A Decade Of Change: How Tech Evolved In The 2010s And What’s In Store For The 2020s – Seeking Alpha

Posted: February 16, 2020 at 3:52 pm

Significant technological advancements and societal shifts occurred during the 2010's decade. Yet many of these developments became so quickly engrained in our daily lives that they often went relatively unnoticed, and their impact all but forgotten. Over this next decade, the 2020s, we expect similar rapid and meaningful advancements to occur. Moore's law suggests that over a 10-year period, semiconductors will advance by 32 times, bringing about mesmerizing innovation in the digital age that should not only change technology but society as well. In this piece, we review the technological advancements over the last decade and anticipate what revolutionary changes may be in store for us over the next 10 years.

Mobile upgraded from 3G to 4G networks

Social Media Brought Our Lives Online

The Dawn of Genomics and Precision Medicine

Electric vehicles (EVs) became competitive with internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles

AI and Big Data Took Off

Data storage moved to the cloud

5G becomes the new wireless standard

5G's means more than just a faster internet. It proliferates the mass-adoption of connected devices in homes, cities and enterprises, including those involved in agriculture, healthcare, manufacturing, and infrastructure. Increasingly, these industries rely on connected devices to gather and analyze data, making processes more efficient, reducing downtime, and freeing up time to focus on new products and initiatives.

The continued decline of computing costs and improvements in network infrastructure and artificial intelligence are key drivers of the emergence of edge computing - data processing conducted locally without transmission across a large network. Some technologies require instantaneous data interpretation and can't rely on networks with higher latency. Autonomous vehicles, robotic surgery, gaming, and smart factories, for example, can require near simultaneous data transmission. Edge computing reduces latency to 5-10 milliseconds from 25-35 milliseconds for early deployed 5G devices.10 A study estimates the economic impact of edge computing to reach $4.1 trillion by 2030.11

Transportation goes electric, autonomous, and shared

Shared autonomous and electric vehicles are expected to cost $0.35 per mile by 2030, less than half the cost of owning a personal sedan ($0.88 per mile).12 By 2030, new car models equipped with self-driving technology are expected to be commonplace. This transition will allow drivers to take their hands off the wheel while their vehicles drive autonomously, or to hail driverless shared robotaxis. Considering that the average American spends 18 days' worth of time driving each year, greater than the average number of vacation days per year (10 days), the productivity and leisure benefits of autonomous vehicles could be enormous.

Robotics enters new industries

Improvements in artificial intelligence and dexterity are the result of advanced 3D vision capabilities and end-of-arm tooling for precise movements. While the auto manufacturing segment remains robotics' largest end-market, emerging segments like healthcare and hospitality can benefit from smarter, more capable robots that can conduct surgery, check on patients, cook food, or deliver items to hotel rooms. Agriculture will also see a robotics-driven revolution with automated spraying, monitoring, and picking likely resulting in reduced costs and improved crop yields. The global stock of industrial robots is expected to reach 20 million by 2030, representing a 24% CAGR as robots enter more industries.13

Omnichannel-commerce: Not a zero-sum game between e-commerce and brick-and-mortar

The separation between e-commerce and brick and mortar retail will blur as digital and physical shopping experiences become one in the same. Augmented reality will give consumers the ability to try on and order clothes from the comfort of their homes, but physical stores with reduced footprints will feature unique consumer experiences, immediate purchases, and try-before-you-buy optionality. Coupled with IoT technologies that track consumer behavior and build datasets around it, and advances in AI, retailers could be able to predict consumer behavior at almost 100% accuracy. We also expect to see e-commerce as a value add for small- and mid-sized businesses, providing a medium for them to sell products outside of their locality and giving a means of accessing global consumer-bases.

As the population ages, there will be increasing pressure to reduce costs, improve patient outcomes, and optimize physicians' time. All of this is possible by leveraging telemedicine and artificial intelligence - two technologies that are set to disrupt healthcare. Telemedicine offers an alternative solution to in-person doctor visits, providing diagnostic and clinical services to patients around-the-clock, from the convenience of one's home or workplace. Currently, telemedicine utilization rates remain below 10% in the U.S., but penetration is likely to grow as technology reduces costs and adds convenience.14 Further digitalization of healthcare will also enable new use cases for AI. Recent developments like AI-driven, real-time MRI interpretation could mean enhanced diagnoses and treatments across other healthcare verticals, in addition to its use in telemedicine as an AI chatbot for triage or basic medical advice.

Advances in genomics could offer the first realistic opportunity to cure certain illnesses previously deemed fatal. Scientists have identified more than 50,000 genetic diseases caused by a single gene mutation in humans, known as Mendelian diseases. These are likely to be the first diseases treated through gene editing techniques.15 As the medical and scientific communities' understanding of gene expression and protein pathways improves and genomic sequencing costs continue to fall, we expect a vast increase in the number of tested and proven genomic therapies.

