The Roaring Twenties of nearly 100 years ago was defined by a surge of consumerism, a brightly revitalised global economy and the arrival of the concept of mass culture. It was also a time of significant political and social change — an undercurrent that charged conversations and technological innovation. Today, the world awaits the 2020s, with eager anticipation and much excitement, as a decade likely to be defined as much by further leaps in technological innovation as by its socially influenced political and economic upheavals. The resultant landscape will inevitably require a much more comprehensive level of understanding to effectively capture the growth opportunities.
“There are seven major themes that will drive global growth over the next decade,” says Jonathan Sieff, Senior Portfolio Manager at Sasfin Wealth. “These will change the way we live, the way we travel, how we engage and collaborate, and how we work. Each of these themes should form part of any forward-thinking investment portfolio to ensure it is capable of benefiting from these specific market forces.”
The cost of medical solutions has reduced exponentially over the years – the complex process of mapping the human genome cost over US$ 1bn when it first emerged, but by the mid 2020’s it will be mapped for less than a few hundred dollars. This has huge ramifications for preventative medicine as doctors can use genome mapping to assess cell mutations and invest in preventative care that could mitigate the health impacts of obesity, cancer and so much more. This will be complemented by further advancements in robotic surgery, preventative diagnostic equipment, improved education and medical intervention techniques.
This involves combining materials like lithium and cobalt with metalloids, such as silicon, or innovative organic compounds to produce the batteries of the future — “new technologies required to drive the concept of e-mobility forward,” says Sieff. “The next decade will see significant refinements to connected vehicles and mobility solutions that will fundamentally change the way we travel, such as autonomous vehicles that bypass fossil fuels entirely.”
This buzzword, and its enabler, 5G involves digitally animating the physical world using a vast array of devices, with 5G enhancing the speed and reliability of connections across the globe. For now, 5G penetration is still relatively low globally. For example, the concept of the smart home has yet to entrench itself as a modern living standard. Only 3% of homes in the United States are smart homes, with seamless communication between devices to enhance quality of life. The next few years should see this concept become increasingly accepted and entrenched as the costs of internet access, mobility and technology reduce further.
Robotics and Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Robotics and AI will continue to have a huge impact on the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR). “Technology and cost efficiencies will redefine consumer robotics and improve quality of living by automating a number of previously menial human functions, according to Sieff. AI-assisted diagnostics will be able to provide personalised care and improved treatment outcomes, and by considering all available evidence, deliver predictive analytics to detect hidden factors and reduce side effects through personalised drugs.
Digital Entertainment and eCommerce
In terms of digital entertainment, “online content and how people access and aggregate their information will continue to innovate,” explains Sieff. “Online streaming TV is fast replacing cable and satellite delivery and this trend will continue to accelerate. Alongside this trend, the world of advertising is clearly trending towards programmatic advertising, which will have a powerful impact on personalisation and eCommerce growth.” The 2020s will see the omnichannel retail world continue to shift on its axis to become increasingly accessible and relevant to the consumer. This will be particularly obvious in developing countries, such as South Africa, where the online market remains limited but is now showing signs of significant growth.
Cloud Computing and Cybersecurity
Arguably the penultimate theme of the 2020s, the cloud computing and cybersecurity market is growing exponentially and is extremely competitive. It will be defined by continuous innovation, embedded cybersecurity, and privacy of information. These factors will influence which organisations thrive and which wither over the decade as those that adapt will likely grow alongside cloud demand.
Sustainable energy will dominate in the 2020s,” says Sieff. “There is an increasing awareness of the need to live more sustainably and to invest into renewable power innovation. Innovation has become a necessity, given the environmentally harmful nature of fossil fuels over and above their finite nature. It has also improved the relative cost advantage for renewable options as population growth and ongoing urbanisation continue to drive the increased consumption of electricity, particularly in a world of more interconnected devices.”