Every year, IBM releases its “5 in 5” list, which highlights five trends that the company believes will be important in the next five years. Each item on the list focuses on specific sectors: education, retail, healthcare, security and cities. This year’s list revolves around smart computing.
Education: Personalized Learning
For education, IBM sees students’ classrooms getting smarter. With new classroom technology, students will receive customized lessons that will help them work at their own pace, growing with them as they grow. Test results won’t be used just to assess students’ knowledge, but will also inform teachers of where each student can improve, along with how they can improve. IBM sees this happening on a large scale, from kindergarten to college and even into the career phase. The company imagines massive open online courses, along with mobile device apps that allow anyone to learn from anywhere. Considering that American students are falling behind the rest of the world, this can’t happen fast enough.
Retail: Buying Local
IBM believes the future of large retailers like Amazon, WalMart, Target, etc., is limited, and that with new technologies, local brick-and-mortar businesses will rule the next five years. Shopping will become more personalized in stores and instant gratification will be preferred over two-day shipping. In-store shopping will be smarter and virtual stylists will be on hand when you need a new wardrobe. Of course, you’ll still have to leave your house to get stuff like this, so I wouldn't count on Amazon Prime going away anytime soon.
Healthcare: Personalized Cancer Treatment
No two human bodies are alike, but when it comes to health care, most are treated the same way. However, IBM envisions a future where DNA testing becomes standard procedure, not only to diagnose disease, but to formulate treatments and cures. With cancer, instead of focusing treatment on the area of the body affected, imagine tapping into the DNA and figuring out exactly where and why the cancer occurred, making treatment more effective. DNA sequencing has already been used to successfully fight cancer, and IBM believes it could be used for a variety of other conditions, as well.
Security: Digital Security
Security, particularly online, is much more than passwords and anti-virus programs. Identity theft is becoming more common and, of course, we also have to worry about the NSA tapping into our data. In the future, IBM believes everyone will have their own digital guardian, a combination of programs and apps that will protect your online identity. Not only will this guardian learn your patterns online, but it will also let you know when your security is breached.
We’re already a society dependent on our smartphones, tablets and other devices. What if we could tap into our cities and use what our devices know about us to recommend restaurants, show us events of interest and help us avoid traffic jams? IBM imagines the city of the future where things like crowdsourcing, analytics, and physical sensors interact. This new system will also give city leaders a way to interact with their citizens in a way never seen before.