The 2010s were a decade of phenomenal innovation, led largely by the transition to mobile and the rise of data, which accelerated the growth of AI, e-commerce, social media, and biotechnology. In the 2020s, additional foundational changes will take place as data latency shortens and AI algorithms improve. Such progress should enable new technologies to flourish, including autonomous vehicles, conversational AI, the massive internet of things, and augmented and virtual reality. As new technologies are introduced to the market place, they will have a profound impact on our lives, workplaces, and even investments as they reshape the economy.

Related ETFs

BOTZ: The Global X Robotics & Artificial Intelligence ETF (NASDAQ:BOTZ) seeks to invest in companies that potentially stand to benefit from increased adoption and utilization of robotics and artificial intelligence (AI), including those involved with industrial robotics and automation, non-industrial robots, and autonomous vehicles.

SNSR: The Global X Internet of Things ETF (NASDAQ:SNSR) enables investors to access a potential high growth theme through companies at the leading edge of IoT, an approach which transcends classic sector, industry and geographic regions to target this emerging theme. In a single trade, SNSR delivers access to dozens of companies with high exposure to emerging IoT technology.

CLOU: The Global X Cloud Computing ETF (NASDAQ:CLOU) seeks to invest in companies positioned to benefit from the increased adoption of cloud computing technology, including companies whose principal business is in offering computing Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), managed server storage space and data center real estate investment trusts, and/or cloud and edge computing infrastructure and hardware.

AIQ: The Global X Future Analytics Tech ETF (NASDAQ:AIQ) seeks to invest in companies that potentially stand to benefit from the further development and utilization of artificial intelligence (AI) technology in their products and services, as well as in companies that provide hardware facilitating the use of AI for the analysis of big data.

DRIV: The Global X Autonomous & Electric Vehicles ETF (NASDAQ:DRIV) seeks to invest in companies involved in the development of autonomous vehicle technology, electric vehicles ("EVs"), and EV components and materials. This includes companies involved in the development of autonomous vehicle software and hardware, as well as companies that produce EVs, EV components such as lithium batteries, and critical EV materials such as lithium and cobalt.

GNOM: The Global X Genomics & Biotechnology ETF (NASDAQ:GNOM) seeks to invest in companies that potentially stand to benefit from further advances in the field of genomic science, such as companies involved in gene editing, genomic sequencing, genetic medicine/therapy, computational genomics, and biotechnology.

SOCL: The Global X Social Media ETF (NASDAQ:SOCL) seeks to provide investment results that correspond generally to the price and yield performance, before fees and expenses, of the Solactive Social Media Total Return Index.


1. Ken'sTechTips, "Download Speeds: What Do 2G, 3G, 4G & 5G Actually Mean?," Nov 23, 2018.

2. Vox, "Digital advertising in the US is finally bigger than print and television," Feb 20, 2019.

3. Statista, "Number of global social network users 2010-2021," Aug 14, 2019.

4. Note: Estimates from Statista correspond to yearly averages (Statista publishes monthly or quarterly figures). Estimates from TNW correspond to the first figure provided for the corresponding year (TNW published an animation with interpolated data). Estimates for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp, and Pinterest are taken from Statista. All other series come from TNW. TNW does not provide details regarding their underlying sources but our analysis suggests their estimates are consistent with primary sources and reports such as company earnings press releases, official company websites, and published articles. Statista uses monthly active users to measure social media platform usage. Statista specifies "Facebook measures monthly active users (MAUs) as users that have logged in during the past 30 days. Users are counted separately for Facebook and other apps. Statista specifies "Figures do not include Instagram or WhatsApp users unless they would otherwise qualify as such users, respectively, based on their other activities on Facebook."

5. Bloomberg, "The CRISPR revolution & hyper-personalized medicine," Jan 15, 2018.

6. BloombergNEF, "A Behind the Scenes Take on Lithium-ion Battery Prices," Mar 5, 2019.

7. Global X, "What's Driving the Electric Vehicle, Lithium, and Battery Markets in 2019?," May 21, 2019.

8. Fenner, "Alibaba's AI Outguns Humans in Reading Test

9. Bondcap, "Internet Trends 2019," Jun 11, 2019.

10. Financier Worldwide, "The emergence of edge computing," Dec 2019.

11. Chetan Sharma Consulting, "The Edge Internet Economy Forecast to be Worth Over $4.1 Trillion," Aug 21, 2019.

12. Rocky Mountain Institute, "Peak Car Ownership," 2016.

13. Oxford Economics, "How Robots Change the World," Jun 2019.

14. Teladoc, "Investor Presentation: Canaccord Growth Conference," Aug 8, 2019.

15. WIRED, "Gene Editing is Trickier Than Expected-but Fixes Are in Sight," Feb 28, 2019.

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A Decade Of Change: How Tech Evolved In The 2010s And What's In Store For The 2020s - Seeking Alpha

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