A recent report from the World Economic Forum (WEF) has found that agricultural technologies are considered the most strategically important technologies for economies in the next decade, followed by education and workforce development technologies, and then power storage and generation.
Titled Markets of Tomorrow Report 2023: Turning Technologies into New Sources of Global Growth, the report highlights that the advent of the Fourth Industrial Revolution has led to wide-ranging opportunities from advanced technologies for business and government.
“In recent decades, these technologies have often failed to deliver the promised game-changing results for the benefit of society, but there is growing evidence that dynamic governments and purpose-driven businesses are willing to shape a new era of public-private cooperation,” said the report.
“A proactive approach and greater strategic planning are now required in order to create the ‘markets of tomorrow’ that meet key societal needs.”
The report explains that, to develop a more nuanced overview of the technologies and sectors that are set to shape the markets of tomorrow, it draws on more than 12,000 responses to the WEF’s Executive Opinion Survey, carried out in more than 120 economies.
The survey asked respondents about the following three key aspects of the markets of tomorrow: which technologies are the strategic priority, which sectors are most likely to generate new markets and what the main obstacles to the growth of new markets are.
With regards to agricultural technologies being viewed as the most important strategic priority, a press statement elaborates that it ranges “from low-tech irrigation methods to precision agriculture and farming drones, emerging agricultural technology is unleashing efficiency gains, boosting agricultural output and creating new green jobs”.
In terms of education and workforce learning ranking, the statement noted that “emerging digital tools and platforms, including metaverse learning, artificial intelligence and ubiquitous computing, are driving innovation. The sector is experiencing an accelerated rollout of education technologies after the COVID-19 pandemic caused a historic loss of education globally”.
The statement also touched on power storage and generation technology scoring third in the global ranking, noting that this reflects “the increasing urgency of transitioning to low-carbon energy systems. Battery and other storage technology holds the key to integrating renewable energy generation at scale into energy grids globally and this represents a significant area of current innovation and investment”.
Following agriculture technologies, education and workforce development technologies, power storage and generation in the report’s global top 10 technologies of strategic importance are e-commerce and digital trade, health and care technologies, climate change mitigation technology, digital platforms and apps, environmental management technologies, artificial intelligence as well as Internet of things and connected devices.
In addition, the statement notes, “These findings are generally consistent across low-and high-income economies, with four of the top five priority technologies shared across all income groups. However, climate change mitigation technology strikes a notable difference, ranking as the most important technology in high-income countries but eighth across all other income groups.”
Meanwhile, the study shared that when asked about the sectors where their chosen technologies might unleash new markets, respondents cited information and technology services first, reflecting the central importance of the Fourth Industrial Revolution to the markets of tomorrow. The agriculture sector came second, and the energy sector third.
Respondents also were asked to select the three most frequently cited market bottlenecks. The report noted that they answered with: skills and talent, infrastructure and initiative from the public sector.
The report concluded, “It is hoped that the research findings summarised in this report will inform discussion and action around charting new pathways for economic growth and transformation and underpinning an era of intensified public-private collaboration on market co-creation.”
The study also noted that its findings present some clear initial signals on the potential for deploying ubiquitous and emerging technologies for public good.
“The findings from leading executives around the world can be interpreted as a strong signal from the private sector that a dynamic public sector would be welcomed as a means of unlocking untapped potential for market creation. The evidence of new approaches to industrial and investment policy around the world suggest that this kind of public-sector dynamism may be on an upswing.
“This may augur well for the markets of tomorrow, which will ultimately rest on a shift towards identifying and solving the key strategic challenges in different national contexts and building dialogue and symbiotic partnerships between public and private sectors, fuelled by the need to solve the most pressing problems.”