What technologies matter? What trends should be closely monitored? How can society and industries optimally prepare for 2030? Our Technology Outlook 2030 explores these questions against the framework of known trends towards 2030:
a growing, ageing population and global GDP rising by more than one third in the next decade, while energy use and emissions decouple from economic growth as the energy transition takes effect1.
The reality of climate change is everywhere – in policy dialogues, and visibly in the form of more frequent and impactful extreme weather events2 disrupting business, displacing people and endangering our ecosystems.
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is the UN’s framing plan of action for people, planet and prosperity. It is evident, however, that a deeper, faster and more ambitious response is needed to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The UN Secretary-General António Guterres states that3:
"The natural environment is deteriorating at an alarming rate: sea levels are rising; ocean acidification is accelerating; the last four years have been the warmest on record; one million plant and animal species are at risk of extinction, and land degradation continues unchecked."
We also expect continued geopolitical uncertainties, possibly limiting trade and therefore technology availability and access, but our analysis does not assume major global disruption in the form of war or epidemics.Digitalization
The milestones are well known: IBM’s first PC in 1981; the advent of the World Wide Web in 1990; the launch of the iPhone in 2007. Digital technology is now inside every aspect of business and life and increasingly dominated by a few technology giants.
Today, we can detect the signature of six digital technology trends that will shape our world towards 2030:
- connecting people to the internet more intimately
- ubiquitous sensors (IoT)
- communication and computing everywhere
- artificial intelligence
- platform-based social and economic models
- the digitization of material through additive manufacturing
While the rate of technological change is accelerating, governance of digital technologies lags behind. Several recent accidents associated with the integration of digital technologies into physical systems underline the limits of regulation.
In the rush to take advantage of the technology potential we may forget that we are creating complex systems and that these systems have embedded risks which are different from the sum of their parts. The world is at risk of no longer having the capacity to cope with these complex systems and this can lead to major unmanaged risks and, consequently, new trust gaps.
We assume that the world will follow current trends towards 2030, with political and environmental uncertainties shaping the global risk picture. Technologies typically introduced to create advantages, also add new risks.
Key questions are therefore: Which technologies will emerge that create new risks and uncertainties affecting the long-term value of our assets as well as the wellbeing of people and the planet? And, which emerging technologies could help us manage our risks better and help us to reach the SDGs?Which technologies matter?
This Outlook presents trends and associated technologies before describing their expected impacts on society and industries. We followed a two-step approach in identifying these trends and technologies.
Our first step – top-down – looked at the industries we serve and those that are adjacent and considered technology areas and trends likely to be influential. Our second step – bottom-up – drew on the insights of the wider organization of DNV GL to identify technologies that will have an impact before 2025 and those that we see emerging towards 2030. We validated our findings in a series of workshops inviting our stakeholders.
We grouped selected technologies into ten key technology trends and further into three categories:
- Enabling. Three technology trends can be thought of as ‘enabling’ and fostering other technologies: acceleration of digitalization, virtualization and automation across the life-cycle, and precision materials.
- Transforming. Five technology trends can be thought of as transformative in key industries: transport and logistics, low carbon energy systems, health data, precision food and space.
- Sustaining. The third group of technology trends contains technologies that help to sustain our biosphere: the ocean space and other natural ecosytems.
For each trend, we have selected those technologies that have the largest expected economic and societal impact on our target industries – Maritime, Oil and Gas, Energy, Healthcare and Food – in the coming decade.Society
We have placed society in the centre of this publication: society is the fulcrum upon which technology gains leverage – technology impacts society, which in turn mediates and shapes technology trends. The world faces tough choices in the coming years with respect to the energy transition, privacy, security and ethics in the digital context, and within the overarching frame of meeting society’s needs within the sustainable boundaries of the planet. Policy matters, and has arguably never mattered more.