Sharpening a technology edge – Part 1

Sharpening a technology edge – Part 1

Part 1

It has been over two years since the pandemic created an unparalleled turbulence in our lives. Just when things were about to normalise, the world was engulfedin a geopolitical turmoil that once again unleashed a tidal wave of uncertainty. We are now witnessing a confluence of hugely disruptive headwinds across the political, economic, social, business, and technological landscape.A year ago, Big Tech was leading the stock indices with their earnings; today it is Big Oil. The pendulum is swinging wildly.

Businesses are impacted as energy costs soar, inflation erodes buying power of consumers, supply chains are redrawn reversing globalisation,economic costs of climate change mount, food insecurity threatens large swathes of the population, and techno-nationalism fracture the world into blocs that are at conflict with each other. Global growth is forecast to slow down from 6.0% in 2021 to 3.2% in 2022, and 2.7% in 2023. This is the weakest growth profile since 2001 except for the global financial crisis and the acute phase of the COVID-19 pandemic. The fallout from these trends will last for years to come. It’s in this context we must look at emerging technologies to leverage those to navigate uncertainties.

Post-COVID challenges

Organisations had accelerated their digital transformation during the pandemic – they are now having to grapple with new challenges. Every crisis brings in its wake a surge of new technologies. 5G will be a force for enterprises to usher in large-scale application of Internet of Things in manufacturing, to optimise costs and automate processes. Incredible advances in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) will unlock new economic value as organisations adopt data-driven decision processes – therebyminimising risks.

Artificial Intelligence the new electricity

While the commonly held view is that insights are the key benefit of AI, the real worth of AI is that it creates value by improving the quality of decisions. The good news is, opportunities to do that in business are countless. But because decisions in one area of an organisation usually have an impact on decisions in other areas, introducing AI often entails redesigning whole systems. In that way, AI is similar to ground-breaking technologies of the past, like electricity, which initially was used only narrowly but ultimately transformed manufacturing.

Decisions involve a combination of prediction and judgment, and because AI makes highly accurate predictions, it will shift decision rights to where judgment is still needed, potentially changing who makes decisions and where, when, and how. Moreaccurate predictions in one part of a value chain will also have ripple effects on other parts.

Clean-Tech a business imperative

As ESG (environment-society-governance) becomes a business imperative and also a strategy to adopt energy saving technologies, Clean-Tech will find greater acceptance and investments in it will become essential to improve efficiencies. This will also send out encouragingsignals to customers and Gen Z stakeholders, including employees and customers, for whom this has become an important measure to evaluate companies.

According to the IEA (International Energy Agency), record-setting green energy spending is helping global energy investment grow by 8% in 2022, reaching US$2.4 trillion (the anticipated increase is primarily due to clean energy investments). Renewable energy has become increasingly cost competitive with fossil fuels. There is also a vast economic engine behind sustaining the use of fossil fuels, despite the science supporting their contributions to global warming. At the same time, we find countries moving towards large-scale adoption of electric vehicles in the next 10 years.

5G is not just any G

ABI Research has found that 5G deployments in manufacturing, logistics, transportation, and consumer verticals can increase energy efficiency and reduce carbondioxide (CO2) emissions by 20 gigatons by 2030. In manufacturing, for example, a single smart factory using 5G for predictive, preventive, and remote maintenance, in combination with the deployment of Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs), can expect to save approximately 103 tons of CO2 emissions by 2030. 5G is likely to benefit the Indian economy by US$455 billion between 2023 and 2040, per a GSMA report. The benefit of 5G technology is expected to be realised in the manufacturing sector (representing 20% of the total benefit), retail (12%) and agriculture (11%).

5G connectivity can mitigate the very same supply chain problems that enterprises are facing now, particularly because a proper integration of public and private cellular network infrastructure and roaming agreements can give enterprises access to nearly global connectivity. By combining these capabilities with large-scale adoption of AI and ML technologies, enterprises will be able to detect supply chain anomalies and disruptions in order to adjust workflows as early as possible.

Advancements of satellite technologies have created exciting new opportunities in locating, tracking, and monitoring of supply chains. Private satellites will play an important role in future communication technologies as they take connectivity to hitherto inaccessible areas. This will create new, more inclusive opportunities and go a long way in reducing economic inequalities. Remote healthcare will not only create new business opportunities, but also help taking the benefits of modern healthcare to those who need it the most.

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