The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the adoption of digital technologies in almost every industry. In fact, investments in digital transformation are expected to exceed $1.8 trillion by the end of 2022 and over $2.8 trillion by 2025.
Below are six areas of innovation that are already impacting, or likely to soon impact, how business is conducted and conducted in our increasingly digital world:
1. Cyber Security. As organizations deal with the risks and vulnerabilities of digital transformation, cybersecurity must continue to advance to keep pace with the ever-evolving and increasingly sophisticated methods of cybercrime. Artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and robotic process automation (RPA) can help detect malware and ransomware. For example, advanced algorithms contribute to tighter security, especially when combined with automation tools.
2. 5G wireless technology. 5G is a prerequisite for our continued digital transformation, with global 5G smartphone subscriptions projected to reach 1 billion in 2022 and over 3 billion by 2026. 5G enables 10x to 20x faster data speeds, significantly better device connectivity and a vastly improved user experience with little to no lag times. 5G is also essential to support the continued evolution of augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR), which are destined to fundamentally transform the way we work, live and play.
As an example of the value of 5G, manufacturing companies are using it to create “smarter” factories that use sensors, mobile robots, advanced automated tracking, and wirelessly connecting machines for increased productivity, accuracy, and cost-efficiency. As another example, in the logistics and transportation industry, containers, cars, cranes and ships can be seamlessly connected via 5G to provide better visibility throughout the shipping and delivery process. And in retail, smart screens and customers’ omnichannel shopping experience will be greatly enhanced by 5G.
3. Artificial Intelligence. AI is already a component of the aforementioned cybersecurity, but its presence is much broader and with equally profound implications for other areas of business, with the market expected to reach over $126 billion by 2025. At a high level, AI-based business tools allow organizations to forecast more accurately, which in turn helps improve operations, forecast sales and revenue more accurately, and spot market trends much faster.
4. Natural Language Processing. Focused on interactions between computers and human language, NLP is one of the most interesting and widely used AI technologies (think of virtual assistants Siri and Alexa as well-known examples). However, NLP is still formative, and as advances continue, companies will develop machines capable of connecting with people in ways that will disrupt multiple aspects of our business and personal lives in ways that many currently believe hold unimaginable.
5. Metaverse. The virtual world, in which people can work, play and interact with one another through immersive online experiences, will continue to grow in popularity and sophistication. AR/VR games and digital marketplaces, which include livestream shopping, virtual art galleries and digital real estate (the latter alone will exceed $500 million in 2021 and is expected to more than double to over $1 billion in 2022). continue to expand and integrate social networks in the coming years. Again, AI and ML technologies will help drive the Metaverse forward.
6.Web3. A sort of rebrand of blockchain technology, Web3 brings benefits to businesses and individuals, including full ownership of data, the ability to let users access their data across multiple apps, and full data encryption, which provides improved security and greater security enables transparency. Decentralized systems enabled by Web3 also benefit creators and artists who can use non-fungible tokens (NFTs) to market their products for fair revenue, shared ownership and autonomy. As the creator economy grows along with Web3, more people will be able to build and create.
As digital transformation continues to transform the way we do business, companies must constantly stay tuned to new technologies to learn what to adapt and when, as it makes the most sense for their organizational roadmap and vision.
Of these technologies, advanced cybersecurity solutions are already a “must have” to ensure complete protection of customer data. Other technologies such as 5G and AI/ML are also becoming more widely available and may soon join the category of innovations that companies need to integrate to be successful from a competitive and customer satisfaction perspective.
While the general hope is that the pandemic will one day be a thing of the past, the impact of the digital transformation it helped catalyze will surely remain with us and continue to inspire future forward momentum and innovation.