Monday, February 8, 2016

Emerging Technologies Enable Multi-Billion-Dollar Opportunities

By Leo O’Connor

Vice President, Global Research, Technical Insights
Frost & Sullivan

We see disruptive innovation everywhere these days with automakers doing serious development of autonomous cars, and taxi companies, including Uber and Lyft, leveraging the Internet and riding the trend of car sharing to redefine the way we commute from one location to the next. Just as important, we see convergence of technologies and industries with automakers, such as General Motors and Ford, not only developing autonomous cars, but also investing in companies disrupting the taxi business, with a view to launching autonomous cars to serve those markets.

These trends—disruptive innovation and convergence—are driving factors for the development and adoption of the Top 50 multi-billion dollar technologies and innovations reshaping our world within the next 2 to 3 years. The technologies include exciting emerging areas such as flexible electronics, drones, and polymer chameleons, and more main-stay but equally important disruptors such as anti-corrosion coatings and carbon fiber-based, lightweight composites.

The Top 50 are part of the TechVision program invented and managed by Rajiv Kumar, a Senior Partner in Frost & Sullivan, and implemented by the company’s TechVision team of analysts and consultants.

The program is in its fifth year, allowing us to compare and contrast from year to year the fortunes of emerging and disruptive technologies and the growth of the technology clusters in which the technologies reside.

Disruption can be a frightening prospect for companies unaware of technologies that will soon arrive to broadside market positions and unsettle the plans of strategy, research and development, and product development teams. At the same time, technologies that are emerging and disruptive present an abundance of opportunities to established and emerging entities.

Emerging technologies enable the development of products and services, operations and processes, and new business models that are creating new markets and disrupting existing markets. While the key to innovation is in knowing what your customers want before they do, identifying disruption before it happens is clearly challenging—even when you evaluate technologies leveraging a rigorous process, the real potential for their adoption still comes with uncertainty.

To mine insights into potentially disruptive opportunities, we must apply a rigorous process that analyzes technologies from multiple perspectives including the following:

  1. Evaluate opportunities from the perspective of technologies emerging within 9 technology clusters that represent the vast majority of technologies being developed today.
  2. Identify and evaluate megatrends and understand how they are creating demand and opportunity for the launch of future products and services.
  3. Evaluate markets where there are opportunities and unmet needs.
  4. Identify innovation ecosystem drivers and monitor how they are progressing: research labs, academic labs, investment community, government communities, standards, etc.
There are ample ideas and technologies that present opportunities for disruption. We brainstorm among thousands of technologies and then begin to drill down using a selection process that leverages a weighted decision support matrix.
  • Step 1 requires scanning and brainstorming about the broad, global technology pool with teams of analysts contributing ideas and analysis from the technology clusters in which they specialize. The clusters include advanced materials and coatings, advanced manufacturing and automation, sensors and controls, microelectronics, medical devices and imaging technology, information and communication technology, health and wellness, sustainable energy, and clean and green environment.
  • Step 2 requires running hundreds of top-ranked technologies through a weighted decision support matrix leveraging sub-constructs (including IP activity, funding, market potential, megatrend impact, regional adoption potential, sector adoption potential, technology disruptiveness, and technology cluster evolution), rolling up into parent criteria (including intensity of impact, year of impact, index of disruption, and index of cluster evolution).
  • Step 3 selects the top 50 technologies by assigning an innovation index score that is based on the result of the decision support matrix evaluation.
This past year, the top 50 technologies included drones, smart sensors, bio sensors, wearable electronics, virtual reality, and immersive computing to name a few.

We’re able to compare and contrast how each technology has grown in each cluster from year to year. We can also create strategic opportunities matrices (market potential v. IP), technology attractiveness matrices (IP v. funding), and market attractiveness matrices (sector adoption v. market potential).

Participants in our workshops leverage the content and our emerging technology innovation tools to visualize and analyze large scale opportunities, where emerging technologies are converging to create multi-billion-dollar opportunities. Here’s one example. An advanced preventive maintenance system leverages the emerging areas of predictive data analytics, sensor fusion, 3D printing, and carbon fibers. Multiple types of sensor data sent to the predictive analytics system yields insights into the timing of parts replacement. Prior to a part being replaced, the predictive data analysis system sends a signal to a 3D printer that fabricates the replacement part just in time for installation, maximizing the opportunity for system uptime and saving money that would otherwise be lost during downtime. The fabricated part can be produced from a carbon fiber composite because these materials can now be 3D printed.

The Final Word
It’s important when looking for opportunities for new product development and innovation to consider technology push parameters, mega-trends, and market drivers and restraints on a global scale. Equally important is identify growing industries and markets, and evaluating where emerging technologies are just beginning to intersect. Intersecting technologies, markets, and industries provide the greatest opportunity to introduce products, services, processes and business models leveraging new, innovative, and breakthrough technologies. 

Frost & Sullivan has content and tools to provide an analysis of the top 50 new game-changing innovations and technologies, allowing brainstorming and evaluation of multi-billion dollar opportunities, providing bespoke insights and guidance for organizations.

For further information click on the following link: and contact the author at:

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