Tech trends 2020 – these 8 trends will shape the economy

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Burkhard Richter
director digital consulting

At the beginning of every year, the digital industry discusses which technologies, trends and developments (must) be at the top of the digital agenda. From blockchain and augmented reality to multi-connected businesses and new mobility, the focus is on a wide variety of technologies – but which trends have a lasting influence on digital transformation, what hype must be included in corporate strategy? Our Digital Consultants classify.

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Alexander Käppler
Senior Digital Consultant

Voice-as-UI – language on the rise

Even if the current digital assistants like Google Assistant, Siri or Alexa are not yet perfect – they learn fast. Voice applications will continue to be an important topic in 2019. Companies that haven't had any experience with voice applications yet or have never created a skill for Google or Alexa should start now. The artificial intelligences behind the voice systems learn at exponential speed which means whoever has no experience with voice systems quickly loses touch to the rest of the world.

Multi-Connected Businesses

The trading business has been shifting in the direction of marketplace dominance for years. Whether Zalando, Amazon, Alibaba or Otto – in order to be able to exist as a trader, there is often no way around participating in the marketplace. In addition to high data quality, this also requires an increasingly stronger ability to import this data into marketplaces and deliver sales. Due to the expected further growth of "Voice-as-UI", contextuality and sensor technology will be added to the already high demands on the responsiveness of content. This means that the content currently produced by companies (images, descriptive texts, instructions, buttons, etc.) will not only have to be optimised for different screen sizes (responsive content), in the future it will also have to be optimised for different senses (sensor technology).

This will probably not become noticeable until the end of 2019, when online shops and media providers perceive a loss of traffic because the produced content simply cannot be reproduced on voice assistants or other audio devices, there is no suitable call 2 action or the user is simply overwhelmed with the information offered. We think content will have to start becoming multisensory and contextual from 2019 – because what users do not hear is simply not present in their world.

Sönke Iwers
Digital Consultant

The advantages of online and offline for retail: Connected Retail

The combination of the online and offline worlds in retail will also increase in 2019. About two years after the takeover of Whole Foods by Amazon, digital technologies are increasingly being tested in the Amazon universe. In addition, other (stationary) retailers are expanding their digital expertise, driven by technologies such as AR. Pure players are pushing into the market and using flagship stores both for a special customer experience (Amazon, bonprix, Mister Spex) and recently for end-customer sale. In addition, the digital technologies will be connected to the digital channels at the offline POS.

Here are some exciting examples:

  1. Amazon Go Stores offer cashierless checkout (products taken along are directly assigned to the buyer in the store)
  2. Kroger (US) builds a digital store together with Microsoft
  3. Saturn with an increasing connectivity of its stationary areas
  4. bonprix is also planning to open a digital store in Hamburg's city centre

Creating a technical base for the future: API Readiness

Companies will increasingly be available on a larger number of digital touchpoints (not only Desktop & Mobile but also on all internet-enabled devices); in the future this will only be possible with a strategy based on interfaces. In 2019, the topic of API's will be even more relevant in business contexts and will become a digital homework for many companies. Headless systems fill the gap and will drive the paradigm of (modular) API-based systems forward in future. Meanwhile, almost all large shop systems (e.g. commercetools and hybris) invest (or are based) in the structure and functional APIs that are available independently of the frontend. So the goal for many exciting new e-commerce developments is no longer "mobile first", but "headless API first"!

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Dirk Feldmann
Senior Digital Consultant

New Mobility – Catch me if you can

2019 and these questions are still open: How will we be driving in traffic in the coming years, how do we finally get our cities car free, when and how do we switch to electric mobility, do we always have to have four wheels and how do we organize all this on our mobile phones?

The traditional German automobile manufacturers seem to have woken up, boosting their e-mobility production with gigantic amounts of money, investing massively in loading concepts and digital strategies and are allying themselves in the fight against Tesla, Uber, Waymo and Co. It seems as if the real race is no longer taking place on the streets and in front of the car dealerships – it is more a matter of getting to the customers' mobile devices and Incar systems. Well, then!

