The huge potential of digital innovation across a range of new technologies is undeniable – as is the central role of entrepreneurs, innovators and the investors supporting them, in exploiting these opportunities.
Enabled by the digital economy, the start-ups proliferating globally will account for more than 60% of GDP (US $90+ trillion, 2018 $87.5 trillion) within a few years. The US $50,000 start-up funding which was needed in 2010 is under $5,000 today. Underpinning all of this innovation is the Unlimited generation, the nearly 2 billion young people aged between 10 and 24.
Innovation is the biggest enabler for global equity, represented by ‘A Triple C’ or hyper Automation; time Compression in new innovations; Convergence in biological and digital existences; and ubiquitous Connectivity
This means a tremendous opportunity for sustainable investment with high returns, as well as accelerating and realizing the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Investment trends for technology adoption and skills
There are technologies to explore due to their high adoption rates. Moreover, there are job and skill trends to plan for when making investments.
To gain insight, it’s good to examine a number of job and technology trend reports released in 2018 with interesting findings, including those of Deloitte, ITU, OECD, PwC, , and more. One of particular interest is the World Economic Forum (WEF) Jobs Report 2018. Its highlights cover 2018-22, spanning 12 industries, and forecast a 58 million net gain in employment.
Job roles that are stable or new include organisational development specialists, innovation professionals, user experience and human-machine interaction designers, people and culture specialists, data analysts/scientists/AI and machine learning specialists. Redundant roles are forecast to include lawyers, bank tellers, accountants, insurance clerks, and financial analysts.
Trending skills will be in analytical thinking and innovation, creativity/originality/initiative, emotional intelligence and reasoning/problem-solving/ideation; whilst skills in manual dexterity/endurance/precision, management of financial and material resources, and memory/verbal/auditory/spatial abilities will decline
The in-demand job roles and skills very much align with successful entrepreneurship.
This brings into focus the areas of technology adoption in the near term – areas of concentration for entrepreneurs.
WEF give examples of technology adoption in the financial services sector including app-web markets, big data, machine learning, blockchain, IoT, cloud, AR/VR, wearable tech, quantum computing and robots, humanoid, non-human and stationary. What is noteworthy is the high adoption of blockchain at 73%, quantum computing at 43%, and humanoid robots at 35%. The list is similar in the global health and healthcare sector, focusing on big data 87%, biotech 87%, app-web markets 80%, machine learning 80%, cloud 73%, wearable tech 73%, blockchain 67%, IoT 67%, AR/VR 67%, new materials 60% and 3D printing 53%.
As a backdrop, the financial services industry is more than US $130 trillion (according to CBInsights) and the healthcare sector is nearly US $9 trillion (according to Deloitte).
AI an important area for investment
It’s clear that AI and blockchain are having significant impact. Since AI can produce nearly US $16 trillion in wealth creation by 2030 (according to PwC), a number of initiatives are underway to guide the safe and accelerated adoption such as AI Pioneers, the WHO/ITU Focus Group AI for Health, and the UN ITU ACM XPRIZE AI for Good Global Summit, which I have outlined in articles for Forbes “$9T Global healthcare strengthened by ITU Focus Group AI for Health” (FG-AI4H) and IDG-IT World “Three global initiatives accelerating the face of AI”.
There is also increased interest in Artificial General Intelligence or AGI, which is more human-like. Mind.ai, with its inductive, abductive, deductive reasoning capabilities, is a prime example.
Telecom World Global SME Awards are the hub for innovation, entrepreneurship, investment
The next four years provide an extraordinary opening to engage with and support global innovation. One of the finest ways to get involved and participate is with the UN ITU Telecom World Global SME Awards. The success stories are compelling, representing the best in the Unlimited revolution in start-up investments. I recommend entrepreneurs globally to engage in the Global SME Awards – including investors who are looking to gain high returns on investments plus actionable SDG impact.