Over the last ten years, technology has rapidly changed in two major and distinct ways: it has become more interconnected and more personal.
These technological transformations have seeped into the personal finance service industry, changing the way we invest and trade. Here at Alpaca, we understand the changing nature of trading and how this impacts what consumers want and need in their investing tools. Our data needs to be updated in real time, easy to interpret, and personalized based on our unique interests, investing strategies, and portfolios. This desire for a more personalized technological experience coupled with the interconnected nature of technology has cultivated the perfect atmosphere for artificial intelligence to thrive.
The Last Decade: From Desktop to Mobile
The trend first began with the smartphone, when Steve Jobs announced the first version of iPhone on his stage at WWDC 2007. BlackBerries and PDAs had existed by that time, but most thought that you couldn’t do much with these handheld devices and computer abilities were reserved for desktops.
Then came the debut of the iPhone, with its huge touch display and minimalistic home button, unlike any other previous handheld devices that tried to conglomerate keyboards and other desktop elements into one device. Originally, we were astounded by the multi-functionality of the smartphone. Never before had we been able to take notes, receive real time news alerts, talk to friends, and scroll through social media all on one device; our tasks became aggregated into one small, incredibly valuable piece of technology. The moment I held my first iPhone, I felt a sense of power and access like never before; the entire Internet was resting in my hands. It was not a mini-version of Desktop computer. It was something different.
Since then, everyone has rushed into the rising mobile app space, finessing to win over consumers with products that provide immersive, distinct experiences. For the first half of this decade, many of those involved in Desktop computing laughed at the smartphone, claiming it was merely a toy.
A decade later, these critics are almost laughable; the smartphone is so much more than a toy. Every generation, from children to seniors use smartphones in daily life, and Desktops are only used in offices. We have also seen immense growth in digital products and services, as commerce and marketing has moved to the mobile scene.
This small, handheld device has immense power over our society, as all of our tasks have been aggregated to the smartphone. Young people have stopped reading physical books, insisting on utilizing mobile apps on their smartphones instead. People write novels and take notes on mobile devices, and are able to make power point presentations and art sketches from the tips of their fingers. The mobile phone has become the center of urban human life, despite lots of reluctant critiques at the beginning. The book Innovation’s Dilemma shares an anecdote from the 80’s demonstrating this fascinating progression of technology. It delves into how computers were started off as huge machines located in the basements of buildings. The typical desk worker had no idea what is was or how it worked. All the tech giants laughed at the premiere of Desktop computers, claiming nobody would use such humungous, confusing technology. As we can all attest to today, these tech giants were quite wrong.
The advent of this multi purpose masterpiece changed our society in ways we are still only beginning to understand. The smartphone not only effectuated great societal change, but additionally has engendered further innovation in the device industry, spawning the creation of other multi functional devices. In addition to your iPhone, you can also extensively track your steps and heart rate on your Apple Watch, play music with your Amazon Alexa, read on your Kindle, and do work on the go on your tablet. The crazy thing about these new devices is that they are all connected virtually to the Internet and share intelligence in cloud. In a sense, every device you have shares a brain, and can remember you and your preferences no matter if you are on your Apple Watch or your Google Home.
One can think of IoT not as the internet of things, but rather the Internet of Humans; built specifically for us and all of our needs, crafting an intricate web across our worlds. The IoT market is teeming with opportunity and diversity; we are seeing the introduction of this interconnected technology in several industries. In the smart speaker industry, Google, Amazon, Sony, and Apple are just a few of the players fighting to set their intelligent, products apart from the others. Automobile wise, high end cars are now equipped with some sort of intelligence connected to the internet, improving the infotainment system in the car.
From these examples, we can see how the nativity of these interconnected, cloud utilizing devices has presented customers with something we previously did not have: a choice. We used to just have our smartphone and maybe our computer, but now we have a plethora of multifunctional devices to work on, socialize with, and use. Our device of choice depends on our preferences; but the key benefit of the IoT is that no matter what device we choose to use, it will remember who we are and provide a personalized experience.
The New Wave of Applications for the IOT Age
The IOT age has bread a new wave of applications built to assist on multiple platforms, most notably the introduction of Chatbots. Some of the top-running bots are already available on many devices, such as Desktop computers, smartphones, and slack. Some are reluctant to trust the capability of these bots and their future integration into our lives, but I urge you to maintain an open mind. Just as the computer and smartphone became integrated into our culture, soon too the chatbot will be just another part of our society and technological experience. We will see another paradigm shift: from the current mobile movement to a new age dominated by AI.
In this new age, people enjoy the plethora of device options, using them interchangeably . You may ask for a reminder from your watch and get a notification on your Desktop while in the office. There is one particular challenge, though, from the product standpoint; the user interface. We only have a few choices to provide the same experience, that can equally work in big screens, mobile, watch and voice-oriented systems. That is language-based approach and that’s why AI is going to be important.
Evolution of AI and Personalization
Personalization could mean lots of things. With personalization comes the certain challenges, as each device is designed differently and boasts specific functions. Some may possess high quality visual aspects, and some may only have voice output. We must be aware of the limitations and advantages of each device in order to fully optimize and distinguish each experience. Brand new devices struggle to easily enter the societal norm, because with a technology comes an idea of the user experience. Although the idea of wearing a computerized watch was weird at first, people got used to it and now not having a watch that can tell you the weather and notify you of a snapchat is strange. Similarly, the idea and experience of virtual reality will soon become accepted by society, as people get used to the Facebook Oculus and Google Dream experiences.
In order for us to build a personal finance service that thrives in this IoT atmosphere, we must incorporate artificial intelligence so we can understand each user and personalize information correctly. Artificial intelligence allows us to incorporate the growing demand for a personalized and interconnected experience. Here at Alpaca, our AI centered product satisfies these two demands, as we have created a virtual personal finance assistant that works on several devices and uniquely caters to the demands of each user. For an automated service to personally work with users, AI is the only way.