Future of the tech economy
Explore how tech trends and disruption create a new frame in the tech industry, influencing the global economy for the coming decade.
WHERE ARE WE NOW
pandemic and the resulting lockdowns came as a significant shock to companies and individuals. Maintaining business continuity, challenged firms that had to act quickly to ensure employees could work seamlessly from home to sustain operations.
The consumer impact was much milder, as people took the measures in stride by enhancing their digital engagement.
We live in exciting times. While a potentially transformative innovation used to be a once-in-a-century phenomenon, a stream of innovative technologies are in the pipeline.
Technological breakthroughs like quantum computing and fuel cells offer incredible potential to upend the global economy. Closer to the ground, areas like drones and 3D printing are already providing a glimpse into what the future holds.
This confluence of technology and economic forces defines the tech economy. We navigate through current and future digital trends and identify innovative technologies and investment opportunities.
TECH TRENDS - WHAT IS COMING
THE DECADE OF DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION
Digital transformation is a common phrase nowadays, but what does it mean for this decade and what will change in the way technology affects us and the economy.
While we can say that the last decade was defined by technology disruption, technology penetration in many industries remains low. So what now?
We believe that the technology adoption curve is just starting and that digital penetration is set to accelerate at a pace never seen before. Tech firms have dominated digital innovation, but now tech-enabled incumbents are striving to make up for lost ground and to gain control of their industries' future. They prioritize investments in key enabling technologies like mobile, cloud, big data, and social, as well as emerging ones like blockchain and AI. Together with tech firms, which will continue to push the envelope of what's possible, such forward-thinking incumbent companies should drive the future of digital transformation and accelerate the pace of disruption.
On the one hand, this momentum should put technology companies that fail to adapt to a significant risk of losing market share. On the other hand, it should fuel innovation and provide substantial growth opportunities for businesses and investors alike.
We think two dominant trends will propel digital transformation: rising internet penetration and exponential growth in data. We expect 2 billion additional internet users over the next decade, with the majority coming from emerging markets, and we think global internet penetration will increase in tandem. Data is the new driver, and in the decade ahead, we anticipate the global data universe will grow to be more than ten times as large as it is now, reaching more than 450 zettabytes within this decade.
Artificial Intelligence is already part of our daily lives, from Amazon Echo to Nest to the iPhone — but it’s about to reach new heights.
With algorithms that tell computers what functions to perform, AI enables machines to learn on their own and run our homes. They self-adjust thermostats, automatically order food supplies and can find out what music we want to hear based on our mood. AI is transforming the world around us — but nowhere more so than in business.
From healthcare to banking to insurance, AI is reshaping the industry, making companies more efficient while increasing profit. With AI, companies can instantly customize medical treatment for patients, or project income flows for banking clients, and process insurance claims for drivers. Algorithms combine mountains of data in seconds to present relevant information, potentially saving upwards of $150 billion a year in the healthcare industry alone. AI is spreading across all sectors. „Relevant“ information becomes more and more the core of every business decision allowing us to affect the way we engage and operate.
While AI conjures new concerns, from fears of job loss to increasing needs for online security, one surprising fact remains that AI will create more careers in the long run. According to tech research firm Gartner, starting in 2020, AI-related job creation will cross into positive territory, reaching two million net-new jobs in 2025. While industries like manufacturing will see losses, those cuts will be overshadowed by gains in other fields, including healthcare, education, and the public sector. Combined with robotic process automation — software to streamline routine business operations, like processing orders — AI will strengthen many existing jobs and create new types of careers, empowering employees to work to their fullest potential.
The changes that are happening now are dramatic and will shift business models affecting efficiency and market value. Technology is the driving force for growth right now. Ultimately, the key to growing the new economy will be in how we securely use AI to augment human ingenuity, not replace it.
HOW TO INVEST IN TECH ECONOMY
- Faster rates of change and growth come with higher rates of failure. Investors should diversify across trends and technologies, and can consider both mainstream and moonshot technologies. Choose disruptors, avoid laggards. Diversify among leaders in different fields.
- The fourth industrial revolution is just beginning, and yet it has already reshaped entire industries. Meanwhile, the COVID-19 pandemic is accelerating e-commerce and digital data penetration. Seek exposure to big platforms and key enabling technologies like mobile, cloud, big data, and social, as well as emerging ones like blockchain and AI.
- Everything is going digital, even money. This shift has significant ramifications for the global economy, from retirement ages to productivity.
- The world’s major regions have developed unique strengths in technology and labor. In the race to secure technological leadership, governments are looking to enhance their competitive advantages. Investors should diversify among regions to combine these diverse strengths in their portfolios.
- Promising new tech areas like AI, 3D printing, drones, and cybersecurity are in the midst of becoming mainstream. Even the big IT platforms will need to adapt in the decade ahead. Select leaders in each of these spaces. Attractive opportunities can be found among mid-cap and big platform companies alike.
- Sustainability is a key tenet of the tech economy, whether the focus is on education, agriculture, automation, or energy. Investors can support this trend through sustainable investing strategies, which aim to achieve a positive environmental or social impact while delivering market-rate returns.
THE NEXT BREAKTHROUGH TECH
Quantum computing has the potential to transform the high-end computing market, with consumers leveraging the technology through cloud-based business models. We anticipate multiple use cases for quantum computing across sectors like financials, healthcare, industrials, materials and energy.
Widely spoken of as the next step in human evolution, but we're not quite there yet. But with governments and companies investing heavily, and with significant progress being made in technologies like AI, we are hopeful that by end of this decade neural interfaces will become a mainstream technology.
Significant progress has been made in battery technology over the past few decades and companies are working hard to address challenges. Assuming most hurdles are cleared over the next 5–10 years, solid-state batteries could revolutionize the way electric vehicles, smartphones storage systems, and other consumer electronics are powered.
Although fuel cells have often been praised for their many advantages, predictions of major breakthroughs in their mass application have so far proven broadly premature. But we think that the search for sustainable sources of energy should give fuel cells a new lease on life.
THE NEW ENERGY TECH
Fuel cells provide electric energy just like a battery does. Essentially, fuel cells use some pretty clever chemistry and they are based on the idea that hydrogen and oxygen come together.
Although fuel cells have often been praised for their many advantages, predictions of major breakthroughs in their mass application have so far proven broadly premature. We know what you are thinking and yes, as in the case of battery technology, environmental considerations are an issue. Nonetheless, we have some thoughts on how technology might help. Hydrogen cells produce the cleanest gas emission—pure water. However, today’s substantial use of fossil fuels required to produce the hydrogen can offset the zero emission properties of the fuel cell itself. But if renewable energy is used, fuel cells can operate at virtually zero carbon emissions overall. For more on this, we invite you to download the full version of the report.
Thinking about the future, we expect fuel cell technology to become competitive the soonest in road vehicles due to their savings benefits. Did you know that in some instances batteries can take around 10 times longer to recharge (fuel cells can take two minutes)? Impressive, right? As exciting as this is, fuel cell electric vehicles are unlikely to become the first choice for residential vehicle use for many years. Our prediction is 2025, along with other substantial trends throughout a decade of transformation.