STORY INLINE POST
Global economies, work practices, and the balance of geopolitical powers; the way we collaborate, work, and interact with people and things; and even how we visualize the world …— absolutely everything is changing, and doing so within the framework of a series of megatrends that are developing simultaneously, each at its own pace and scale.
In recent decades, digital technologies have matured at a phenomenal rate, and they are now being combined to solve real-world problems.
We are faced with a range of unlimited opportunities. It is up to us to accelerate the transformation together for a better future. We only need to be clear about what must happen so solutions can be adapted accordingly and for organizations to maintain their competitiveness, sustainability, and resilience, which requires agile and purposeful technologies. So, what are the megatrends and innovations that accompany them?
1. Demographic Changes. The world population is growing disproportionately. While in some regions it is increasing steadily, in others it is slowing down. The element that will connect this phenomenon to the way we address this challenge will be digital technology.
Based on the demographic dynamics, the United Nations (UN) predicts that the global average of people over 65 years old will grow threefold between 2000 and 2050. The economic growth of countries will increasingly depend on the productivity gains achieved through digitalization. Artificial intelligence (AI), automation, and robotics will take on tasks previously performed by the working-age demographic. The emerging industrial metaverse will facilitate workforce collaboration in an immersive, intuitive, and real-time environment. And people will be able to focus on what they do best: drive inspiration, creativity, and innovation.
2. Megacities. With more cities having over 20 million inhabitants and growing, the demand for urbanization (including mobility, connectivity, communication networks, livability, resources, among others) is skyrocketing, with the resulting challenge of reducing energy consumption and driving sustainability. Software-based optimization, smart hardware technologies, 5G-driven signaling, and intelligent buildings are fundamental, as is vertical agriculture, which is already proving its usefulness; an example is Bustanica, in Dubai, where LED technology, robotics, and AI-based crop management help optimize operations and maximize resources.
3. Glocalization. European and North American influence on the global economy has decreased, benefiting mainly the regions of Asia-Pacific, Mexico and Central America. While a globally connected industry drives competitiveness and innovation, locating production close to markets (nearshoring) provides local economies with resilience and sustainability. This is “glocalization,” which follows globalization and requires economic freedom, standardization and policies that support the digital economy as well as fewer technical barriers to trade.
Its success also requires access to digital technology: the secure and reliable exchange of digital information across the industry. According to the ESTAINIUM Association, this will reduce emissions from global supply chains and create strategies that will establish and optimize circular economies, achieving greater resource efficiency. Current and future international standards will enable the global interoperability of industrial digital twin architectures, resulting in better circularity within local economies.
4. Climate Change. While progress has been made in this area, current policies will not be sufficient to limit global warming to 1.5°C. According to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the main greenhouse gases reached record observed highs in 2021, with 2015 to 2022 as the warmest period on record since 1850. Additionally, water scarcity in urban areas continues to increase — in Africa alone, it is estimated that, from 2016 to 2050, the population impacted by lack of water will have quadrupled.
Solving the paradox of doing more with less is possible by combining the real and digital worlds. Terceira Island in the Azores archipelago is a good example. With Siemens’ help, they plan to reduce carbon emissions by more than 3,600t annually, combining projected energy consumption and production with a powerful energy storage system. Circular economy solutions, supported by digital passports, cryptographic tokens, and data analytics, represent another opportunity to improve resource efficiency.
Bringing about major changes in the business and industrial environment can create a positive impact on cost reductions for companies. Hence, these megatrends will require less capital investment to start or establish a company. Furthermore, leveraging these technologies decreases risk and creates positive results for industries. In this sense, it is crucial that we all adapt to this new change brought on by Industry 4.0, and, if necessary, undergo training to improve, since having extensive knowledge of technological trends could help us understand and see the world from another perspective.
As we have seen, digitalization plays a vital role in this process. At Siemens, we are convinced that together we can do more with less. We have the tools to stop environmental pollution and climate change. We have solutions to drive nearshoring, support the well-being of megacities, and enable the economic growth of countries through technology. Certainly, more revolutionary innovations will emerge to continue solving the world's problems. Stay tuned as we continue working for a better tomorrow through technology with purpose.
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