February 01, 2016

Industries Impacted by Disruptive Technologies

It’s a well-known fact that technology has the power to completely disrupt an industry. Years ago, ATMs changed banking forever. Companies like Pandora and Spotify created a major disruption for radio and recorded music, and Amazon has forced brick-and-mortar booksellers over the country to close their doors. Recently, Skype and FaceTime have had a huge impact on voice and video calling, Square on mobile credit card processing, and Uber and Lyft on transportation. Currently there are a number of industries that are going to transform over the next decade due to advances in robotics and Artificial Intelligence (AI).

A recent report by Merrill Lynch predicts that the global market for robots and AI will grow from $28 billion to over $150 billion in just five years. According to Jay Samit, the author of “Disrupt You!”, automation through robots will replace 40 percent of jobs in the workforce. In this article, we discuss some of the industries that are poised to be impacted by disruptive technologies.


According to Merrill Lynch, over the next five years, most new cars will be smarter and connected, and by 2025, about 10 percent will be fully autonomous. McKinsey & Company predicts that 2030, once technology and regulatory issues have been resolved, up to 15 percent of new cars sold will be fully autonomous. Additionally, some companies, such as Google and Tesla, are already working on self-driving cars. And in preparation for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, Japan is already testing “robot taxis”. Additionally, self-driving cars will have an impact on auxiliary industries such as car insurance, road construction, and driving education.


The finance industry has already had its share of disruptions, with high-frequency trading, and companies offering sophisticated algorithms to manage clients’ money automatically. It is predicted that the biggest impact to the financial sector will come in the form of “robo-advisor” who will replace investment professionals. The Merrill Lynch report estimates that by 2020, there could be up to $2.2 trillion in investments made through AI-enabled computers that can learn markets.


Advances in technology impact the healthcare and medical industries on a continuous basis. Hospitals in the future will have robots helping with everything from critical surgeries to caring for elderly and disabled patients. For example, in 2000 there were only 1,000 robot-assisted surgeries performed. By 2014, there were 570,000 performed. Additionally, robots will help to close the skills gap for trained medical workers. Japan, driven by its aging population, is creating “care bots” that help the elderly with basic tasks. Think along the lines of Baymax in Disney’s hit movie “Big Hero 6”.


Currently, only 10 percent of manufacturing tasks around the world are automated. This is expected to increase to 45 percent in the next ten years. The latest generation of robots entering the factory floor are smarter, more mobile, more collaborative, and adaptable; they work alongside people without endangering them and help assemble all sorts of products, including aircraft engines, smartphones and other consumer electronics items. China plans to have its factories automated by 2025, and the International Federation of Robotics (IFR) estimates that more than one-third of the world’s industrial robots will be installed in the country.

Industrial Robots in Operation, World-Wide

Industrial Robots in Operation World-Wide

Source: The Wall Street Journal


Agriculture will also be impacted by robots and AI. Some large changes expected for the industry include driverless tractors, drones, and milk bots. According to Merrill Lynch, farms in 2025 will increasingly use AI technology and big data analytics to optimize crop output. Additionally, drones may be able to take over agriculture jobs such as crop-dusting. In England, a company named Cambridge Consultants is working on a robot that can sort fruits and vegetables, and locate and remove specific weeds from a field of crops.


We already know that commercially-available robots, such as Roomba, are available to vacuum the floors. But technology companies are also building robots that can mow the lawn, wash dishes, and clean windows.  In China, there are already restaurants using robots to take orders and serve food. In Shanghai, a restaurant recently opened which uses robots as chefs to prepare dishes.


According to Michael Rhodin, Senior Vice President of IBM’S Watson division, the number of laws in the United States is growing rapidly. AI can help to synthesize legal information, which will help lawyers better mange the times and costs of performing legal research.