THE BLOG
12/28/2015 01:50 pm ET Updated Dec 28, 2016

Industry Leaders Predict What the Future Has In Store

Technology is speeding up the pace of innovation and propelling us forward, transforming centuries old industries that once seemed untouchable, removing barriers to entry for new businesses, simplifying our lives with one touch access to everything from cabs to hotels to dinner, enabling us to leverage new types of data and information to inform decisions and driving education, connection and inclusion across the world. Today, services that just a few years ago seemed like magic have become inherent parts of our daily lives. Just as quickly as technology has enabled the past few years of innovation, it is currently empowering a new wave.

Executives from industries across ecommerce, payments, security, hospitality and more share their predictions for the future of their markets.

Mobile will drive innovation, inclusion and democratization - Bill Ready, PayPal
Mobile is enabling innovation across long-standing industries, driving financial inclusion globally and democratizing access to tools previously reserved for the few.

"We've been seeing the rise of mobile for a few years now, and its impact on transforming every industry it touches," says Bill Ready, SVP Global Head of Product and Engineering at PayPal. "The lines between the future of technology and the future of mobile are blurring. Next-gen commerce innovators from Uber to HotelTonight are leveraging mobile to change the way we engage with centuries old industries. The spread of mobile across developing and emerging markets is enabling more financial inclusion, and commerce and payments platforms are democratizing access to mobile tools that were once reserved for only the largest commerce players. Mobile is driving innovation, inclusion and democratization across industries and geographies, but mobile is only operating at a fraction of its potential. In the coming years, we'll see mobile drive innovation and inclusion in ways we have yet to see."

Big Data will enable new ways for evaluating risk - Dan Preston, Metromile
New types of data, changing millennial habits, the on-demand economy and autonomous cars will disrupt traditional insurance.

"Across the board, the massive amount of new data coming from low cost technology like sensors is fundamentally changing how we evaluate risk and access new customers. It's fascinating that insurance is likely the longest standing big data problem in the world and it's surprising that it's taken this long for the 'big data movement' to effect this centuries-old industry," says Dan Preston, CEO of Metromile. "Additionally, in auto, we're now undergoing a massive change in use patterns: 1) cities are becoming more dense due to changing millennial habits, 2) the on-demand economy is challenging existing insurance structures, 3) autonomous cars are challenging who is actually posing risk."

Cybersecurity will focus on what happens after a breach - Andrew Rubin, Illumio
Cyber security will no longer be about defending the perimeter but about protecting the interior once breached.

"When your grandmother is asking you about the latest data breach, it's clear that enterprise security has reached a tipping point. Cybercriminals and the attacks they carry out are only getting more sophisticated, strategic, and are having a much bigger societal impact. Right now, they're making it past the firewall more often than not and humans simply cannot keep pace," says Andrew Rubin, Co-founder and CEO of Illumio. "In 2016, two significant shifts will start to take place. Enterprises will begin focusing on security solutions and processes that protect the interior of data centers and cloud environments, behind the perimeter. They will also realize that the only way to remain protected against the flood of attacks that are generated by organized criminals, nation states and machines will be to turn to intelligent, automated and even autonomous technologies that enable cybersecurity professionals to work at the same speed and scale as the hackers they are combating."

Hotels and accommodations will become more personal - Sam Shank, HotelTonight
The hospitality industry will begin to enable much more personalized services and experiences.

"The hotel stay of the future will be increasingly personalized, taking into account the preferences people have opted to share. As a result, I think the hospitality industry will trend towards providing much more human, seamless and authentic experiences," says Sam Shank. "One way we'll see this happen is through growing use of in-app messaging as a way to easily communicate what you want and need during your stay, whether that's interacting with customer support, the front desk or a concierge. At HotelTonight, we've seen great success with our Aces concierge and in-app customer support chat, both of which help people get what they want faster. We'll continue to improve these features in the coming year, and I hope to see other creative messaging innovations across the travel industry and beyond."

Online marketplaces will rise - Marc Lore, Jet
Online commerce will rise and marketplaces will see the majority of the growth.

"As commonplace as online retail already feels, it currently makes up only 8% of total U.S. retail sales," says Marc Lore, Founder and CEO of Jet. "But online mass retailers offer a growing depth of long-tail and specialty assortment that will enable them to fund lower prices on the everyday essentials that drive in-store traffic today. These savings will eventually drive millions of middle-class Americans to move all their shopping online, and when they do, the ecommerce industry will explode. The lion's share of this growth will accrue to marketplaces, which are perfectly positioned to optimize the supply chain, benefitting consumers and retailers alike."

Delivery as a service will lower barriers to entry and drive innovation - Alon Salant, GoodEggs
Delivery will become a commodity service that businesses can tap into, making it easier for more companies to get their products directly to their customers.

"Solving for the last mile--the delivery to the customer--is an ongoing challenge for companies in this space because they've had to build on their own delivery networks," says Alon Salant, Co-founder and CTO, GoodEggs. "There will come a time in the not-so-distant future where that will change--the delivery component will become a commodity service that companies outsource, making it possible for any company to get product to customers' doorsteps. With lower startup and operational costs, we'll see many more companies entering the space because they can innovate more quickly and compete on a larger scale."

New types of data will inform investment decisions - Ali Almufti, Fund Manager, BlackRock
Investors will leverage new forms of data and machine learning to inform investment processes.

"Data driven investing is nothing new. We've been successfully using data to inform investment decisions for decades," says Ali Almufti, Fund Manager, Scientific Active Equity, BlackRock. "What's really exciting now is the kind of data and the amount of data that we're using today, and the fact that there is new data that's created every day. From data generated by sensors on wearables, and ever growing mobile consumer activity, to real time traffic and satellite imagery, there is no shortage of valuable information that can be consumed systematically and help drive more successful investment decisions. Big Data, coupled with advanced machine learning techniques, and sound fundamental sensibility can lead to powerful outcomes. Finance is an industry that has been historically slow to innovate, but in a couple years, everyone will be asking their investment managers how they are using new forms of data in their investment process."

Education will become more flexible -- Daphne Koller, Coursera
New platforms combined with an increased acceptance of online certificates in the workplace will drive additional education.

"In the next few years, many people will be using online courses to transform their lives. Certificates will be commonplace on resumes," says Daphne Koller, Co-founder and President, Coursera. "Four years ago, massive open online courses (MOOCs) gained immediate popularity among a worldwide population of learners who were excited to have access to courses from the best universities. Soon, we realized that a growing percentage of our learners were looking to take the next step in their careers. According to a survey we published this year, 52% of people who complete open online courses report career advancement as their primary motivation. These are people of all ages and backgrounds who often are not well-served by traditional education opportunities. They may not have the option to structure their lives around their education, but rather need the flexibility to mold their education around the constraints of their life. New technology platforms and greater acceptance of online certificates by employers are allowing these people to transform their careers and make a better life for themselves and their families."