From greener fuels to better beer, biotech has long played a part in how our businesses operate. Right now, enzymes are being added to bread and denim, making them both softer and longer-lasting. With trends towards environmentally friendly products by consumers and business alike, Australian company Biopak has experienced a rapid growth through their sustainable packaging made out of a starch-based bioplastic; with a not dissimilar, café-specific product The Juggler, offering a low-wastage milk system for hospitality spots.
Sustainability has spread to tech, where “green computing” is now a movement that seeks to reduce the running costs (and hence power consumption) of IT and digital setups in business — good for the business, and the environment. Whether you’re running a café or a creative agency, sustainable digital solutions might be available to you.
Things are looking up
Vertical farming could be the next big thing in food and tech. These are high-tech grow houses, commonly found in urban areas. Using much less water than traditional farming methods, produce, often intended for local consumption, is grown with no soil or sunlight, stacked to reduce surface area. They utilise artificial lighting, climate control and in many cases hydroponics. They might change the way we eat, the cost of produce and if we’re lucky, eliminate some major world hunger issues. There are large-scale operations underway in the US, while in Australia, Vertical Farm Systems sell units that might change where your restaurant gets its basil from.
The ‘Internet of Things’ refers to the connections between the online and physical worlds, which get literally and figuratively stronger every day. More of what we do can be monitored via the internet; the data collected and how we use it has a number of implications for small business. Picture a mobile point-of-sale system that is connected to warehouse robots, loaded into a driverless car for frictionless online shopping. It’s happening now, and the possibilities are endless.
Real-time access to information means businesses can respond quickly to improve operations, increase loyalty and create new sources of revenue. The ability to see across business operations, tracking progress from point to point, allows for greater efficiencies. This in-turn influences real-time decisions about pricing, logistics, sales, and support. For small retailers, wholesale, and hospitality operators, there are already affordable, tablet-based POS systems like Revel or Impos that use the connectivity to streamline systems while monitoring stock levels. Financial reports become easier to generate, and since it’s all cloud based, owners can monitor operations when they’re not on the floor.
Delivery by drone
Drones have become increasingly accessible. Current models on the market, like the Parrot Quadricopter or the Lehmann LA 100 are marketed for photographers and filmmakers, but there’s no shortage of alternative uses. Drones offer a way to conduct inspections that might otherwise be difficult or dangerous. Budget airline easyJet has begun using drones for aircraft safety inspections, Shell employs them as a safer means for inspecting hard to reach or more volatile parts of trigs and energy plants, and they are being used locally by construction companies and real estate agencies to provide otherwise-difficult perspectives on properties. Some, like the Parrot mentioned above, can be controlled from your smartphone or tablet.
Recent moves by DHL and Amazon would suggest that the future of delivery might rest in the mechanical hands of drones. In the UK, Amazon Prime Air is looking to drop packages weighing less than 2.2kgs at customers’ doors within half an hour of an order being made.
The future might see delivery drivers needing to brush up on their FlappyBird skills if they want to stay in business!
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