7 Cross-Industry Technology Trends That Will Disrupt the World

Imagine a scenario where retailers combine sensors, computer vision, artificial intelligence, augmented reality and immersive and spatial computing to deliver immersive user experiences. Or automakers use sensors to capture vehicle signals, monitor the condition of each system in the car, and notify the owner to schedule repairs before a breakdown occurs.

These are already possible. Technological innovation is happening at an unprecedented pace, and there are seven trends which will, individually and in combination, have a seismic impact across industry sectors, according to recent research from McKinsey & Company. These trends have the potential to reshape current business models, enable new applications and services, and redefine how work is done.

The seven cross-industry technology trends are: process automation and virtualization; increased connectivity powered by 5G and Internet of Things; distributed infrastructure; next-generation computing; applied artificial intelligence; AI-developed software; and trust architecture.

Security leaders will need to understand the impact of these technologies in order to ensure the proper safeguards and protections are in place while unlocking the potential applications and benefits.

1. Next-level process automation

Around half of all existing work activities could be automated by 2025, McKinsey says. Next-level process automation and virtualization includes industrial Internet of things, collaborative robots, and robotic process automation (RPA). Process virtualization includes advanced simulations using digital twins and 3D/4D printing to change how products are developed. More than 50 billion devices will be connected to the Industrial Internet of Things by 2025, and 70 percent of manufacturers will be regularly using digital twins by 2022, McKinsey predicts.

2. Future of Connectivity

Faster connectivity — made possible by 5G networks and the booming Internet of Things — will enable faster connectivity across longer distances. There will be new services (such as remote patient monitoring), new business models (new ways of energy delivery), and next-generation customer experiences (such as virtual reality). Either high-band or low- to mid-band 5G is expected to reach up to 80% of the global population by 2030, McKinsey predicts.

Security leaders are already dealing with the challenges of protecting IoT and the expected boom in adoption will complicate things even further. Data protection will continue to be a significant security concern.

3. Distributed Infrastructure

Cloud and edge computing adoption will continue to grow, and by 2022, 70% of companies will be using hybrid-cloud and multi-cloud platforms as part of a distributed IT infrastructure, McKinsey says. By 2025, more than 75% of enterprise-generated data will be processed by edge or cloud computing. Software sourced by companies from cloud-service platforms, open repositories, and software-as-a-service providers will rise from 23% today to nearly 50% in 2025, McKinsey predicts.

“Wide availability of IT infrastructure and services through cloud computing will vaporize on-premise IT infrastructure and commoditize IT setup and maintenance,” McKinsey says. Companies could reduce complexity, save costs, and strengthen their cybersecurity defenses.

4. Next-generation computing

Next-generation computing is perhaps the most far-reaching, as is includes quantum computing and “neuromorphic” computing (which involves the development of application-specific integrated circuits). McKinsey predicts the value potential of quantum-computing use cases at full scale by 2035 would be greater than $1 trillion.

One of the things to keep in mind is that quantum computing will likely break the majority of modern cryptographic security algorithms, which will have significant impact on how organizations protect information. Organizations must safeguard trade secrets and other data during the shift from current to quantum cryptography, McKinsey says.

5. Applied Artificial Intelligence (AI)

While AI is still in early stages, companies are still searching for ways to use AI effectively. “While any company can get good value from AI if it’s applied effectively and in a repeatable way, less than one-quarter of respondents report significant bottom-line impact,” McKinsey says.

As AI matures and continues to scale, it will enable new applications by processing data to uncover detailed customer insights, automate repetitive tasks such as filing and document preparation, and support specialized services (such as allowing engineers to perform repairs remotely). AI can play a role in security defenses by training machines to recognize patterns, and then respond to the detected pattern accordingly.

6. Future of programming

McKinsey predicts “Software 2.0,” where neural networks and machine learning would be used to write code and create new software. There could be as much as 30 times reduction in the time required for software development and analytics, McKinsey estimates.

“Software 2.0” will help develop and apply complicated AI models, but it will also improve current software development by standardizing and automating mundane programming tasks. By providing a more iterative and intuitive way to customize existing code, it could potentially eliminate some common programming errors.

7. Trust architecture

The last trend — trust architecture such as the zero trust security model — “describes a set of technologies and approaches designed for a world of increasing cyberattacks,” McKinsey says. “The trust architecture provide structures for verifying the trustworthiness of devices as data flows across networks, APIs, and applications.”

As companies use zero-trust security measures to reduce the threat of data breaches, cyber-risk goes down. While zero trust could lower the operating and capital expenditures associated with cybersecurity in some cases, other areas will see cybersecurity spending increase dramatically.

Impacts Will Vary

McKinsey’s team noted that while technology trends affect all sectors, the amount of disruption and the technological impact would vary by industry. For example, while the shift to new trust architectures will be felt across all sectors, McKinsey analysis suggest pharmaceuticals, healthcare, information technology, and telecommunications will experience the most disruption. In comparison, changes in trust architecture will have only a limited impact in automotive and chemical industry sectors. Applied AI and next-level process automation will have the most widespread impact, as they will impact multiple industries.

McKinsey examined a range of factors, such as patent filings, publications, news mentions, online search trends, private-investment amount, and the number of companies making investments, to identify technology trends that matter the most to top executives and their organizations. Even though some of these trends do not represent the coolest or most bleeding-edge technologies, they are still attracting significant venture capital and are expected to have the biggest impact on the organization.

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