Roland Berger Trend Compendium 2050: Technology & Innovation

Roland Berger Trend Compendium 2050: Technology & Innovation

January 19, 2022

Trend 5 of our Trend Compendium 2050 revisits the value of innovation, frontier technologies and humans & machines

In Trend 5 of our Trend Compendium 2050 we investigate technology and innovation. Here, we look at the value of innovation, frontier technologies, and the relationship of humans and machines.

Man looking through a mechanical device

Value of Innovation: Innovation is the key to sustainable growth

Technology and innovation are deeply and mutually intertwined with economic growth and societal development. Enabling factors range from a country's level of investment in education to private and public R&D expenditure.

Best-in-class innovating nations predominantly stem from advanced economies: Their levels of R&D investment signal trust in future capabilities of leading-edge technologies – placing technology firmly at the heart of economic growth.

Empirical evidence shows that the increase in innovative strength is linked to an increase in per capita income, especially in developing and emerging countries, so prosperity is growing. It is therefore not surprising that these countries also make extensive investments in future technologies.

Technologies of the future: A whole bundle of new technologies will shape the time until 2050

The spectrum of future technologies is broad and ranges from new transport technologies to nanotechnology and the metaverse. New digital technologies can act as "enablers" for other technologies. Quantum computing, for example, can be an enabler for the application of new technologies in various sectors by providing almost unlimited computing power.

Blockchain technologies and their current and future applications will continue to greatly change processes and business models beyond the financial industry. Other cutting-edge technologies such as new communication technologies, the Internet of Things, intelligent robotics, Big Data and above all AI will also make the handling of data a key competence and the use of data a key market of the future. In the so-called metaverse, reality and the virtual world are merging.

Humans and machines: As machines become more intelligent, the relationship between humans and machines needs to be re-discussed

It is predicted that the capabilities of artificial intelligence will develop enormously. This will greatly affect our relationship with "smart" machines, such as robots, but also other devices. Our interactions will become more multi-faceted, but as the influence of machines on humans will also increase, the enthusiasm is also mixed with many concerns – from the impact on jobs to the transfer of decision-making to machines.

Labor markets are facing structural changes: Jobs that can be automated are being eliminated, while other areas of work are benefiting. In terms of decision-making by intelligent machines , fears among people can be reduced if they understand how AI arrives at its decisions. The "black box" must become transparent in order to build trust in AI.

How companies can take advantage of megatrends

Companies that are able to constantly produce new innovations have a sustainable competitive advantage. Companies should therefore strengthen their innovative power. This includes investments in R&D, the establishment of innovation networks and partnerships with suppliers, distributors and even competitors, as well as cooperations with science and start-ups.

To develop and deploy the right technologies of the future, companies need to be aware of trends and integrate them into their strategy. Above all, this includes anticipating which changes in customer behavior are to be expected and where their needs are heading. All of this requires the use of digital technologies, so a strong digital infrastructure is a prerequisite for being successful with future technologies.

A new technological landscape impacts workplaces and requires a corporate culture based on a solid value system. Companies must ask ethical and moral questions arising from the use of technologies such as AI and develop proposed solutions. In this context, transparency and openness in the discussion are the basic prerequisites for ensuring that new technologies are accepted and used.

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Roland Berger Trend Compendium 2050: Technology & Innovation

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In Trend 5 of our Trend Compendium 2050 we investigate technology and innovation.

Published January 2022. Available in
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