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9 Tech Innovations That Defined the 2010s A look back at the ten most impactful innovations of the 2010s.

By Tanner Simkins Edited by Dan Bova

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As we round into the fourth quarter of 2020, I wanted to reflect from a macro perspective on innovation since the new millennium 20+ years ago. I examined the most impactful tech innovations from 2010-2020. The 2010s saw transcendent advances across every segment of consumer technology, and we are primed to surmount even greater challenges over the next ten years. Here is a look back at the innovations that defined our world between 2010 and 2020.

1. High-definition (HD)

Many of us cannot remember what screens looked like before the primary viewing process went HD. This technology grew so rapidly and ubiquitously that anything non-HD seems old-fashioned. Today, over 90 percent of homes in the United States own at least one HD television and almost one-third have a 4K television. Innovations such as UltraHD and 8K are becoming the new standard, and consumer products using virtual reality (VR) are going mainstream.

Related: 10 Things You Didn't Realize Were Invented in the 2000s

2. Second screens

It's hard to imagine a world without tablets, phones, and the many other connected devices we carry around with us daily. Second screen technology is so widespread that we are constantly plugged in, one way or another, every hour of the day. With more than 33 billion total devices in use around the globe, that comes out to 4.3 smart devices per person! iPhone and Samsung are the champions here, with Apple really being the pioneer. Companies have utilized apps, for example, to benefit their products, communications, data and marketing efforts. App usage has also skyrocketed over the past ten years, with many businesses using them to improve communications with customers.

3. Content

The fact that content is king in the media world is nothing new, but who knew that media would encompass texting, podcasts, video, streaming, and every possible combination in between? Content, whether created in a studio or a living room, is powering everything from OTT to TikTok. As more Americans cut the cord with cable companies and use smart devices to connect with streaming services, companies like Amazon, Netflix and Hulu are competing head to head with and will ultimately be the permanent placement of major networks and traditional studios.

One positive outcome from the proliferation of digital media over the past ten years is the sheer volume of content being produced, which has pushed media companies to produce more socially responsible content. The fact that corporate social responsibility (CSR) is now a buzzword in this space means that more companies are feeling compelled to cover social impact and to give back.

4. Connectivity

Over the past decade, the speed and quality of WiFi, mobile data, Bluetooth, iOT and cloud services has meant businesses and consumers can accomplish more in a shorter period of time. When people and devices can share information and interact with such speed, it means more productivity, creativity and smarter decision making become the norm. Connectivity has powered almost every other innovation on this list.

Related: 10 Things You Didn't Realize Were Invented in the 1990s

5. Social media

Advances in the speed of telecommunications have been a boon to companies like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, with dozens of other players jumping on the bandwagon. The previous decade had shown that social media has changed the way we communicate, consume news, share life experiences, and express ourselves. While privacy concerns and hacking are still a deterrent for some people, the pull of social media has made it the most targeted way for advertisers to reach consumers.

6. Esports

Whether it is Division 1 intercollegiate sports, professional sports or fantasy football, eSports are continuing to grow beyond all expectations. Add the gradual legalization of sports gambling across the country and it will expand exponentially. Overall, the eSports economy exceeds $1 billion, with more than 500 million viewers. Esports clearly had to make this list as a tech innovation since it is a mega sport-based largely on technology that did not exist before the start of the 2010s,

7. Media rights

The past decade was defined by major negotiations over media rights as audiences opted for direct-to-consumer viewing over major network broadcasts. With media rights deals now reaching into the billions, a fierce competition has developed among new networks, digital rights, streaming rights, on-demand and traditional broadcasters. According to SportsBusiness Media, US sports rights alone have an estimated value of $22.42 billion as of 2019, which accounts for 44 percent of the global sports media market. The growth of media rights is not exclusive to sports properties, but with so much fragmentation in sports media consumption they are certainly on hyperspeed.

8. Paywalls

The 2010s saw the closing of many physical newspapers, with the media companies behind them opting instead for digital content on their website. Different revenue models emerged like premium content paywalls for example. A variety of revenue models exist for content providers, but most limit the number of free stories a device user can read before a subscription is required.

9. Data analytics

The explosion of digital content and smartphone apps has created a big data windfall for those who profit from buying and selling personal information. Marketers have learned how to use everything from credit card purchases to music downloads to add dimension to a consumer's digital footprint, which has made it easier for them to target messaging based on prior behavior. This same data can also be used to predict buying behavior, forecast trends, and recommend future purchases. Most people have grown accustomed to receiving highly targeted advertising across multiple devices.

A quick note on looking forward

My work with Complete SET Agency is focused on the frontiers of the sports and entertainment and their allied industries like tech and media so here are the areas I am going all-in on for the next ten years and longer. Artificial intelligence (AI) is already here but continued exponential growth means we will certainly see a next-level intelligence capability in smart devices. Robotics, virtual reality, 3D printing, and quantum computing are all in the mix and will be definite multipliers. The onus will be on us to monitor the usage and morality of such a technology; but as an industry the possibilities are boundless which means the money is there for the taking. It is going to be a fast ride, buckle up.

Tanner Simkins

Founder and CEO of Complete SET Agency

Simkins is founder and CEO of Complete SET Agency, a full-service sports entertainment firm that works with multinational brands, athlete entertainers and accredited investors. Simkins holds degrees from the University of Miami and Columbia University. 

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