The world as we know it will change profoundly over the next ten years. With a projected global population of over 8.4 billion by 2028, businesses across all industries are investing billions of dollars in technology and innovation in order to be successful in a future where everyone is connected and information is instant.
By 2025, it is estimated that nearly 8 billion people will be “hyper-connected” (instant access to information) through telecommunication and the internet, a huge increase over the current 3 billion.
With countries imposing bans on fossil fuels, the continued looming threat of cyber-attacks, and many professions being forever reshaped due to improvements in technology; change is inevitable. Our society is advancing faster than ever before, and businesses across the globe are implementing strategies today to fulfill the needs of the future.
As the population swells, the agriculture industry is making strides in technology and innovation to meet the growing demand. Agricultural robots and automation are becoming more commonplace, and the predicted marketplace for these systems is estimated to be worth $45 billion by 2038. Systems such as tractor guidance and auto steering are being implemented at an accelerated rate and agriculture operators are seeing marked improvement in efficiencies and overall yield as a result.
As the industry continues to innovate, the net benefit of integrating automated systems into agricultural operations will outweigh the resources required to incorporate them. According to IDTechEx, estimates suggest that roughly 700,000 tractors and other various agriculture vehicles
will be sold in 2028 with such automation systems. With the rise of automated fleet vehicles within the industry, larger farming and agriculture operations will be possible with either the same or reduced manual labor.
In addition to self-driving/automated vehicles, more dexterous and flexible robotics will be implemented to complete tasks that were previously too complex or sensitive for machines to undertake. Robotic systems that can effectively gather fresh fruit and other delicate crops without damage or loss of yield are expected to make their debut by 2028. The ability to develop systems that can accomplish these intricate tasks will be made possible by improvements in camera/vision technology, computing power, GPS technology, and artificial intelligence. Systems that can easily identify spoiled or damaged product and act accordingly will begin to take center stage over traditional picking and sorting methods.
Much like the agriculture industry, manufacturers will be faster and more efficient than ever before. Automation will be the primary focus for the industry, as robotics will be refined and elegant enough to perform tasks in conjunction with, or in lieu of, a human counterpart.
In the past, jobs conducted by robots were strictly segregated due to the dangers they posed to inattentive factory workers. By 2028, collaborative robots (or “Cobots”), designed to fluidly work side-by-side with human workers, will see wide adoption; projects like SecondHands are helping make such robots a reality. Other man/machine combinations will become mainstream, like Zume Pizza’s innovative automated pizza-making and delivery systems, which will help manufacturers and food processors find new ways to get their products quickly into the hands of their customers.
Innovations like Robotics as a Service (RaaS) are currently making waves due to their ability to keep costs manageable by making otherwise cost-prohibitive machinery available for rent. Manufacturers and food processors are seeing positive results from such services, and predictions indicate that by 2020, 30 percent of robots will be put into service based on the RaaS business model.
Oil & Gas
The price of crude oil is projected to hold steady or rise, despite alternative fuel sourcing growing in popularity. By 2030, the World Bank anticipates that all three major benchmark oil prices (WTI, Dubai, and Brent) will reach and equilibrate at $70 per barrel.
While the world will still be heavily reliant on oil & gas for its energy needs in the year 2028, overall usage and demand will look very different than it does today. With the cost of solar panels and price of capturing solar energy drastically dropping, solar power technology will be at a price point that allows for massive adoption by residential consumers, and most commercial buildings will have some form of solar power configuration implemented.
Predictions suggest that in 2025, U.S. sales of electric vehicles will reach nearly 3.5 million. The demand for electric vehicles will be driven by individual consumers, with corporations upgrading fleet vehicles as needed to electric. However, even with the growing shift to electric vehicles, over 97% of vehicles on the road in 2035 will still be powered, to some degree, by gasoline or diesel, thanks to continued improvements in fuel efficiency.
Technology is the lifeblood of industry, and innovation is the life-blood of technology. Technological advancements will be the catalyst for the success of emerging and existing industries, and could be the potential battlefield where our next major conflicts could take place.
While information is available at our fingertips and we as a society are more connected than ever before, by 2025 it is estimated that nearly 8 billion people will be “hyper-connected” (instant access to information) through telecommunication and the internet, a huge increase over the current 3 billion. Companies like Facebook, Google, Qualcomm, and even SpaceX are developing or plan on developing systems that allow for the connectivity of the entire population at speeds exceeding one megabit per second.
Advancements in virtual reality and augmented reality will continue to impress, as billions of dollars are invested in platforms like Facebook’s Oculus Rift, HTC’s Vive, Microsoft’s HoloLens, and many others still in development. VR and AR experiences will be mainstream by 2028, even being integrated into eyewear that will completely change the way we interact with each other and businesses. Screens will no longer be as obvious as they are today: they will be everywhere, taking the form of either projections or flexible displays that can easily be manipulated by the user. Our interaction with the world around us will drastically change as industries like retail, real estate, travel, entertainment, and cuisine will be clamoring for our attention through this new medium.
Importance of Innovation
Innovation is contagious. If a breakthrough is made in one industry, it can have a “domino effect,” providing new technology or processes that allow for the transformation of another industry. You need only to look at the dramatic shift in how we communicate, thanks in large part to the sweeping public adoption of smartphones nearly a decade ago, and the impact it has had on multiple industries. Businesses that specialized in web development, entertainment and gaming found new and personal ways to engage their audience through mobile friendly websites, specialized applications, and developing exciting and addictive portable games. Without the smartphone, we would not have Silicon Valley juggernauts Twitter, Uber or Snapchat.
As I mentioned in a previous article, ensuring continued innovation isn’t always easy and begins with educating and encouraging the next generation. The perception of the U.S. education system is one of mediocrity, and there is a severe lack of funding for STEM-related programs. For a future like the one mentioned previously to come to fruition, we as a country need to do a much better job now promoting and funding STEM education and technical careers for the next generation of professionals.
Whether you are fearful, skeptical, or (like me) very excited about the next decade, we can all agree that the world will be a very different place in 2028. And like many others – I can’t wait to see it.