Never has digital technology been so important to the fortunes of any organization. The fallout and adjustment to life with endemic COVID-19 continues to fuel the need for alternative ways of working that rely on technology innovation and digitization in key critical spaces such as energy, manufacturing, logistics, supply chain, and semiconductors.
To help organizations understand the changing landscape and prepare for what’s ahead, ABI Research recently held its 2022 Technology Summit, which brought together key influencers to outline, discuss, and plot the trends, technologies, and market factors that will shape 2022 and beyond.
The event featured nine presentations across three days. Here are the key takeaways from those sessions.
The Tech Transforming The Supply Chain
In a presentation titled The Tech Transforming the Supply Chain, ABI Research Principal Analysts Susan Beardslee and James Hodgson discussed the impact that EVs and autonomous technology will have directly on the automotive industry and the ramifications for transport for supply chains.
Big Opportunities for Last-Mile Delivery
Beardslee and Hodgson explained that the autonomous modalities positioned for the greatest growth are those designed for last mile delivery. These include delivery vans, buses, and delivery vehicles specially designed to meet increasing demand for delivery within hours and, occasionally, within minutes.
As of now, there is a shortfall of approximately 80,000 truck drivers in the United States, and that figure is expected to double by 2030. There are simply not enough drivers to get all containers where they need to be, which is creating tremendous revenue potential for autonomous trucks.
Several companies are already taking advantage of this opportunity, and there is now proof of concept in real-world applications. For example, TuSimple & UPS already topped 160,000 autonomous miles. In addition, Walmart has used fully autonomous trucks in Arkansas since August.
The pandemic has played a significant role in boosting demand for autonomous, contactless delivery. Fueled by stay-at-home shoppers, global e-commerce spending rose by over 26% to $4.2 trillion last year. This year’s increase is expected to be another 17%, bringing the total to more than $5 trillion.
A Shift to EVs
The global semiconductor shortage has prompted manufacturers to devote more of their efforts to higher-priced vehicles, including EVs. That shortage will persist at least through the first half of 2022, and EV sales growth should continue to outstrip conventional internal combustion auto sales.
The premium price for EVs still puts some consumers off, but fleet operators understand the total cost of ownership advantages of it. Traditional truck maintenance costs come to 19 cents a mile. EVs bring that cost down while also advancing business goals tied to reducing emissions.
Sustainability and the Cost of Inaction for Manufacturers
Ryan Martin, Research Director for ABI Research, hosted a panel discussion that focused on one of the most important topics faced by leaders and implementers within the industrial sector: Sustainability and the Cost of Inaction for Manufacturers.
During the discussion, Frans van Rijn, Executive Vice President, CLO Global Supply Chain Group, Hitachi Vantara, noted that the strides made by EVs over the past few years mean that when it comes to sustainability, “the automotive division is probably further ahead than we in the computer industry.” However, progress in one industry can show the way for others to follow with respect to “culture and making big steps that will have a big impact.”
While automotive may be outpacing the computer industry, the computer industry does have something very important to contribute to sustainability, according to Tom O'Reilly, Vice President of Sustainability, Rockwell Automation. That is software for energy and emissions monitoring and reporting. “Advances in tech allow you to drive both sustainability and productivity,” he said.
Erik Josefsson, CEO, R-evolution, a division of Hexagon, agreed. “ With 10 times the data, we should be 10 times as efficient,” he said. Josefsson also warned that sustainable goals have to drive business ends: “If you don’t drive it as a business, there’s a high risk that it will become a side project.”
Michael Larner, Principal Analyst, concurred. The focus of sustainability should be more on ROIs than KPIs. He noted that, for businesses, sustainability “has to be more than a tick box; it has to go further than a KPI.”
In this respect, it’s necessary to not just account for the return on investment in sustainability but to measure the losses that can result from not making sustainability a priority. “Traditional ROI metrics moving to cost of inaction. The cost of not doing anything really is profound in manufacturing contexts,” Larner explained.
Accelerating Demand For Trusted Hardware and Confidential Computing in the IoT
With all of the data generated in the IoT, how can you safeguard it, ensuring security and trustworthiness? That was the topic tackled by a recent ABI Research panel discussion, Accelerating Demand for Trusted Hardware and Confidential Computing in the IoT.
Richard Hayton, Chief Technical Officer, Trustonic, explained that connected devices raise new concerns for bad data: “If the device can’t be trusted, you can’t trust the data that it generates.” That is what underlies the motivation for businesses to secure devices.
Hayton noted the shift in drivers for companies to ascertain the security of devices. Whereas it used to be all about the recognition that comes from certification, now, “increasingly, it is down to reputation.”
“Ransomware causes huge reputational harm,” he explained. The brands that are associated with the devices that will suffer that reputational loss are the ones that are pushing for “the standards they want their partners to meet.”
