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The Year of 5G, Autonomy, and the Edge
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This report looks at global trends set to make an impact in 2019. Every year Frost & Sullivan's Visionary Innovation Team of futurists, consultants, and analysts scans the short-term horizon and looks across industries to identify areas of disruption in the new year. This year, the power of technology and technology companies has emerged as a key theme across the identified trends, but topics range from political to environmental issues to increasing adoption of behavioral science principles. The top trends identified include:Technology IPO WindfallIf 2018 was a stellar year for tech IPOs, 2019 promises to be spectacular. Backed by valuations in the $100-billion category, unicorn start-ups like Uber, Airbnb, Pinterest, and Lyft are gearing up to launch IPOs. Other $1 billion+ companies to watch out for include Slack, Palantir, and Instacart. There’s also strong IPO buzz about three Chinese heavyweights: online brokerage company, Futu (which plans to hit the public market in the United States and China), the technology giant, Ant Financial Services Group, and ride-hailing firm, Didi Chuxing. Resurgence of Human-crewed Space FlightThe upcoming year will see the revival of crewed spaceflight as commercial market participants, such as Virgin Atlantic and Blue Origin have announced goals to fly paying passengers into space. In 2019, several big market participants are expected to execute crewed test flights into space. If successful, it is expected that NASA will grant them certifications, thus, moving the industry one step closer to space tourism.Insurance Incumbents Become Digital DisruptorsThis will be a standout year for insurance. Insurers will actively embrace new markets (smart cities, autonomous vehicles, connected living, and the elderly population); products (insurance for shared workspaces, working from home, automotive pay-per-mile, and cyber-protection); technologies (blockchain, virtual reality (VR)/augmented reality (AR) and AI); business models (prevention-as-a-service, usage-based insurance, and on-demand insurance); and operations (increased automation, shifts in core systems, and even personnel and culture shifts). The Expansion of B2B Data Monetization This year will mark a watershed where new, non-traditional industries begin to establish and develop their data monetization strategies. Following in the footsteps of the credit, marketing, and advertising industries where such practices are already widespread, car manufacturers, healthcare companies, IoT, and industrial aerospace IoT will push more aggressively towards data-driven business models.Environmental UrgencyA flurry of reports in 2018 highlighted the devastating impact of pollution and climate change events. Issues such as the destruction of wildlife and natural habitats, the rampant use of plastic, and climate-change-induced disasters including droughts, wildfires, floods, and tsunamis, spurring a sense of urgency in 2019 among governments, industries, and citizens who committed to changing course.Digital Marketplace for Services There will soon be digital marketplaces everywhere. The fourth generation of marketplace business models will be focused on the service sector. Three converging trends will drive their rapid expansion. Firstly, over 5 billion connected devices and nearly 230 billion app downloads expected in 2019 will lead to an increase in mobile-based marketplace models for services. There will also be a series of niche service marketplaces, such as adult and child healthcare, vehicle rental services or vehicle purchase aftermarket services, as a result of the focus on personalization and customization.Flexible Devices Unfold2019 will see the launch of foldable phones with flexible screens, replacing convertible or detachable devices. These devices are expected to be lightweight, unbreakable, and compact. First Wave of 5G-enabled Devices5G-enabled smartphones are on track to take over the mobile industry in 2019. Galaxy S10, OnePlus 7, and Huawei P30 are among the leading mobile phone developers that are vying to launch 5G-enabled mobile sets this year.5G will enable more hybrid and cloud applications ranging from machine learning to cloud-based graphics rendering for VR, AR, and gaming. With gigabit speeds, 5G will also eliminate the need for wires as the last mile of connectivity, even within homes and enterprises. Autonomous WorldAutomotive, industrial robotics, aerospace, and consumer appliance industries will ramp up their pursuit of autonomous technology in 2019. In the automotive sector, semi-autonomous and autonomous ride-hailing services are a strong likelihood with Volkswagen, General Motors, Uber, and Waymo planning to launch their own ride-hailing programs this year. Robots are set to become more commonplace in industrial workplaces. Accompanying these developments will be the urgent need to formulate new regulations governing the safe testing and deployment of autonomous technologies. The Future Is EdgeThe edge is where the future is at. Investments will increasingly migrate from the cloud to edge computing. Porsche, Softbank, and Berkshire have already focused heavily on edge computing start-ups. There will be significant application enablement as a result and further movement shifting storage and processing to the edge. In the meantime, a slew of industries—defense and healthcare, among them—will begin to leverage edge computing technologies.Author: Lauren Martin-Taylor
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