We asked our Trends for 2019 contributors to think about what trends may come up in the next ten years – from main street businesses to university research and everything in between. Take a peek at some of the responses below, and view the full cover story in the Business Record on Jan. 4.

Jayne Armstrong, district director, Iowa District Office, U.S. Small Business Administration
Iowa will be more focused on niche agricultural markets, including value-added and specialty food production, in addition to commodity products. This demand will drive the development of more kitchen incubators and small business start-ups across rural Iowa, while exploring other state models of excellence in this area.

Rachel Binning, Corteva Agriscience
Farms will become more fully automated as farmers have to drive individual productivity on a finite resource base; inputs will be applied precisely and only as needed and we will monitor it all from our smartphones. But this does not mean the end for rural communities. They will be reinvented as technology hubs necessary to keep these farms running, attracting high tech talent to rural Iowa. Farmers will be the next hipsters.

David Courard-Hauri, professor of environmental science and sustainability, Drake University
“Lighting fixtures” will be limited to warehouses and box stores.

Kevin Foley, executive director and general manager, Des Moines International Airport
Unmanned (no pilot on board) commercial air service? We have the technology today, military pilots fly drones thousands of miles apart from where they are being controlled. And, similar to other industries, there is a shortage of replacement pilots as the baby boomers retire. The problem is exacerbated when coupled with the ever-increasing demand for air travel. Watch for single pilot operations, with a second pilot on the ground monitoring several flights in case of an emergency, to come about first. The next logical step is unmanned service.

Kent Henning, president, Grand View University
The most celebrated athletes on campus may be gamers who compete in online video games. Esports is the fastest-growing collegiate extracurricular activity. Employers who see the “gamification” of a number of functions (e.g., corporate training, sales management, strategy development) value the skills being developed in game design programs and participation in esports. 

Karl Keeler, CEO, Mercy Medical Center-Des Moines
Artificial intelligence (AI) is a game-changer in health care. AI is fueling the rapid development of technologies for diagnostics, as well as care platforms. Enhanced surgical robotics are assisting surgeons in providing more breakthroughs and less invasive procedures. AI is also boosting access to precision medicine. With coordinated diagnostic results, patient information and research data — physicians are developing tailored care plans that will work best with a patient’s unique genetics. Significant impacts in oncology, pharmacology and undiagnosed and infectious disease care are being seen. Patient location will be less of a factor and improved efficiencies will control costs.

Sean Kennedy, president and CEO, IMT Insurance
There will be no Uber as it operates today. If you wish to get from one place to another you will get on a smart app and summon a driverless vehicle.

Kent Kramer, CIO, Foster Group 
In the future, instead of buying and selling stocks, bonds, and mutual funds through custodians and brokers like Schwab or Merrill Lynch, investors will connect directly to other investors and mutual fund companies, via blockchain technology, eliminating an entire level of intermediary costs.

John Matovina, CEO, American Equity
As the trend of servicing financial and insurance transactions online grows, companies will look to the emerging technology of artificial intelligence and virtual assistants (i.e. Alexa, Siri) to improve customer service functions. Advances in this space could allow for a more personal touch to what was once a “cold” online transaction. For instance, as a consumer opens the insurance or annuity contract that they received via e-mail, a virtual assistant would be able to walk through the contract, address specific questions, and give a firm “handshake” at the end.