Technology is one of the five key drivers Euromonitor International has identified as generating and shaping the megatrends that are behind the profound change unfolding in consumer markets today. While other drivers like changing consumer values, population change and shifts in economic power are rewriting aspects of consumers lives, technology is one of the most profound drivers due to how it has accelerated the rate of change, as well as its multi-industry business relevance.
Technology continues to play a critical role in the evolution of society, including the upheaval of consumer-facing industries. For example, artificial intelligence opens the door to merchants and brands creating more personalised user experiences. Augmented and virtual realities offer new lenses through which to view the world. The Internet of Things provides an opportunity for everything in the surrounding environment to communicate without human intervention.
We have summarised five key stats that put the influence of tech into perspective:
60% Industry professionals view AI as the most profound tech
Artificial intelligence (AI), technologies capable of performing tasks normally requiring human intelligence, goes back centuries. Now the confluence of three powerful drivers – exponential data growth, more sophisticated distributed networks and smarter algorithms – have propelled artificial intelligence to the centre stage for consumer applications.
According to Euromonitor International’s Digital Consumer Industry Insights Survey in September 2018, almost 60% of the 602 industry professionals ranked the impact of artificial intelligence on business in the coming five years ahead of the Internet of Things (IoT), robots/automation and the cloud, which was viewed as the most impactful technology of the last 12 months.
59% Industry professionals view AI as leading to improved customer engagements
In the same survey, Euromonitor International asked industry professionals what aspects of commerce would be most impacted by key technologies like AI. In the near term, 59% of respondents expected artificial intelligence to improve customer engagement, such as tailored marketing and personalised recommendations.
Fast forward five years and respondents see AI mostly impacting how businesses handle customer service requests, fulfillment and logistics and voice-powered applications. All three were equal with 57% of respondents pointing to these three as the most impactful outcome from the further development of AI.
8% increase with regards to the expected influence of AI on voice-powered applications
Voice-powered applications is expected to be one of the areas most impacted by the rise of AI. Respondents appear to be gaining confidence in the long-term implications. In the September survey, 57% of respondents agreed that artificial intelligence would impact voice-powered applications, up 8% from the fielding of the same survey back in February 2018. Although it is still early days, rising ownership levels of voice-enabled hardware and growing sophistication of voice assistants, particularly in North America and Asia Pacific, are creating potential for brands to engage with consumers via voice.
50.8% of global population online
The internet has been one of the modern era’s most transformative innovations and underpins many of these up-and-coming technologies.
To put the impact of the internet into perspective, only 24% of the global population had access to the internet in 2009. Since then the percentage of consumers with internet access has doubled, boosted in large part by mobile internet. For the first time in history, a majority of the global population will be connected in 2019. This equates to 4 billion internet users. The highest levels of connectivity are found in the developed world, including North America and Western Europe.
105 million of combined internet users coming online in India and China
Many consumers coming online for the first time are in emerging markets. Cheap mobile handsets and a more affordable mobile network infrastructure drove this trend over the last decade. Out of the top 10 markets expected to post the highest percentage growth in internet users in 2019, seven are in the last frontier of Africa.
The billion-people markets of China and India are forecasted to add the highest number of internet users. More than 100 million will come online from these two countries in 2019. To put this expansion into perspective, China and India will add more internet users over the next three years than what exists in the US today – the third-largest internet base.
Tech’s Influence on Megatrends
Technology created massive shifts in consumer expectations, lowered barriers of entry for fast-moving companies and inspired new digital-first business models. The rapid uptake of new technologies continues to accelerate the rate of change, making it harder for companies today to stay relevant tomorrow. Continued technological advances in areas such as artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things will further redefine what it means to live, work, shop and play for consumers over the next decade and beyond.
The constant innovation driven by technology has generated and inspired several megatrends, that are reshaping the world. Reinvented, Experience More, Premiumisation and Healthy Living are the most influenced by technology.
Our Megatrend analysis allows companies to build a long-term strategy that is proactive, making sense of where they stand today, but also ensuring they have a plan to remain relevant moving forward. It enables businesses to better anticipate market developments and lead both incremental and disruptive change for their industries.