From health care to transportation to energy, the United States will experience tremendous opportunities from a boom in new technologies, Rajeev Suri, president and CEO of Nokia, told an audience at the MWC Americas conference in San Francisco this week.
Suri spoke during the session, “The Fourth Industrial Revolution,” which borrowed its name from a book by Prof. Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum, who theorized about the societal impact of advances in robotics, artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, quantum computing, biotechnology, the Internet of Things, 3D printing and autonomous vehicles.
The coming industrial revolution has the potential to create an impressive $750 billion in additional revenue and $300 billion in EBITDA in 2028 to telcos, according to Suri.
During what is known as the American Century (1900-2000), the country saw the first three revolutions. Advancements in physical infrastructure technologies provided the foundation for growth: energy, transportation, health and sanitation, and communications networks. Equally important, Suri said, was the spread of those advancements to all sectors of society.
“I deeply believe that we are on the cusp of not just a new technological revolution, but a new productivity revolution,” Suri said. “One that means good things for people everywhere and provides new opportunities for businesses of all kinds.”
Suri said there are digital equivalents to the advancements made in the last century: digital energy, digital transportation, digital health, and digital communications, plus an additional one: decentralized digital production. He summarized the positive impact of each.
“We see a future where the world effectively balances the ebb and flow of the energy across a smart power grid, distributing a smarter combination of energy resources, dynamically matching energy consumption,” he said.
“To deal with today’s congested infrastructure, autonomous vehicles will use 100s of sensors and artificial intelligence to enable the perfectly choreographed movement of traffic,” he said.
“We see a world where a highly connected digital healthcare system supersedes the physical constraints of the hospital and doctor’s office. Doctor’s will make digital house calls. There will be continuous monitoring to diagnose illnesses before they spread. Add in some artificial intelligence and some digital robots and you may see the holy grail of lower costs and better outcomes,” he said.
“Networks will provide the IP layer to transform other physical infrastructure. At some point, it will be hard to distinguish the digital and the physical as they blend seamlessly to support industries and individuals,” he said.
The current production model will experience the equivalent of the Big Bang, where centralized mass production will be replaced by local micro-factories. Using 3D printers, maximized customization will be achieved for the customers with near zero inventory.
The Technological Tipping Point
These five technological areas are expected to reach a tipping point, where similar to the 1950s, enabling the United States to experience a 30-35 percent productivity jump in the five-year period from 2028 to 2033, add trillions of dollars to the U.S. economy. But there will be benefits, such as an 80 percent in revenue growth, for early adopters in the near term serving enterprise solutions, Suri said.
“Early movers in the telco industry will have a strong competitive advantage and be able to deliver strong EBITDA growth by focusing on enterprise investments,” Suri said. “By 2018, the telco industry is expected to generate $150 billion in EBITDA as a result of focusing on enterprise solutions.”
For the fourth industrial revolution to become a reality, several things must happen. Advancements must be made in artificial intelligence, virtual reality and augmented reality. Additionally, advancements in the five technological areas must be widespread with adoption across all strata of society. And, most important, billions must be invested in the telecom infrastructure.
J. Sharpe Smith is senior editor of the AGL eDigest. He joined AGL in 2007 as contributing editor to the magazine and as editor of eDigest email newsletter. He has 27 years of experience writing about industrial communications, paging, cellular, small cells, DAS and towers. Previously, he worked for the Enterprise Wireless Alliance as editor of the Enterprise Wireless Magazine. Before that, he edited the Wireless Journal for CTIA and he began his wireless journalism career with Phillips Publishing, now Access Intelligence.