The world is becoming ever more interconnected. By 2030, the number of connected devices will have risen to 1 trillion, up from 50 million in 2020. How can digital disruption help us build a better tomorrow?
As the cost of advanced technologies continues to fall, new applications will be launched, offering opportunities to combine these technologies in novel ways, and accelerating the pace and the scope of innovation. While the consumer will continue to benefit from the rise in technology, only the strong innovators will win. The digital age of the twenty-first century has already fundamentally altered our lives by bringing the internet and smartphones to the masses. The next decades will continue to see a technology-driven reshaping of society.
Automation and robotics
Robots of the past have achieved unprecedented levels of mass production by automating ex- tremely repetitive and labour-intensive steps along the production value chain. Robots of the future, however, are not just going to continue the trend of incremental efficiency gains. Rather, they are going to facilitate the production process in ways that were impossible before. We are currently witnessing the fourth revolution in manufacturing, the shift towards the so-called ‘Industry 4.0’. This revolution is largely driven by smart technology, which is based on intelligent and digitally networked systems.
Cloud computing and artificial intelligence
The cloud allows firms to rent technology infrastructure, and at ever lower prices the firms can exchange capital for operational expenditures. Cloud-based offerings allow firms to more quickly and easily scale up their operations, leading to both more agility and efficiency. Leveraged within the cloud, machine learning-based solutions are applied to Big Data, obtaining new insights and increasing automation of tasks in the services sector.
Privacy pioneer Willis Ware once wryly declared, “The only computer that’s completely secure is a computer that no one can use.” It is nearly impossible to imagine everyday modern life without computers. Having a good digital cybersecurity platform is more necessary than ever given the various changes in the cybersecurity threat landscape, particularly about heightened data exfiltration risks, a rise in digital financial theft, a higher reliance on cloud uptime and the higher frequency of distributed denial-of-service attacks. The cybersecurity segment will likely become even more relevant due to the growing sophistication of aggressors, more attack vectors due to the increased number of people working from home and the rise of the ‘internet of things,’ more regulatory incentivisation, and the compartmentalisation of technology due to a shift towards a more multipolar world.
Future of Finance
Financial technology, also referred to as FinTech, is reshaping the Future of Finance. It is widely thought of as a technology that either helps companies in financial services to operate or deliver their products and services or enables companies or individuals to better manage their financial affairs. Ageing IT systems and the gentle pace of innovation at slow-moving financials have given space for FinTech, which better targets younger mobile-first generations of consumers. Digital payments and DeFi (decentralised finance) technology are leading the financial industry towards a new cycle of innovation, potentially even a financial revolution.
Furthermore, with digital assets we are witnessing the emergence of a new asset class, often referred to as cryptos. The underlying blockchain technology provides a immense breadth of possible applications, such as hedging against hyperinflation and cost-cutting in remittance fees in emerging economies, or enabling the rise of a new decentralized financial system as well as the governance of decentralized autonomous organisations. Some cryptos were created as a potential successor to our current fractional reserve banking system. While experiencing excessive volatility, their rise in adoption over the years, as well as technological progress, could mean that more of our financial life might be crypto-enabled in the future.
Commerce is structurally shifting to the digital space. Across all markets, consumers are becoming ever more comfortable with online shopping, including on mobile devices. Worldwide, e-commerce is a structurally growing business. Goods and services bought online have become a USD 2.2 trillion market with an annual growth rate in the double digits. Besides overall commerce growth, there is a large structural shift of market share from brick-and-mortar stores towards e-commerce solutions. The related demise of physical retail should continue and might even accelerate in the future. The main drivers are the growth of the millennial consumer base, enhanced e-logistics, Big Data analytics, customer engagement and reducing return rates.
As the Roman poet, Juvenal arguably proclaimed: “Panem et circenses” – which in modern times can be translated as bread and games – is supposedly all that is needed to keep people happy. The colosseum of the present day now takes the form of a screen and people still crave to be entertained. Technological advancements have enabled consumption models for music, video, and video games that are becoming an ever more location agnostic and on-demand driven affair. Only firms that adapt to new formats and distribution channels will thrive. Just relying on established content libraries and an established business model is not enough.