Education, health and mobile payments: technology experts release their predictions for 2015

Image | HLundgaard

What will happen in 2015? What will the year hold for the technology market? We probably have no idea, says Benedict Evans, one of the voices with the best perspective on the industry from the firm Andreessen Horowitz. He writes, “One reason tech is so fun is that you only really start understanding things at the point they become irrelevant – there are always new questions.” Still, this hasn’t stopped him or investors and experts – who also have the power to decide where their money is going – from sharing their vision.

With all of the background noise of venture capital and funding rounds – which will continue growing as we see new IPOs – here is a summary of their ideas. The trends that they’re betting on for 2015 are the following:

  • Mobile payments. Better yet, “the promise of the mobile payments,” writes Tony Tijan, CEO of the Cue Ball Group, in Techcrunch. “Despite heightened focus, increased investment dollars and strong media buzz around a revolution in the payments space, there has been relatively little tangible change in the way we pay for things. NFC payment hasn’t taken off despite the introduction of Apple Pay, POS integrations are incredibly fragmented and interchange fees are being driven toward zero.”

However, banking is more than just payments between people and stores: there are transfers between users, transfers of currency, technology for banks… Investors and big banks have an eye on it and the space to create technology is wide.

  • Health. Fred Wilson of Union Square Ventures calls it a “Megatrend”. “The healthcare sector will start to feel the pressure of real patient centered health care,” he writes. Wilson sees three key factors: the smartphone becoming an electronic clinic (the kit of Apple and the popularization of monitoring devices are just the beginning), patients themselves treating others (p2p medicine) and people paying for their own health care in the market.

  • Education. Education is one of the biggest sectors in the world. And, along with defense, it’s the sector that receives the most government investment. It’s precisely for this reason and because of its regulations that it faces difficulties keeping pace with technology.

Forbes Magazine has shown us several trends in the sector known as “EdTech”: personalized learning (apps that provide more student data, and better solutions for individualized learning plans – one interesting example is Show My Homework), wearable technology, online education (the valuations for these companies will grow, according to Global Industry Analyst) and blended learning, a combination of online and classroom teaching.

  • The new era of offline commerce and its data. Katherine Barr, partner of MDV, says that, “The traditional retail infrastructure and supply chain logistics as we know it is being disrupted by companies creating new technology platforms and data-enabled distribution systems that have predictive analytics, better customer profiling, deeper consumer engagement, blended online and offline data, and more agile supply chains.” According to this investor, e-commerce platforms will be transformed for the consumer as well as for companies and their logistics.

  • Wearables and virtual reality will continue to grow. In 2014 there was a lot of talk about these – the acquisition of Oculus by Facebook, the launch of the Samsung Gear VR, the launch of the Apple Watch and the popularization of the watches with Android and the “material” that Google has created for its designs. For practical purposes, these have been slow to catch on. 2015 will definitely not be the year of virtual reality according to the experts, but we will see developments for wearables (whose use has been limited to the industry until now). In order to improve its image, Tijan says that, “Creators need to figure out use cases and applications that genuinely simplify everyday tasks, rather than complicate them. 2015 will feature greater entrepreneurial enablement.”