The Big 5

This post won’t be about what you might see on an African safari. Instead, today I’m thinking about where we are now, and where we are going in relation to the full potential of five disruptive technologies that get the most attention: AI, IoT, Blockchain, AR/VR, & Big Data.

Each technology is still in their infancy but fast maturing and gathering steam. We saw with cryptocurrencies in 2018 as a key use case for Blockchain which drove significant consumer & business adoption & later, government intervention

As I look ahead, the most interesting thing for me two-fold: (i) the timeframe(s) for the intersection of these technologies from a market adoption and technology maturity perspective, and (ii) the subsequent implications for established firms, and opportunities for new ones. If we think back to the late 2000s (over a decade since consumer internet introduction), it wasn’t until the launch of next generation mobile phones (via smartphones, tablets) that dramatically accelerated internet adoption driven largely by e-commerce. This opened up entirely new ecosystems (Apple, Google, Facebook, Uber, Amazon) whilst destroying others (Nokia, Motorola, Sears) in the process. For B2B/C, this enabled a new lawyer of applications & services for consumers & businesses alike, such as local discovery (e.g. restaurants), on-demand services (e.g. taxis, TV), & mobile (e.g. Amazon, eBay, banking). All designed to make life easier & better.

In 2018, such continued technology disruption – driven by the intersection of mobility & the internet – is only getting started (think retail, financial services, real estate etc). If we layer on top one or more the Big 5 technologies, it will be like pouring kerosene over an already burning fire. I can’t wait to see how it all plays out.

The IoT Opportunity

Softbank recently predicated about 1 trillion connected devices by 2032. That’s up from about 30 billion today. The chart below shows the growth until 2025.

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It’s pretty impossible to easily grasp how big of a number that is. A better way is to look at what all those devices enable, what consumer and business benefits will it deliver, and how will life become easier, better, and so on. Here are some examples:

  • Smart Cities equipped with self-driving transport, smart energy management, intelligent security systems, and automated environmental monitoring.
  • Smart farming with the entry of monitored farming devices like sensors to determine soil moisture levels for enhanced irrigation systems.
  • Connected vehicles with remotely monitored engine diagnostics or infotainment systems.
  • Industrial safety, where natural disasters like floods are easily detected in high-risk areas to prevent damages to valuable assets.
  • Health sector where remote patient monitoring & associated self-services will transform the operating model with established healthcare providers across the entire ecosystem.
  • Livestock management, such as successfully impregnating cows by using a smart pedometer strapped to the leg to help figure out exactly when is the best time to inseminate the cow.
  • Consumer products such as mattresses, using IoT technology to help identify and offer the right kind of mattress to offer customers as per their body shape, sleep patterns, & movements during the night.
If you compare this with what happens today, the next 5-10 years will be fascinating. Even moreso if you think about the inevitable confluence of other emerging (and equally disruptive) technologies such as Blockchain, AI, AR/VR, & Big Data. It is anyone’s guess as to how these technologies will interconnect and enable each other, although with IoT growth, this means lots of data. Advanced data & analytics through AI, ML & Big Data will be critical here. More on that in another post.