The Challenge of Complexity
The various components involved in connecting various devices means there may not be one simple, seamless security solution. Alevtina Mayerhofer, Director, Product Marketing, Embedded Security Solutions, noted, “Complexity is what makes security for the IoT environment so difficult.”
Tomasz Wozniak, Embedded Connectivity Director, Idemia, agreed that complexity remains a problem, particularly for customers who also are concerned about “solutions not working seamlessly.” That brings up the issue of interoperability that he says has to be overcome to achieve an ecosystem that delivers the smooth experience they want.
“Security by design” is the way forward, agreed Nicolas Ducrot, Vice President Enterprise IoT, Orange, and Mayerhofer. She added that the industry needs to think of security as an “integral part of the development process” that is incorporated into the design from its inception.
“DIY security is never secure,” Hayton declared, which is another reason to seek out solutions that integrate security into design.
IoT & Pharma
In IoT & Pharma, Research Analyst, Tancred Taylor provided insights on how the pharma industry is implementing technologies to improve its efficiency, reduce waste, lower costs, and implement a fully reliable and touchless solution to ascertain consistency and optimal conditions throughout its supply chain.
Pharmaceutical companies deal with huge amounts of inventory. In the United States, there are over 180,000 drug dispensation points, most of which receive deliveries five times a week and some more than once a day. One of the biggest distributors in the US can deliver 250,000 totes of drugs on a single day.
On top of the logistical challenge of managing so much volume, there is the additional difficulty of maintaining the right temperature controls to avert losses. Waste due to temperature sensitivity adds up to annual losses of about $35 million in the United States alone. Currently, 10-15% of all vaccines produced are damaged or spoiled due to conditions in transit.
Supply chain expenses have been lower for the pharmaceutical industry than for other industries – only about 1% of product cost. However, with the increased demand for transporting the COVID-19 vaccines to people all over the world, the businesses involved are interested in working to reduce risk to work with their insurance firms on reducing cost.
Tech Solutions for Pharma Transportation
With IoT-enable packaging or pallets, it’s possible to accurately track the location of a product and its condition even while it’s still in transit. Now tags on each tote coming out of a distribution center can ascertain that it’s on the right truck without the downtime or possibility of human error that results from manual checks. Bluetooth also can provide granular information on the product at a low cost.
Such solutions give supervisors a “control tower view of operations” that enables them to manage the flow of assets and products, moving away from the “deploy and dispose” model to a more sustainable one that alerts them when transport components should be retired. They gain the advantage of more digital and transparent distribution practices that helps them keep ahead of the curve.
Demystifying the Open RAN Supply Chain
Malik Saadi, VP, Strategic Technologies, ABI Research hosted several industry experts for a roundtable discussion on the benefits and roadblocks of Open RAN.
During the discussion, Demystifying the Open RAN Supply Chain, Saadi identified these three key benefits of Open RAN as:
- Innovation enablement
- Diversity in terms of supply chain competitiveness
- Flexibility to address multiple markets
To enable these benefits, Patrick Lopez. VP, Product Management — 5G, NEC, said, it’s necessary to work off a cloud-native environment that makes it possible to deploy on various environments. He said his company is working with partners to achieve delivery of 5G.
He explained: “We cannot think of one solution that will fit all the use cases. One company cannot do it all.”
Stein Lundby, Head of Corporate Technology Strategy, Qualcomm, mentioned the role standards play in advancing open RAN. “They’re going to make things even easier,” he declared.
“But you don’t necessarily need standards everywhere,” he added. He also warned of not falling into the trap of referring to the need for standards to stall progress, something that is commonly done by those who are afraid of the transition.
Understanding the Implication of RIC And SMO for Future Networks
The panel on Understanding the Implication of RIC And SMO for Future Networks discussed centered around needs to be put in place to optimize network automation. The panelists also projected when these technological solutions will be put in place.
“Automation is very important for future networks because they’re going to be a lot more complex. They’ll be supporting a lot more,” stated Rakesh Misra, Director, R&D Engineering, VMware. In contrast to the under a thousand configurations of today, they could exceed tens of thousands in the future.
Jane Rygaard, Head of Dedicated Wireless Networks, Nokia, agreed: “All of this will only work if we get the automation layer underneath first.” She believes the innovation required to achieve that “is very closely tied in with collaboration and not only one-to-one but many-to-many.”
Early use cases would center around small cell deployments. “Earliest examples will be next year,” stated Richard MacKenzie, Principal Researcher at BT. However, he agrees with the other panelists that “it will take longer for all components to be in place to be able to just add on apps as needed as we do with smartphones.”
Murat Unlusan, Access Network Architecture Associate Director, Access Network Capabilities, Turkcell, projected it will take three years or even longer for the ecosystem to mature to the point of being able to accommodate putting in third-party apps without security concerns.
Open RAN should make that third-party integration feasible, though, as Santiago Rodriguez, Head of Strategic Projects, Digital Services, Ericsson, warned, “There’s always the risk of fragmentation so we need to double-down on open standards.”
