If it ever seems like technology is moving forward at a blistering pace… That’s because it is. Just look at the evolutions and revolutions in digital technology that have taken place over the past 20-30 years. It’s unlikely that even the staunchest of early tech adopters could have anticipated just how ubiquitous digital technologies would become to businesses and consumers alike as we accelerate towards the 2020s. Looking around us, it’s hard to believe that phenomena that are commonplace today from 3D printing to Facebook simply didn’t exist until comparatively recently. But while technology has become increasingly ubiquitous, it is also in a constant state of transition. Everywhere we look, new technologies are primed to change our lives even further. While time will tell whether our increasing reliance on technology will be to our benefit or to our detriment (Elon Musk famously believes that AI will one day rise to be our natural successors like in The Terminator or The Matrix trilogy), we live in exciting and potentially transformative times.
In this light, the world of technology can seem like the perfect place for a savvy first time investor to grow their money. In a climate in which the world of retail is increasingly erratic and unpredictable and the world of big pharma is frequently rocked by scandal, technology can look very appealing to a risk averse new investor. Yet, while technology is certainly a growth industry that’s worthy of investment, this does not make it without risk. Even the safest bets in the world of stock trading can present a high degree of risk, especially if you’re making a substantial investment. But then, if you want to steer clear of risk, buy penny stocks (though don’t be surprised when you don’t see much return on your investment).
Whether you’re a seasoned investor or a total neophyte, you’ll probably be aware that one of the best ways to insulate yourself from risk is to keep your portfolio diverse while still investing heavily enough to reap significant dividends every quarter when your stocks increase in value. Thus, it’s probably a good idea to invest in a number of growth technologies that are currently primed to revolutionize the worlds of business, commerce and lifestyle. Easier said than done, right? But even Fortune Magazine concedes that it’s not only possible but advisable for prudent investors to build an all-tech portfolio. Here we’ve compiled a list of technologies and industries that are worth watching in 2018. They’re big now, but they have the potential to be even bigger a few years down the line…
When you were a kid, you probably imagined that the future of lasers would be in futuristic, white armored warriors shooting at each other with laser rifles. Today, however, the reality of lasers is somewhat more pragmatic than what we may have seen in Star Wars (although many civilian contractors do develop lasers for a range of military applications. As you’ll see by parsing https://laserlight.com/, however, lasers are most commonly used in manufacture and engineering. Lasers are extremely useful for precision cutting, etching and engraving but this is only the tip of the iceberg. Companies that build and develop laser technologies are a worthy investment because laser technology itself is so incredibly versatile. There are very few businesses across a host of industries which cannot benefit in some way from incorporating laser technology into its operations.
Lasers are also a fundamental part of the 3D printing process (the process is called Selective Laser Sintering or SLS) which is itself primed to create a new industrial revolution. 3D printing could, in theory, democratize the nature of manufacture, enabling consumers to build and manufacture for themselves what they would ordinarily need to buy or commission themselves. Thus, the companies that make laser technology for 3D printers are certainly worth keeping an eye on.
Chatbots and AI
For years now, big businesses have used rudimentary AI solutions like chatbots to enhance their operations but as the technologies have become more affordable, a wealth of smaller businesses are now also reaping the benefits of using them. For those not in the know, a chatbot is a rudimentary artificial intelligence that can perform basic customer service functions. They can handle simple queries, direct users to pertinent information and even help to facilitate transactions. You’ve likely encountered more than a few chatbots every time you’ve done some internet research on a product, service or retailer.
Retailers of all shapes and sizes like to use chatbots as they are great for converting passing traffic into sales. In fact, some businesses find that using chatbots on their homepage or landing page can increase their conversion rates by anything from 35% to 100%. Chatbots are available to work 24 hours a day, require no meal breaks and don’t mind not being on a performance related pay scale. As such, more and more businesses are investing in them to ease pressure on their frontline staff, enabling them to deliver a better standard of customer care without having to field queries from time wasters.
In this light it’s easy to see why companies who develop chatbot solutions for businesses are worth your investment. As chatbots become more sophisticated and allow enterprises to save money on human resources while also boosting their sales there’s tremendous room for growth here, too!
Most investors have heard of blockchain, but few understand just how important its likely to become over the next few years. They just know that it’s the next big thing in tech and thus, that they should throw money at it. But blockchain is so multifaceted and can be used in such diffuse ways, it can be difficult to know how to profitably invest in blockchain without at least a rudimentary understanding of how it works and, therefore, why it’s important.
The trouble is that, like the internet itself was 20 years ago, blockchain is difficult to explain to anyone not in the know. Many investors include Bitcoin or some other form of cryptocurrency in their portfolio and know that blockchain technology is what allows these currencies to become impenetrably secure, so this seems as good an entry point as any. What makes blockchain currency so secure is that it is not stored centrally in any one server or cloud based location but across a chain of several locations or “blocks” This makes it more secure as the chain cannot be compromised or hacked from any one location. This has helped to facilitate the secure trading of cryptocurrency.
The efficacy of blockchain, however, doesn’t start and end with Bitcoin, though. A number of businesses from IBM to Kodak are getting in on the action with Kodak using their own form of cryptocurrency, Kodak coin. This blockchain based service allows photographers to store and licence their images directly without the need for a middleman. IBM are currently working on a food safety blockchain pilot with Walmart and even Overstocks are getting in on the act. The applications for blockchain technology are virtually limitless, but it’s important to remember that not all blockchains are uniformly secure, nor are they created equal. When investing in blockchain it’s particularly important to do your homework.
Cloud storage solutions
The cloud is everywhere, and in the past few years more and more have become reliant on it whether we’re aware of it or not. The development of cloud based technologies is important for a few reasons. Firstly, they have the potential to save businesses and individuals a lot of money on their data storage. Unlike physical storage media, cloud based solutions do not need to be perpetually upgraded. They’re upgraded, sure, but the storage provider bears the cost of this, and it is covered by the flat fee paid by the customer. This makes them attractive to virtually everyone from nascent businesses that need to keep a strict eye on their overheads to big corporations who have historically spent a fortune on constantly upgrading their server infrastructure. Cloud based solutions are popular with individuals,too. Consumer trends are moving further and further away from physical media, and its increasingly important for us to be able to access our data quickly and securely on the go from a range of pre-approved devices.
There’s no doubt that cloud based data storage has nowhere to go but up and if you want to get in on the inevitable boom there are a number of blue chip stocks worthy of consideration. Of course there are the old familiars like Microsoft, Intel and Amazon but there are also less familiar but equally formidable players in the data storage game. Gamers may be familiar with Nvidia, an accelerator chip company whose work is most associated with graphics cards for PC gaming, or there’s Equinix, a data center that’s primed for exponential growth over the next couple of years.
Ultimately, there’s no perfect way to invest in tech, just as there’s no perfect way to invest in anything else. But the more homework you do, the more you;re aware of the risks and the more strategically you invest, the more insulated you’ll be from risk while enjoying sustainable returns on your investment.