As a technology researcher, I’m often asked if tech growth has peaked, or if there is more to come. After spending lots of time thinking about this question, I’ve decided that the tech industry is in for a sea change, leading to a potential tripling of demand for tech-related goods and services over the next decade.
Here are my seven reasons to be bullish about technology’s future, broken down by category.
A major move to build out broadband wireless networks will provide the underlying infrastructure critical for innovation in communications, the Internet of Things (which will connect lots of formerly “dumb” electronics, like air conditioners and coffee makers) and self-driving automobiles.
Most importantly, wireless carriers like Verizon and AT&T will deploy so-called “5G” next-generation mobile broadband networks over the next five to ten years. Meanwhile, “mesh networks” that connect nearby devices to one another in local grids will allow for a new wave of wireless innovation in densely packed cities and other communities.
Internet of Things
With faster and higher-bandwidth wireless networks in place, the Internet of Things, embryonic today, will become a much bigger part of our everyday lives. In a recent report, Business Insider claimed that $6 trillion will be invested in the Internet of Things over the next five years and that there will be 24 billion IoT devices installed worldwide by 2020.
Smarter cities, smarter cars
We’re already seeing moves by technology companies, city officials and other groups to put sensors and wireless cameras in light poles, embedded in street pavement, placed outside buildings, and so on. These will be important tools for urban planning and city management. They will also be crucial for the coming wave of self-driving vehicles.
Over the next decade, the automotive industry will transition to various forms of self-driving vehicles. Cities around the world will be putting sensors and cameras all around their communities that will “talk” to these automobiles to enhance their navigation and crash avoidance technologies within city limits. These infrastructure build-outs, however, will take time, cost lots of money and demand the help of lots of engineers and other professionals.
The fourth growth area will be in data — data centers, data analysts, and data engineers. Right now, almost every company is in need of more staff to deal with these disciplines, especially data analysis. The world’s biggest companies are collecting terabytes or petabytes of data of all types every day that needs to be searched, analyzed and used to enhance their ability to create products and services for their customers.
Unfortunately, I predict we’ll see huge growth in the area of security technology and a high demand for security experts. It’s an area that can only grow as independent hackers and foreign actors target companies across industries, looking to steal identities, siphon corporate secrets or influence elections.
Virtual and Augmented Reality
We’re about to see big advancements in both of these related, yet different, fields. I have no doubt that VR and AR will revolutionize the computing experience and offer new ways to interact with technology as well as with one another. These technologies are in their early stages, but they will bring new jobs and new levels of innovation to the computing experience over the next decade.
The digitization of health information will open new markets for health-related devices, from fitness trackers for consumers to hospital-grade tech. At every level of the healthcare system, digital technology will become more important for making diagnoses, managing patient records, preventing disease and so on.
As one who has tracked the tech market for the last 35 years and seen its tremendous growth along with its bleaker periods, I think we’re about to see a major boom period. Clearly, Apple, Facebook, Google, Intel, Qualcomm, the telecoms and many others have a glimpse of this vision, and they’re just getting ready for a new era in which technology will have a tremendous impact on our lives.