This year, Daimler and BMW combine their carsharing subsidiaries Car2Go and DriveNow with the highly successful mobility app MyTaxi into a new billion-euro corporation. Finally understood and finally together: "Mobility as a Service" is less about the vehicle and its features than about availability, access and smartness. The right use case at the right time wins customers and gains profit. MyTaxi boasts a solid 75 percent increase in turnover last year and 60 percent growth with more than 40 million rides. We hear that the success is also due to concepts that were copied from the competitor Uber. Now customers have the opportunity to share a taxi with other passengers and therefore save even more money. Based on own big data analyses, algorithms and targeted benchmark analysis, take the decisive leap forward and invest heavily in the own digital excellence– then you succeed in what everyone wants: profitable serious mobility solutions that will scale globally.

What's next? Germany is getting ready for the E-Scooter boom! With the expected approval this year, we will see more electric scooters in our cities. In Switzerland, Denmark and Spain they are already very successful, in Asia and the USA anyway: as a last-mile solution and ideally as a sharing offer. This is where start-ups can also get their chance. The role models Lime and Bird from the USA show how quickly it can be possible to establish a genuine mobility alternative to cars nationwide and affordable for the user. Everything is data-centered, digitally networked, shareable and app-based and pre-financed by promising investors. This could work. Have you heard of hive? The latest spin-off of MyTaxi (and Daimler in the background): From concept to launch in the Lisbon test market in just a few weeks. hive is the new app for electric scooter sharing, ready to roll over Europe. Catch me if you can!

Henning Kuch
Digital Consultant

Internet of things

The Internet of Things is and remains the trend topic, especially for industrial applications. The need for networking, communication and smart use of data is particularly high here, as the investment costs are high. In the B2C market, there is a noticeable trend in the smart home segment, with networked products such as security systems for the home and apartment as well as various lighting systems taking centre stage. Food and furniture discounters have picked up the trend and will bring IoT-enabled devices to the market in 2019.

The increasing market penetration is enabled by the investments made (technology development, IoT platforms, development of efficient communication hardware). This area will consolidate the multitude of solutions used to establish industry standards and best practices. Further innovations, such as 5G, will ensure IoT's sustainable trend, meaning that this topic will remain with us over the next few years.

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Alexander Käppler und Stefan Westphal
Senior Digital Consultants

Augmented Reality – it's getting serious

Augmented reality will become a bit more everyday experience for end customers. In the Gartner Hypecycle for Emerging Technologies, augmented reality is at a point that will be followed by seriousness.

On the technology side, it will be Apple – with the solid integration of AR into the iOS operating system – and the WebXR standard, which may finally be adopted in 2019. This allows immersive content to be integrated seamlessly into everyday browsing. The fact that the google search for "shoes" will show 3D models on smartphones instead of pictures in the near future is only one of the many obvious applications. The extended reality also gives stationary retailers a whole range of possibilities to improve the customer experience. Whether navigation or further content information about a product, an outfit or a store itself – the retail trade will not be able to avoid the curation of real and digital content if it wants to continue to exist in the coming years.

And then there's Niantic. The company that brought us Pokemon Go just received a $190 million financing for its successor: "Harry Potter: Wizards Unite". As the title of the game suggests, the players will simultaneously be able to enchant and transform their environment together in the probably first Massive Multiplayer Game in AR. In addition, the game will be a test for Edge Computing for mobile network operators (see new networks for new possibilities) during organized events in real life (which already existed at Pokemon Go).

Stefan Westphal
Senior Digital Consultant

New networks for new possibilities

No matter how long the auction of the 5G radio frequencies in Germany will last, in 2019 we will see the first market-ready business models and applications. They will be driven by the technologies Edge Computing and Massive Machine Type Communication. The fast data transmission promised by 5G will only play a minor role. The less publicly discussed technical features of the network will be much more important: very low latency, extremely high reliability with low energy consumption at low transmission rates, and the ability to address many more devices than today per radio cell. 5G becomes a driver of applications from the AR/XR, IoT and autonomous driving sectors in city centres.

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Burkhard Richter
director digital consulting