4 Surprising Industries Capitalizing on the Smart Tech Boom

Smart technologies exist in almost every sector imaginable, and in many cases, they assist industries that haven’t historically embraced innovations.

As a result, employees and company leaders are getting acquainted with new ways to work and achieve goals.

1. Accounting

Although the professionals within it are undeniably useful — especially near tax time — the accounting sector is not an industry people typically associate with high-tech solutions. Recently, however, evidence shows an evolution.

The curriculum of Singapore Management University now includes offerings that equip accountants to handle smart software and tools within their future careers.

Cheng Qiang, SMU’s School of Accountancy Dean and Lee Kong Chian, SMU’s Chair Professor of Accounting, believe that big data is the future of the accounting industry.

“The new initiatives that we are introducing at the undergraduate, postgraduate and working professional levels are our response to those demands,” they said. “Our aim is to nurture future talents who are fluent in accounting data and analytics applications.”

It gives students the opportunity to earn a second major in accounting data and analytics.

The school also provides the first master’s program in Asia that specializes in the above subjects, plus focuses on predictive and prescriptive data and how those technologies apply to the accounting field.

Some of the United Kingdom’s biggest accounting firms are also experimenting with ways to automate parts of the auditing process with smart technology. Advocates believe algorithms could reduce manual labor and high-profile errors while completing evaluations faster than humans alone.

2. Agriculture

The agricultural sector is crucial to the ongoing availability of foods people eat every day. Forward-thinking venture capitalists have noticed unmet needs and provided funding to bring technologies to farming and related industries.

For example, sensors connected to the Internet of Things (IoT) give farmers insights about proper water usage, pest infestations and even the tasks carried out by tractors and other agricultural equipment.

Smart Ag, an Iowa-based company, offers a driverless grain cart made with plug-and-play technology that automates and works with existing equipment, helping farmers stay profitable and reduce labor output.

3. Home Construction

Modular residences appeal to people who want a home as beautiful as traditionally built versions that come with a lower price tag, faster construction and off-site building. Companies that sell modular homes and build them for customers are increasingly emphasizing ways to make them more tech-connected and energy efficient.

“Building modular smart homes is much easier today than it would have been in the past,” says Chris Leslie, Sales Coordinator at Westchester Modular Homes. “Many smart technologies are readily available on the market, which makes it easy for us to quickly upgrade any modular home to a smart home.”

“We don’t install connected devices like smart thermostats or security cameras,” Leslie clarifies, “but we can hard wire and prep for those installations in our factory, and then the builder can complete the setup onsite. This makes completing the smart home setup easier for our customers, while also allowing them to choose to purchase any of the latest smart devices available on the market.”

4. Physical Retail

Amazon has significantly cut into the profits of some physical businesses. To remain competitive, merchants offer perks like same-day home delivery, curbside pickup and exclusive deals for in-store shoppers.

Brick-and-mortar stores have traditionally been at a disadvantage for tracking metrics, while online businesses regularly and consistently investigate newer methods. Physical retailers cannot easily check which aisles people visit most often and how long they linger there. However, a Milwaukee-based startup called Scanalytics hopes to change that with integrated floor sensors.

Retail outlets track some customer movements when individuals log onto Wi-Fi and have location-based technology enabled on their smartphones. However, that option only captures the people who use Wi-Fi in the store. In contrast, a system built into the floor could measure the behaviors of a greater number of shoppers as they enter the building and browse the shelves.

After installation, retailers could see how long people stop to look at certain displays. They might also view the average length of time people search for things independently before seeking help or giving up.

RFID tags are also increasingly being used in the physical retail realm to aid in inventory tracking and help store managers ensure outdated products don’t remain on store shelves. Pilot programs are exploring ways to apply the sensor-equipped identifiers to batches of products — such as bags of apples — instead of individual items.

Employees can then scan the tags with handheld devices and receive current information about freshness or other specifics that could answer stock-related questions. Furthermore, RFID technology is useful for cutting down on theft attempts if it monitors how merchandise moves through a store or verifies when people access in-demand items.

As this list demonstrates, even industries that have not jumped quickly on board with new technologies can make positive changes.

As a result, consumers, retailers and manufacturers could all reap the benefits.

Images by Daniel Frese, Freestocks.org, Expect Best and Photo Mix

What do you think?

H2O: An in-memory product delivering the fastest possible analytics speeds

Tableau Software: VizQL and Data Engine