By Sarah Landrum
An exploration of advances in technology innovation in fields such as: Transportation, Hospitality, and Health Care and stories of some of the women leaders who are making a difference in each.
From the smart phone in your pocket to the laptop in your bag, technological advances have changed the way that we go about our daily lives. Changes and advances in technology have also altered the way small and large businesses work, and they’ve begun to adapt these technologies as part of their standard operating procedures. What industries are using the best and most unique tech solutions?
The automotive industry is one of the oldest in the country, but it is one industry that cannot afford to be stuck in the past. The introduction of IoT (Internet of Things), cloud storage and other technological advances have begun to change the face of the industry.
A few innovations that have started to take their place in the industry include:
3D printing – The introduction of 3D printing in the automotive industry allows faster production and more innovation while reducing risk.
Augmented reality (AR) – While most people are currently associating the term “augmented reality” with games like Pokémon Go, car manufacturers are utilizing AR technology in every stage of production.
Artificial intelligence – With the advent of driverless cars, more companies are working toward the creation of an artificial intelligence to make those cars a reality.
The automotive industry is one of the best places for innovation, because it is already so well established but not a lot has changed in the last century. One of the biggest automotive manufactures in world, General Motors, is among the first making some of these changes under the watchful eye of CEO Mary Barra. She’s the first woman to hold the title of CEO at any major automaker in the world.
The health care industry is always changing, due to new discoveries and advances in treatment options and techniques, so it makes sense that it’s one of the industries that is ripe for unique technological solutions as well.
This particular industry has been a bit slower in adapting these new technologies due to the sheer number of rules and regulations they have to contend with.
Data privacy is one of the most important things to consider, and whenever you’ve got advances in technology, there is always the potential for data theft. Advances in technology always have to be accompanied by advances in data security.
One of the most useful tools that has made its way into the health care industry is the introduction of the industrial computer. These powerful machines are perfect for the intricate and specific nature of the health care industry. Instead of relying on potentially fallible human workers to determine the proper mixture for medications, compounds or other pharmaceuticals, an industrial computer can be used to process all the calculations necessary in a fraction of the time. Additionally, they can be used to record production data, monitor the production itself or simulate the processes used during production to find and prevent potential problems.
Companies like 23andMe, headed by CEO Anne Wojcicki, has been a force in the field of genetics for more than a decade, back before the human genome had even been fully mapped. Since it’s foundation, Anne’s company has genotyped more than a million individuals, and 80% of those people have allowed their genetic information to be banked, creating a massive database that could potentially be the source for amazing discoveries in the future.
The hospitality industry isn’t one you would normally associate with technical advances, but there are quite a few quiet advances that are being made in the industry to make your next stay more comfortable.
The three most common technology-related issues in the hospitality industry are:
PCI (Payment Card Industry) compliance – This ensures that not only are the payments from the guests being processed correctly, but that the system is secure and protected from hackers who might seek to steal credit card information.
Hotel identification numbers – There are so many hotels across the globe that finding the one place you want to stay at can seem like searching for a needle in a haystack. Creating a system of individual identification numbers for hotels can make it easier for travelers to find what they need and simpler to keep track of internal information as well.
Support for guests with disabilities – Offering support for guests with disabilities is one of the most important things a hotel can do, and this often includes installing new hardware — such as wheelchair lifts, elevators, etc. — and software to make sure every guest is able to stay comfortably, no matter their ability.
By incorporating technology into the hospitality industry, it becomes much easier to solve these problems and any new problems that may arise. Enplug, headed by CEO Nanxi Lui who is a self-taught coder, has created some of the most unique solutions to the hospitality industry’s problems. Their digital displays are the perfect tools to manage the PCI compliance and support for disabled guests that we mentioned above.
The food service industry is another one that’s been touched by the swift and steady advance of technology. Have you ever ordered your lunch form a smart phone app? If so, then you’ve already experienced some of the unique advances that are moving the food service into the future.
What other advances have made their way into your favorite restaurant or snack bar?
Tablets – This can be as simple as using a tablet instead of a traditional cash register, or much more involved, with tablets on every table that are all synced to a central hub, allowing your guests to order food, request drinks or even pay their bill from the comfort of their corner table. If you’ve eaten at any major chain restaurant in the last couple of years — i.e. Applebee’s, Chili’s, etc. — you’ve probably already encountered this set-up.
Biodiesel converters – Rather than paying someone to take away your used cooking oil, you can invest in a biodiesel converter that converts animal or vegetable oil waste into fuel. By including a biodiesel generator in your investment, you can potentially reduce your establishment’s fuel consumption and carbon footprint all in one swoop.
Insurance has always been an enormous headache. You find yourself asking if you’ve got enough coverage, or wondering what your deductibles are for the year. Introducing new technology to the insurance industry has been a great way to make the entire process more efficient and functional. Utilizing digital marketing, for example, has been shown to cut costs, reduce turnaround time and improve overall customer conversion rates.
Digital marketing for insurance hasn’t yet replaced the need for the human insurance agent, especially for the older generation that might have trouble with online applications or forms, but it is definitely making the job easier for the majority of the marketplace.
The transportation industry is one that can really benefit from the introduction of technology. Shipping companies use up millions of gallons of fuel every year carrying products from one end of the country to the other. What if you could take advantage of the laws of aerodynamics to reduce that fuel cost?
That’s exactly what Peloton Technologies has done with their “platoon” program.
Drafting behind semi trucks isn’t anything new — people have been tailgating semi trucks to save a little bit of fuel for years, no matter how dangerous it actually is.
By utilizing a wireless link between two vehicles, Peloton Technologies is able to safely drive two semi trucks with as little as 20 feet of space between them. This results in a 10% increase in fuel savings for the truck following, and a 4.5% increase in fuel savings for the truck leading the platoon.
With thousands of trucks on the road every single day, those small percentages add up quickly.
This is just a small sampling of the industries that are utilizing new and unique technologies to create the best service possible. These technologies will only continue to advance as the years pass, and it will be amazing to see where they go from here. While there is still a dramatic divide between the genders when it comes to STEM fields, there is no lack of brilliant women working to change our world.