This is the first time the QinetiQ innovation team have been back in a couple of years due to the effects of Covid-19. However the world has changed quite significantly in that time, marked through the aftermath of the global pandemic, the Ukraine conflict (along with the resulting side-effects of global supply chain implications), the energy crises, and ongoing inflation - which all have contributed towards a turbulent environment.
Key global challenges
At the first media day of Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2023 Steve Koenig, VP of Research for the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), provided his view of the technology trends to watch in the near future, delving into some of the key global challenges that are facing industry:
- Supply Chains remain vulnerable following the global pandemic and whilst China’s dismantling of its zero Covid policy is helping, there is clearly still more that needs to happen in order to return to a state of ‘normal’ - although it was noted that semiconductor demand is softening.
- Koenig also recognised the problem of stubborn inflation and rising interest rates, which has led to consumer spending in technology (and technology services) flat-lining for the last two years – something that is expected to remain flat for a further 12 months.
- Finally, labour shortages were also called out as a major challenge, with the US alone having a shortage of 10 million skilled workers. In relevance to this latter challenge, QinetiQ has been actively developing a series of thought leadership in the area of Science & Technology skills, which can be accessed here.
Technology to the rescue
Koenig then went on to draw parallels with previous historic examples of where technology has been a catalyst for accelerating out of recession, illustrating some critical technologies that he sees as being key enablers:
- 5G industrial IoT applications
- Connected intelligence
- Autonomous systems
- Quantum Computing
Interestingly, these topics were not that different from the global technology trends that were identified two years ago, illustrating the impact that the recent turbulent environment has had on the pace of technology change.
The reference to Metaverse technologies was also very much in abundance. It is seen as a real trend with legitimate deliverables, although there was light detail on what those deliverables truly are. Koenig proposed a “Metaverse of Things (MoT)” where virtualisation (such as virtual spaces, and consumer facing access points) and immersion technologies (e.g. enterprise shared experiences) will provide next-generation online capability.