La Fosse Associates interviewed 5 experts find out which developments they were most excited about across their respective industries, and what the future of innovation looks like in their sector.
Whether you're looking to expand your investment horizons or just interested in what ground-breaking tech looks like outside your sector, see below for 5 lightning tours, from the horizons of Healthtech to the new Super-Computer.
Healthcare: Your Body as a Car - Rabin Yaghoubi
Rabin Yaghoubi has extensive experience in marketplaces, media, mobility and medtech, most recently engaged as Chief Commercial Officer for Babylon Health.
"The ultimate solution to our systematic healthcare problems is moving from costly treatment to cost-effective prevention. By applying AI and predictive analytics we can ultimately use technology to do for your body, what sensors have already done for cars, namely continuously monitoring them to pre-emptively identify small issues before they become big (and expensive) ones.
The ability to collect quality data is key. However, healthcare data today is disparate and even the most basic methods for measuring someone's health are expensive, cumbersome and infrequent (e.g. blood testing).
By developing less invasive and ongoing ways to monitor your health, we can significantly reduce the cost and effort of data collection, while improving the quality and frequency of the data. We can then apply AI across large populations to recognise predictive patterns. This could help identify people who are at higher risk of certain conditions, enabling earlier intervention.
Always-on, always-on-you mobile phones and wearables are at the centre of these advances in constant data collection and analysis, with current examples ranging from health trackers to plug-in ECG accessories to mood measuring apps for your mental health. Mobile technology has improved alongside other advances in diagnostic services, such as affordable genetic, blood and urine home testing kits as well as innovation in areas like breath and voice analysis.
This progress represents early inroads into the “quantified self” and will invariably allow us to enter the incredibly powerful world of predictive and preventative medicine, whereby our bodies and our minds, like our cars, no longer break down."
Heavy Industry Heavy-Hitters: Drone Tech – Chris Billimore
Chris Billimore has recently held digital transformation leadership roles (including Group CIO) for two leading international infrastructure groups. Read his full article on 'Constructing Innovation'.
"Innovative technologies are at the forefront of the construction industry, providing exciting new opportunities for those working across the sector, from architects to builders to operators.
One example is drone technology; whilst some companies are still reticent, its use is becoming more widespread. Drones can be mounted with laser scanners or photography equipment to make infrastructure condition assessments. In addition to quality, time, cost and safety benefits, this also lessens or eliminates the need for disruptive traffic management. The drones fly alongside long linear assets like power transmission cables, motorways and railways, reducing the need to temporarily close stretches of motorway lanes or railway lines.
The University of Leeds is pioneering a £4.2 million infrastructure research project on self-repairing cities. This includes a "Perceive and Patch" project, where drones are first used for early detection of wear in asphalt, and then mounted with a 3D printer to pre-emptively restore the surface condition before a pothole occurs. The repair can take as little as a minute - the only traffic management necessary is a change in traffic light sequencing. Recently there has even been discussion of the drones projecting holograms of bollards around themselves."
Watch a demonstration of the drones in action.
Insuretech: Neural Networks - Kevin Findlay
Kevin Findlay is a product and business-focused CTO, currently working at the largest independenant MGA in the UK.
"The technologies creating the biggest buzz in insurance are the Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence, Smart Contracts and Distributed Ledgers (e.g. Blockchain operates on a distributed ledger model.) How these trends play out is up for debate.
For example, to get Distributed Ledgers to work commercially you need a lot of participants to buy-in at the same time. It's common for companies to pose the question - “Why do I need a distributed ledger, when I already have an internal one”.
Artificial intelligence and prediction algorithms have been the staple diet of insurance actuaries (who are the data scientists of insurance) for years. What’s new today is the introduction of additional data and its application to insurance distribution, optimising sales and improving back office operations.
This has been enabled by the availability of cheap hardware and improved software development platforms, as well as improvements in the core AI/Neural Network algorithms. Neural Networks are computing systems which mimic the brain's physical structure and information processing, with a web of interconnecting elements which allow it to process decisions in a more 'human' way.
These developments enable us to use data to better target insurance policies, though advances should always be mediated by the ethical standards which must be applied when handling personal data.”
Data and Analytics: The Single Memory Super-Computer – Matt Wright
Matt Wright is an IT business leader and CIO, currently working for a Global CPG business. Read his Data and Analytics Spotlight for La Fosse.
"The things I'm excited about from an IT perspective are the new technologies, like SAP Hana and HP's 'The Machine', which are fulfilling the promise that IT has been making for some time to business to make real time reporting, eradicating the need for databases.
As someone who's been in IT for 30 years, the opportunities these kinds of technologies present are just mind-bending. We're seeing massive advances in the ability to manipulate and virtualise data and protect systems of record, which provides really exciting opportunities for the business and for IT."
Fintech Forum: Let's Look Beyond Blockchain – Neira Jones
Neira Jones is a NED, independent advisor and international speaker with more than twenty years' experience in financial services and technology. She recently shared her insights with La Fosse on payments' investment horizons, and her 5 predictions for the space in 2018.
"Blockchain has specific applications in the trading and identity space – the UK government has recently been urged to put passports on the blockchain to create a single national identity, whilst companies such as R3 and Ripple demonstrate its efficacy in global financial networks, or Investpop for the creation of smart contracts. Last year we saw the explosion of the ICO, further garnering investment highs.
However, many people are getting swept up in the buzz without understanding what they're investing in. Blockchain has its limitations: it is not at the stage where it can process low latency transactions such as retail payments.
If you are looking at the payments space there are plenty of points of interest beyond blockchain, which have less of an expensive price-tag. Payments and identity go hand in hand, and regulatory pressure such as PDS2 are further driving these developments with demands for greater authentication through biometrics and behavioural analytics.
Technologies which enable you to examine and protect the consumer, such as AI and machine-learning, are also worth close attention, as is anything around cybersecurity – the emergent ecosystem of 'Regtech' is thriving, with some commentators calling it the 'new fintech'."
Emma Roderick is a Senior Consultant specialising in Private Equity at La Fosse Associates.
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