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TECHNOLOGY’S IMPACT ON INDUSTRY

New technologies are shaping the future of industry. The “internet of things” is already at the heart of many industries. Batteries have the potential to alter the global energy sector as we know it, and connected cars are disrupting auto manufacturers and telecoms operators alike. These and other global trends are already impacting economies and societies, and will continue to do so for the next few decades. BMI Research and Fitch Ratings have identified some of the most important new technologies impacting industry

E-commerce


The spread of e-commerce platforms across the world is transforming business models in industries such as retail, food and drink, automotive, electronics and telecommunications. BMI estimates that e-commerce spending in 2015 totaled $1.33trn, $1.54trn in 2017 and could rise to $2.36trn by 2020, an increase of 77 percent. Alibaba and Amazon continue to dominate the e-commerce space in China and the United States, respectively. However, BMI sees opportunities for niche start-ups to play a role in driving sectoral innovation. Going forward, developing an ‘omni-channel’ approach will become a make-or-break issue for e-commerce companies as they aim to control every aspect of the e-commerce value chain and it might not be too long before we see the first Amazon high-street stores. In emerging markets, mobile devices are the principal form of access to the internet requiring the use of e-commerce platforms developed exclusively for small screens. Last-mile infrastructure for telecoms and logistics is critical for future growth in the Middle East, Africa and other developing regions.

New building technologies


The construction and infrastructure industry has been relatively slow to adapt to the advent of disruptive technology, the internet of things, big data and other areas of Industry 4.0. However, says BMI, it is one of the sectors where companies stand to gain major benefits from the adoption of new technologies such as innovative building materials, 3D printing, robotics, modular construction, construction drones, smart sensors, dynamic toll road pricing and other technologies which can help boost efficiency, productivity and ultimately increase profitability from better project planning, development and operations. Key areas of focus include new building methods and materials such a modular construction and self-healing cement, which offer significant cost benefits when utilized, through to the role of sensors and big data in managing and optimizing usage of existing infrastructure assets.

Electric vehicles


There are some widely divergent views on the near term and long-term outlook for electric vehicles. In a new report, BMI looks among other matters at the outlook for EVs, PHEVs and conventional hybrids, battery innovation and the potential for cost reduction, the need to meet the growing demands for battery metals such as lithium and cobalt, the charging infrastructure needed to support EV growth, how the power industry is gearing up to meet new demand and greater battery penetration and the possible impact of EVs on demand for gasoline Although the report looks at these issues through a global perspective, BMI notes that outside of China, EVs will be predominantly focused on developed markets, where an existing infrastructure will better support proliferation.