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Contemplating Technological Evolution

“The only thing that is constant is change” - Heraclitus

By: EBR - Posted: Thursday, October 21, 2021

"Today’s democratization and affordability of cloud computing and storage are fueling the rate at which companies can start, scale, and operate effectively."
"Today’s democratization and affordability of cloud computing and storage are fueling the rate at which companies can start, scale, and operate effectively."

by Nicolas Abdelhak, Mohamed Ramzi and John Charalambakis

What is that common theme in Mozart’s Don Giovanni and in Goethe’s Faust? In our interpretation, the underlying theme that the audience of Don Giovanni and the readers of Faust’s story are called to recognize is that a new world is being born. Neither character is ever satisfied. Nowadays, change is accelerating at a remarkable pace, and the strive for something more and something better comes with a cascade of changes that change the way we live and work. And one of its key drivers is the faster rates of adoption of new technologies for both corporations and consumers alike. To put it into perspective, electricity needed 46 years to achieve mass market adoption, radio 31, the PC needed about 16, and the web took about 7 years. It took Facebook less than 3 years—despite the fact that it was initially a closed community for university students.

As we will consider a selection of emerging technology themes to monitor over the coming five years, it is important to understand why we believe these themes should be considered in portfolios today. The rapid and extraordinary advancement in technology will continue to be supported by new and disruptive solutions, a growing exponential network effect, a faster pace of user adoption, a growing capacity to store information, and rising technology affordability.

Below are the trends we believe will continue to revolutionize tomorrow’s world:

1.Cloud computing

Today’s democratization and affordability of cloud computing and storage are fueling the rate at which companies can start, scale, and operate effectively. The adoption and utilization of cloud technology are rapidly changing the landscape of corporate IT and corporate competition across industries.

The argument is simple: let Microsoft, Amazon, and Google handle the storage, build and maintain the servers, and manage the networking capabilities, while software makers and platforms can concentrate on their comparative advantages: designing excellent software and applications for their users. This is true to a considerable extent, although companies like Oracle are also looking to carve out their own niche within the space.

2.Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning

As the speed of data generation grows and greater computing power is democratized, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning will continue to scale and have extraordinary effects on how we live, work, and play.

Expert estimates outline the feasibility that the AI market will grow to a $190 billion industry by 2025, enabling new applications in hundreds of data heavy industries, eliminating some labor needs, and supporting industries to efficiently discover patterns, reveal anomalies, make predictions and decisions, and generate insights.

3.Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity is becoming even more relevant today as we increase our corporate and personal reliance on networks, connected devices, and systems.

As everyone pursues and accelerates their digitalization journey by migrating, storing, and exponentially consuming more data, and by adding more devices to their networks, the need to enhance protections around critical infrastructure and data is transforming into a necessity. Cybersecurity will also have a broader scope as a result of increased adoption of Internet-of-Things (IoT), as your home appliances and a wider range of devices hook up to the cloud, and a new set of challenges emerges as quantum computing gains wider traction and reach.

4.Digital Health

Traditionally, healthcare has always been a defensive, slowly adjusting industry, but following the acceleration driven by the pandemic, innovation in the sector has become a necessity. Digitalizing healthcare does not aim to replace in-person care, it is designed to enable improved access to better care and provide more effective, accessible, and consumer-friendly service, especially for preventable care. We are quickly approaching the point where virtual channels will be the primary platforms for patients to turn to for their healthcare needs.

Technologies like telemedicine and more efficient patient management systems are quickly advancing, as more money is flowing into the space, helping to further accelerate innovation. Long-term tailwinds will continue to strengthen as consumers are increasingly being empowered and placed in control of healthcare decisions. Companies like Apple and Google, as well as more specialized providers like Dexcom (diabetes) and Kardia (cardio), are changing the way diagnoses and treatments are approached.

5.Fintech

The fintech industry is experiencing exponential growth and will continue to see significant change. There is much to expect from the sector including the introduction of micro-services that will provide the flexibility to adapt to the competitive environment, the evolution of the regulatory environment and robo-advisors, as well as the integration of artificial intelligence and machine learnings systems.The rapid adoption and growth of fintech applications and software is proof of this accelerating trend.

6.The Internet-of-Things and wearable tech

Wearables have been on the rise for the past five years as connected devices, such as smart watches, smart TVs, smart speakers, cars, and other devices, are connected and exchange data over the Internet. It is expected that by 2030 the amount of connected IoT devices will exceed 50 billion, creating a massive web of interconnected hardware. Wearables are even evolving from simple earphones to include medical care and health applications.

Businesses are also expected to benefit immensely from interconnected devices enabling better safety, increasing output efficiency and decision-making processes as data is collected and analyzed. This technology will enhance predictive maintenance, speed up medical care, and improve customer service. Global spending on IoT systems and devices is forecasted to exceed $1 trillion by 2022, driven by 5G technology, which will empower market growth in the coming years.

7.Esports

Over the past few years, the esports industry has been a flourishing part of the tech and entertainment space. The rise of esports viewing coverage has already demonstrated an impressive pull as spectator entertainment content and gaming hours have grown well ahead of the rest of the industry - and it has a huge runway ahead for further growth.

The industry has seen a huge uptick in investment flow from venture capital and private equity firms. The number of investments in esports doubled in 2021 as industry revenue is expected to exceed $2.5 billion by 2022. These investments are distributed to players across the entire ecosystem from esports organizations to tournament operators, to digital broadcasters allowing it to evolve and expand. With continuous innovation and growth, the possibilities for esports are endless. There is no doubt that local lockdowns across the world increased the awareness of esports, but considerable year-on-year growth was already happening.

8.Robotic Process Automation

Automation is one of the key trends that will transform the industrial and manufacturing sectors. Nowadays, companies are operating with fewer resources, a limited number of personnel, and slimmer budgets. It will be essential for businesses to automate as many processes as possible.

Robotic process automation mechanizes repetitive tasks which people used to do. Enterprise operations will be migrated to a single software solution as corporations will look to streamline their tech stacks, and consolidate their platforms, software, and enterprise tools.

Companies will increasingly use software to automate business processes such as interpreting applications, processing transactions, dealing with data, and even replying to emails.

9.Carbon Capturing & Net Zero Target

Climate change is a fact of life and carbon-neutral policies are upon us. Electrical cars – and their implications for batteries and the materials needed for those batteries – could dominate our streets by 2030. Hybrid vessels are on their way. The carbon trading market is estimated to be around $22 trillion by the Net Zero target date of 2050. Carbon capturing technologies will play a significant role in that market.

10.The electrification of energy

As Robert Bryce discusses in his book A Question of Power, the fates of people and nations will be shaped by the future of electricity and its role in meeting the rapid demand for power and energy. The transition to green energy, the development of technologies, and the means to store and transport energy will empower the more than three billion people whose “per-capita electricity use is less than what’s used by an average American refrigerator.”

A 2020 study by McKinsey argued that “COVID-19 has pushed companies over the technology tipping point—and transformed business forever”, speeding up “digital adoption by several years.” The drawn-out resumption of business’ plans to return to offices, and the normalization of hybrid work brought about by second, third, fourth, and even fifth waves in 2021—as Beta, Gamma, Delta and Lambda variants have emerged—may yet accelerate adoption by several more.

Both characters in Don Giovanni and Faust experience a lust for destruction that some analysts call creative. But isn’t that what the evolution of technologies produces? Creative Destruction.

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