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Outlook 2025: where are we? where are we going? – II

The graphic represents on the left the current perceived relevance of several technologies on business sectors, on the right the expected relevance of those technologies in 2025. Image credit: FDC IEEE

By 2025 industry is expecting to see a

  • much greater impact of 5G, both private 5G in the production environment and public 5G to support products and services in operation;
  • continuous growth of application of artificial intelligence, again both inside the company to improve efficiency of production and resilience/optimisation of the supply chain, and embedded in products to enhance performances.
  • AR and VR are considered mature and ready to play a much bigger role both inside the manufacturing process and in the usage of a product. Additionally, they are considered as crucial to support the creation of new services. However, and that is the reason of the orange highlight, a lot will depend on the availability of affordable and usable goggles. AR can be, and is now, supported by smartphones and tablets but to see a significant adoption there is a need for a completely new set of devices that can make its use seamless. Google glasses aimed to seamless use but have not been able to win the market (affordability, convenience, social acceptability). There are lots of rumours but no confirmation so far that such a seamless device will indeed become available in the coming years.

in 2017 the technologies on the horizon expected to become available in 2020 were:

  • 5G – it is here now
  • Digital Twins – more than expected
  • Smart workspaces – the pandemic has accelerated the shift of workspace to the cyberspace and we have seen a strong evolution in cooperative tools but not in the direction expected back in 2017. Use of avatars, haptic has remained on the drawing board. Experience has shown that users are not interested in those kind of technologies. Actually most videoconferences are run with audio only!
  • Conversational user interfaces – deployed and common
  • Blockchain – deployed and used
  • Augmented Reality – several mass market applications (like Ikea) are now available, smartphones supporting AR (through space awareness using LIDAR)  and developers supporting tools are available but the technology is not as seamless as it was expected to be
  • Nanotube Electronics: it has remained a research area with basically no industrial uptake
  • Enterprise taxonomy and ontology management – it has not taken over, however initiatives like Gaia-X are now pushing in this direction.

Today, in 2021 industry is expecting a progress in a variety of technology resulting in their maturity for industrial application:

  • Artificial Augmented Software Engineering / production – software production is expected to become easier and within the reach of many more company through automatic sw development, low code and no code technologies. This does not mean that all sw production will be automated, but the part of software that will be embedded in consumer devices will likely derive from off-the-shelf packages that will be customised as needed without requiring specific sw skills
  • Self-integrating applications – products will be able to leverage on their operation environment, as today they are designed to leverage from services / sw in the cloud
  • Data Fabric and Data Spaces – it is expected that data will become a shared interface supporting a variety of applications and players in the value chain and in the ecosystem. Gaia-X is working of developing data spaces with the participation of hundreds of industries worldwide
  • Multiexperience – interaction with the environment (both machines and humans) will use several channels and each one will be customised to deliver personalised experience. It is multimedia on steroid. From the industry point of view this means designing products and services that can take advantage from other products / services in a given environment
  • Composable Networks – 5G multi gate architecture and session management at the edges is expecting to create virtual networks of networks fitting specific needs as they arise (dynamical allocation / selection of resources)
  • Industry Cloud – out of the big Clouds in the network and of the Cloud at the Edge and Cloud in the Device industry expects to be able to create virtual clouds customised in semi-real time to a product/user need. Industry, in this sense, expect to become a Cloud provider, associating the product with its cloud.

About Roberto Saracco

Roberto Saracco fell in love with technology and its implications long time ago. His background is in math and computer science. Until April 2017 he led the EIT Digital Italian Node and then was head of the Industrial Doctoral School of EIT Digital up to September 2018. Previously, up to December 2011 he was the Director of the Telecom Italia Future Centre in Venice, looking at the interplay of technology evolution, economics and society. At the turn of the century he led a World Bank-Infodev project to stimulate entrepreneurship in Latin America. He is a senior member of IEEE where he leads the New Initiative Committee and co-chairs the Digital Reality Initiative. He is a member of the IEEE in 2050 Ad Hoc Committee. He teaches a Master course on Technology Forecasting and Market impact at the University of Trento. He has published over 100 papers in journals and magazines and 14 books.