Thanks to technological advances and a ubiquitous and urgent concern for the environment, certain industries have grown tremendously over the past couple of decades. However, which ones will continue to form an influential part of global GDP?
Whether looking for new industries to invest in, start a business, or simply better understand the direction in which global business is going, here are the five industries we think will continue to grow and exert influence over global markets in the next decades.
1. Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP): This is just a fancy way of referring to communications, technologies, and transmissions techniques involved in the delivery of voice communications and multimedia sessions over Internet Protocol (IP) networks, such as the Internet. The continuing spread of 4G networks that allow for mobile ultra-broadband Internet access is creating new opportunities for high-definition mobile TV, video conferencing, 3D television and Cloud Computing. According to IBISWorld’s VoIP report, in the U.S. alone the market has increased 16.7 percent annually over the last five years, generating $15 billion in revenue each year. While Voice Over technologies (such as Google’s Video Chat and applications such as Viber) are free, according to Forbes it is a $15 billion industry.
2. E-Commerce & Online Auctions Sites: Outperforming most retail sectors, customers are becoming more and more accustomed to buying online rather than in person. Companies such as Amazon.com and eBay are already deeply engaged in the industry with an estimated 11.4% of industry revenue in 2012. However, 75% of the market is made up of small companies. According to an estimate by Forrester Research, in 2013 total retail sales made online will increase to 8%, a number that may appear small but only demonstrates the potential for growth. Internet payment systems like PayPal have continued to improve security and ease of transaction, and will only help this industry continue to grow.
3. Biotechnology: As described by Ray Kurzweil at last year’s World Innovation Forum New York, the biotechnology industry has the potential to explode in the next couple of years. Biotechnology uses biological processes in the development or manufacture of a product or in the technological solution to a problem. Although battling with controversy, high R&D costs with little revenue during development years, and serious research restraints due to the global economic situation, in 2011 the biotech industry raised more capital than any time since the genomics bubble of 2000. Fast Company’s list of the Top 10 Most Innovative Biotech Companies of 2012gives reason to suggest that there are plenty of companies taking big leaps in the area. Some examples? Life Technologiesdeveloped a sequencing machine, the Ion Proton, which can decode an entire genome for just $1,000. Bug Agentes Biológicos, headquartered in São Paulo, Brazil, has found a way to naturally combat larvae and stink bugs that threaten sugarcane and soybean plants: wasps programmed to target only their natural enemy.
4. Alternative Energies: Due to an increase in world oil prices in recent years, countries are looking for alternative and renewable energy sources. Wind, tidal, and solar power are just a few of the options that countries have begun to research in order to save money and become less dependent on unstable, oil-rich countries. The British media outlet The Guardian has a section dedicated specifically to Renewable energy, and is filled with examples of such efforts. According to the International Energy Association (IEA)renewable energy accounts for a fifth of worldwide electricity production, with massive investments taking place on a global scale in 2012. Although government policy is a factor, the demand for cheaper, cleaner technology isn’t going to go away in the next couple of decades, if anything it is going to increase. In fact, many of the companies that are making the largest developments in renewable energy are well-known: Chevron Energy Solutions has become a leader in energy conservation, geothermal and solar technologies, and are one of the largest developers of solar photovoltaic projects with over 128,000 solar panels installed. Bloomberg announced that General Electric (GE)is targeting annual sales of $100 billion from its energy unit, whose equipment provides more than a quarter of the world’s power, doubling 2011 projected revenue of $45 billion.
5. Social Network Game Development: Thanks to high speed internet, the video game industry has meshed with social networks and created a powerful and highly profitable force. According to a report by IBISWorld, the industry has grown an average of 128% annually since 2002. Jessica Rovello, Co-Founder and President of the online gaming company Arkadium, believes the gaming economy will continue to develop through the sale of items that enhance game-play. However, we aren’t just referring to entertainment such as Angry Birds and Halo, but positive and educational games. Asi Burak, Founder of Games for Change and developer Jane McGonigal discuss the positive impact that games can have on people and society. In 2012 the industry was expected to grow 20%, and over the next five years grow at an average rate of 25%.
Which industry did we miss? Which did we get wrong and why? Open discussion welcome!