5G Positioning Implementations and Market Opportunities
In the webinar, 5G Positioning Implementations and Market Opportunities Malik Saadi, VP Strategic Technologies, ABI Research, explained how 5G positioning differs from alternative technologies and predicted when it will be ready for commercial deployment.
Real-time locating systems (RTLS) become more accurate, precise, reliable, and seamless across indoors and outdoors with the benefit of 5G. That is becoming increasingly important to optimize efficiency, increase safety, and reduce the lost revenue from downtime, as well as lost and stolen equipment.
It helps industries with several pain points, as detailed in the slide below:
In the United States alone 35,000 forklift and other logistical accidents occur every year. That translates not just into higher costs but potential fatalities.
In addition to reducing those risks in warehouses, 5G can help mining, oil and gas save tens of billions of dollars every year if safety measures are enforced through positioning technologies. With low-power consumption, 5G is expected to be the most cost-effective tech available.
However, it will not be deployed in the real world until 2023 at the earliest. Commercial releases will only happen by the end of 2024. Some applications won’t be available before 2025-2026.
The Competitive Landscape Of Mobile Operators For Enterprise Cellular
In The Competitive Landscape Of Mobile Operators For Enterprise Cellular, Leo Gergs, Research Analyst, ABI Research identified key trends and drivers for Enterprise 5G and assessed different providers.
The total addressable market for 5G in enterprise verticals will amount to more than $75 billion by 2030, with private network deployments accounting for 51% and network slicing accounting for 49%. This tremendous revenue opportunity is being driven primarily in key verticals, such as manufacturing, logistics, oil and gas, and mining.
Despite the large opportunity, many network operators do not have a viable enterprise 5G strategy. There’s no question that 5G presents a huge growth opportunity. Communication Service Providers face three distinct challenges:
- CSPs need to adjust to industry-specific churn and investment cycles.
- CSPs need to understand the composition of enterprise Decision-Making Units (DMUs), industry-specific Decision-Forming Factors (DFFs), and the respective decision-making process.
- Enterprises prefer working together with trusted partners, therefore CSPs need to factor in time before they can earn rewards.
Gergs recently assessed the state of the operator landscape in the Mobile Network Operators’ Enterprise 5G Offerings Competitive Ranking Report. This study assessed and compared 20 mobile network operators and their enterprise 5G offerings, both in terms of their innovation and their implementation capabilities.
Transformational Tech Trends Across Homes and Cities
In Transformational Tech Trends Across Homes and Cities, ABI Research's VP, Verticals/End Markets, Dominique Bonte, and Research Director Jonathan Collins examined seven transformational trends and their applications to both residential and urban contexts.
The technological advances and what they enable are:
- Ubiquitous Connected Sensors: Active Urban Infrastructure and the Sentient Home
- Sustainability and Decarbonization: The Circular City and the Low Impact Home
- Safety, Security, and Resilience: From AI-based Surveillance to Automated Response Management
- Sensor Data Monetization: Cities and Homes as Revenue Generators and Businesses
- Digital Lifestyles: New Roles for Cities and Homes
- The Cooperative Paradigm: Collaboration within and between Cities and Homes
- Robotics and Automation: From Home Cleaning Robots to Driverless Urban Maintenance Vehicles
Many of these are already in use to some degree. For example, the connected sensors that are integrated with AI and big data analytics in cities have been put into place for a variety of reasons, sometimes to advance efficiency, but more often for the sake of public safety – to reduce crime and to enable crowd control during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Some of the same motivations prompt setting up a sentient home. However, for many, it’s not just about security and energy efficiency but about maximizing convenience and expanding entertainment.
Cities today are particularly interested in ways technology can advance sustainability. Green infrastructure is coming to replace traditional gray infrastructure to promote cleaner air and water absorption.
In addition to initiatives focused on reducing emissions, new tech is being applied to enable circularity to extend the life cycle of products to avert waste and reduce the need of sourcing goods from outside the city. Achieving just 10% circularity can have a great impact on the environment.
Home as Urban Microcosm
Some of these green technologies are also implemented in the home to reduce waste and energy consumption on the residential level. Tapping into private smart home assets allows cities to spend less on building the smart city infrastructure.
Automation allows smart cities to better manage energy, traffic, and public services. Like the case of smart homes, there is a crossover of technologies used by individuals — like driverless vehicles — for city use. Automation is also key in orchestrating the various forms of technology adopted by the smart city to react to an emergency.
Barriers for Adoption
Lack of funding combined with lack of awareness of what smart technologies can accomplish are the primary barriers to their adoption by cities, which have particularly long purchase and project life cycles. Additional challenges include concerns about privacy rights and the companies involved in the technological solutions that gain access to individuals’ data.
From 5G to IoT to smart cities, technology is revolutionizing processes, businesses, and even daily life. To keep you and your organization up to speed, get insights and analysis from our worldwide team of analysts—subscribe to ABI Research today.