around insurance and its ancillary technology partners in 2015.
- Personalized Health is a new spin on an old idea that utilizes a variety of mobile technologies from bracelets telling you how far you have walked (as well as mapping where/when and then get downloaded to your device of choice) to apps that allow you to track your food calories, exercise results, and offer suggestions for behavior modification. As devices get smarter, we are relying on them to tell us ways to benefit our personal health. Transferable, personalized health technology will track our activities and when combined with Big Data, Fast Information, Cloud resources, and our own medical history, it will begin to have a more profound impact in our personal lives. And that means both impulse and rational purchases will drive more sales.
- Cloud Domination is a catch-all for the dozens of innovations we will see for consumers and businesses that arise in 2015 through access to the Cloud. Companies playing in this space will see real interest from investors in 2015. Entrepreneurs will develop apps telling us when to change the kitty litter, the household temperature (and access to change it), loads and loads of interactive games, streamlined travel, and pretty much every little convenience a group of ten thousand or more interested buyers could hope. A few of these innovations may find a home in future blogs…
Dr. Rickel is a Senior Advisor at RAZR with executive experience across multiple industries. Member of CFIRA, NLCFA. Todd can be reached at $Doctor@razr.com.