As 2017 ends, it’s time to start looking forward to the opportunities and challenges a new year presents. Inside UL spoke with several of our company’s future-focused leaders to learn their thoughts for 2018.
The question: What is the biggest challenge facing your industry next year?
Here are their answers.
Melissa Albrecht, Program Manager, Additive Manufacturing
For a disruptive technology that has been around for over 30 years, one of the additive manufacturing industry’s greatest challenges is making the transition from rapid prototyping to production.
Much of this stems from a lag in the knowledge and expertise of the workforce due to the rapidly evolving technology, the change in design principles and the inherent variability that its manufacturing process introduces.
An industry that was dominated by hobbyists and tinkerers is now facing the pressures that come along with industrial manufacturing and better yet, the next industrial revolution.
The industry will need support navigating the regulatory landscape as new materials are developed and the technology evolves. They will need guidance in facility safety management and workforce safety training. And, they need a trusted advisor to advance innovation, safety and quality. UL helps manufacturers overcome these challenges across the entire additive manufacturing value chain from design through end-product testing and certification.
The key will be to help organizations figure out how to fully realize the benefits of the technology as it relates to their business needs, and do it safely and reliably.
Maarten Bron, Director of Innovation, Transaction Security
The banking and financial industry has changed rapidly over the past several years, leaving many traditional institutions behind as technological innovation with payment processing accelerated. A company must be open to change, agile in navigating these changes, live digital 24/7 and be able to do it all fast.
The Second Payments Services Directive (PSD2) implementation in Europe brings a whole new set of challenges to the industry by breaking the monopoly of payment networks and banks. Under PSD2, third parties can take consumer deposits or initiate a transaction for a customer.
The European Commission’s goal to standardize, integrate and improve payment efficiency is causing headaches with financial institutions as they must expend capital to prepare for the directive and they are wary of new competition coming into the market.
Which bring us full circle back to speed in the marketplace. Whoever can adapt to these and other changes in the evolving payment industry will retain relevancy in the new year.
Tom Blewitt, Chief Technology Officer, Consumer Business Unit
The trend in the consumer marketplace has been for traditional and non-traditional service providers alike to innovate with technology, to potentially disrupt traditional markets. They seek to provide value by adding functionality and convenience to the user experience often with, however, mixed consumer interest. Take virtual reality for example. It has been widely promoted for the promise of its immersive gaming experience, yet not adopted by consumers on a mass scale. Why?
Perhaps the better question to ask is what? That is, what will entice people to spend more for what is billed as innovative and smart technology? I’ll pay a little for a device that responds to my simple questions or fills out a grocery list, but not a lot when I perceive that to be of limited value. If it is necessary to register, download, install, update and then perhaps have to troubleshoot or redo these steps, I’ll also probably wait for a later technology unless I’m getting real and immediate value from the technology. This is true for consumers in general, I believe.
So, looking ahead, the real challenge to consumer industries is to get past what may be considered the “gadget” stage and to really understand what consumers value and then deliver a simple and intuitive way to obtain that value. Because, as consumers, we’ve all seen or been sold “smart” technology and we’re now wiser for it.