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IBM: In 5 Years, Buying Local Will Beat Buying Online
Written by Malek


In five years, doctors will use your DNA to keep you well. Cities will be smarter and use social feedback to make residents part of decision-making processes, and retailers will leverage the power of mobile devices to upgrade in-store buying to the point where it will be a better experience than buying online.

Or so says IBM in its annual "5 in 5" predictions report, which considers five ways technology will change the way we live within five years.

"A new era in computing will lead to breakthroughs that will amplify human abilities, assist us in making good choices, look out for us and help us navigate our world in powerful new ways," the IBM report predicts.

Here’s a breakdown of its five top predictions for the years ahead.

The classroom will learn you


5 in 5 Storymap: The Classroom Will Learn You

With the help of e-learning platforms and cloud analytics, teachers will learn more about each student and her learning styles.

“The classroom of the future will give educators the tools to learn about every student, providing them with a tailored curriculum from kindergarten to high school and on to employment,” the report reads. “In the next five years, the classroom will learn about each student using longitudinal data such as test scores, attendance and student’s behavior on e-learning platforms, not just aptitude tests.”

Cloud analytics will also predict which students need more help and then suggest measures to overcome challenges based on how they learn best.

In some cases, this is already happening. At Gwinnett County Public Schools in Georgia, the 14th largest U.S. school district is using big data and learning technologies in the classroom.

Buying local will beat online

5 in 5 Storymap: Buying Local Will Beat Online

Retail associates will become experts about every product in stores and place more emphasis on blending digital with the physical store shopping experience.

“As mobile devices supported by cloud computing enable individuals to share what makes them tick, their health or nutritional needs, virtual closets, social networks, retailers will soon be able to anticipate with incredible accuracy the products a shopper most wants and needs,” IBM's report read. “As a result, stores will transform into immersive destinations with experiences customized for each individual.”

Local stores will also be able to ramp up fast pickup or delivery options: "Two day shipping will feel like snail mail,” IBM added.

Doctors will use your DNA to keep you well

5 in 5 Storymap: Doctors Will Routinely Use Your DNA To Keep You Well

Treatment from doctors could be more specific and precise.

“In five years, advances in big data analytics and emerging cloud-based cognitive systems coupled with breakthroughs in genomic research and testing could help doctors to accurately diagnose cancer and create personalized cancer treatment plans for millions of patients around the world,” the IBM report said. “Smart machines will take the output of full genome sequencing and scour vast repositories of medical records and publications to learn and quickly provide specific and actionable insights on treatment options for oncologists.”

A digital guardian will protect you online

5 in 5 Storymap: A Digital Guardian Will Protect You Online

By learning about your behavior on various devices, security systems — or a digital guardian, according to IBM — will detect patterns that could lead to a cyberattack and intervene on your behalf.

“Each of us could be protected with our own digital guardian that will become trained to focus on the people and items it is entrusted with, offering a new level of identity theft protection," IBM's report continued. “Learning about users, a digital guardian can make inferences about what’s normal or reasonable activity and what’s not, acting as an advisor when they want it to.

The city will help you live there

5 in 5 Storymap: The City Will Help You Live In It

Mobile devices and social engagement will encourage citizens to build relationships with city leaders.

“Soon it will be possible for cities and their leaders to understand and digest new information freely provided by citizens, knowing which city resources are needed, where and when, so the city can dynamically optimize around the needs of the citizens,” the report read.

In Brazil, researchers are already using a crowdsourcing tool that allows users to report accessibility problems, while in Uganda, UNICEF has a social engagement tool that lets users communicate with their government and community leaders on various issues.

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Image: Flickr, MasonDan