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Disruptive tech: Big 5 coming

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3-D printing, Internet of Things (IoT), and biotech/ healthcare IT jumped into the top five of disruptive technologies over the next three years, according to the 2014 KPMG Global Technology Innovation survey.

These three technologies are among an incremental number that are gaining momentum, disrupting industries, and enabling new business models. 3-D printing, IoT, and biotech/ healthcare IT were each selected by more than twice as many respondents as last year to move up the survey’s list of disruptive technologies. The global findings also highlighted the continuing impact of Cloud and Mobile, and the steady rise of data and analytics, autotech, and artificial intelligence. These disruptive technologies are expected to transform enterprises and enable indispensable consumer technologies.

Frank Rizzo, Director, IT Advisory, KPMG in South Africa, says this trend is increasingly evident across Africa but with a particular focus on Data & Analytics (D&A), Cloud and Mobile. KPMG surveyed 768 technology business leaders globally, including C-level executives (70 percent of respondents), from technology industry startups, mid-sized to large enterprises, venture capital firms and angel investors to identify disruptive technologies, barriers to tech innovation adoption, and the scope of business disruption and new monetisation opportunities driven by emerging technologies. “The rapid rise of this portfolio of technologies is driven by several factors, ranging from macroeconomic opportunities to local incentives and a growing global tech innovation engine that is creating more rapid widespread disruption. The interplay of these emerging technologies is enabling new business models and fuelling innovation in many industries,” said Gary Matuszak, Global Chair of KPMG’s Technology, Media and Telecommunications practice. “Leaders, across-industries, need to nail the right strategy to outpace existing and new competitors to a much higher degree than in the past. Tech innovation creates an opportunity to drive incremental customer value and monetise new business models resulting from disruptive technologies.

Africa is also witnessing a surge of tech innovation, in the way of hubs or silicon savannahs, with a particular concentration in South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria. South Africa’s Tshimologong precinct in Braamfontein, Johannesburg is the latest addition to such startups in Cape Town, Durban and Pretoria.

“This research points to the fact that global executives are increasingly seeing mobile technologies and mobile applications as an engine of growth and profitability. The vast increase in the amount of data coming from mobile devices is driving the development of advanced Analytics applications. And, in turn, the growth in Analytics is driving mobile developers to provide new, enhanced solutions that provide new types of data. This new, virtuous circle is powering the growth of global enterprise,” said Brad Fisher, KPMG’s U.S. Data & Analytics Leader.

Rizzo concurs. This virtuous circle is also true for Africa, in the Cloud and Mobile arena.

Monetising the Internet of Things:

The Internet of Things and its applications are one example of a mobile-driven growth opportunity. In the KPMG study, technology business leaders globally believed that retail/intelligent shopping (20 percent) has the greatest potential to generate revenue as a result of adoption of the Internet of Things, followed by home automation (14 percent), and surveillance/security and social interaction (both at 12 percent). Most U.S. survey respondents (22 percent) cited home automation while most China survey respondents (20 percent) said sustainable environment/waste management.

Industries that will experience greatest transformation:

Given retail’s revenue potential based on the Internet of Things, it follows that in the technology innovation study consumer markets was among the top five industries globally projected to experience the greatest transformation in the next three years as a result of emerging technologies. The five were technology (21 percent), consumer markets (12 percent), healthcare (11 percent) and automotive/transportation and manufacturing (tied at 10 percent). In the U.S., after technology (25 percent), more respondents cited healthcare (19 percent) than consumer markets (17 percent). In China, manufacturing (21 percent) was the industry cited most after technology (22 percent), and ahead of automotive (11 percent). However, the survey responses on this topic differed most in Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) compared to the global responses and views in other regions. In EMEA, the top four were technology (16 percent), followed by healthcare and energy (each at 12 percent), and aerospace and defense next (11 percent).

Digital currency and mobile payments:

Digital currency (i.e. Bitcoin/Blockchain, etc.) is one of the emerging technologies that may impact a sector or an industry and whether they are adopted widely as payment in the next few years depends on the country or region. The percentage of respondents by region or country that said it is likely that digital currencies will disrupt banking and payments in the next three years: 15 percent U.S., 21 percent Americas, 32 percent EMEA, 39 percent globally, 53 percent Asia Pacific, and 70 percent China.

“Asia Pacific generally has been an early adopter of mobile payments and e-commerce and may be more comfortable using digital currency,” said Edge Zarrella, KPMG China technology practice leader. “China is one of the innovators in the payments’ sector especially in e-commerce. With the massive rise of the consumer in China, there are significant innovations taking place.

Rizzo notes that Africa is leading the mobile payments movement driven by the sheer proliferation of mobile devices on the continent. Mobile payment solutions such as m-pesa, a run-away success in Kenya and Tanzania, are growing exponentially in popularity in South Africa.

Challenges to tech innovation and commercialisation:

The KPMG technology innovation survey also captured the biggest challenges to innovation and commercialisation. When asked which factors will limit/constrain innovation, more than one third (34 percent) of the tech business leaders globally said restrictive regulatory policies, while 29 percent cited consumer fatigue/pullback, and 27 percent said ability to demonstrate ROI. The order was similar by region, except in EMEA, where the ability to demonstrate ROI was second to restrictive regulatory policies.

In South Africa, the pending implementation of The Protection of Personal Information Act (POPI) – which protects the privacy and personal information of consumers within organisations – may present challenges to tech businesses once effected (the implementation date hasn’t been proclaimed).

Survey respondents globally said the top barriers to commercialise technology innovation were security (27 percent), technology complexity (22 percent) and customer adoption (21 percent). Respondents in China listed their top three as technology complexity, security and risk management.

Most EMEA tech business leaders selected customer adoption as the top barrier, followed by funding/access to capital and technology complexity, while cyber security is a prime concern for Africa.

For enterprises and governments, tackling security and transparency issues will remain a priority even as next-gen cybersecurity solutions emerge to deal with this challenge. Tech companies, big and small, will continue to invest in the development and implementation of Information Security and IT risk management technologies to manage security issues proactively,” said Richard Hanley, U.S. Advisory Industry Leader, KPMG Technology, Media and Telecommunications practice.

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