SAN ANTONIO --August 27, 2002--The convergence of nanotechnology, biotechnology, information technology, and cognitive science will have a substantial impact on companies and markets in the future. Though technology convergence is still only a concept, it is already beginning to define the global marketplace.
Technologies such as connections between the brain and machines, wearable health monitors, smart houses made of environment-sensitive materials are not science fiction anymore, but are scientifically feasible.
It is very likely that these technologies will emerge in the next 20 years. Some convergent technologies are already hitting the marketplace. Among these are optical microelectromechanical systems (MEMS), the subject of a multi-client report soon available from Technical Insights.
However, the key question is whether technology developers want to devote their resources to the technologies that are further in the future. Corporate and political strategy as well as public preferences will determine the course of convergent technology.
Convergence promises to transform existing technologies into lucrative commercial endeavors and many companies are investing heavily in research and development (R&D). Technical Insights' Inside R&D subscription service examines the National Science Foundation's view on converging technologies in its monthly column on Managing Innovations.
Further, the annual survey by Inside R&D reveals that the top 100 U.S. companies have spent more than $124 billion on R&D in 2001, up 16.2 percent from the previous year. Companies in the pharmaceuticals, automotive, and telecommunications sectors have made the largest investments.
"Business and industry are already beginning to restructure themselves as network-based organizations follow fundamentally new management principles," states Techincal Insights Analyst Charles Joslin.
Industries of the future will use engineered biological processes to manufacture new materials. New generations of convergent technologies will create much more efficient manufacturing, sales, and distribution systems with better margins and profits. Lower prices, wider choices, and higher standards of customer service will result in many more satisfied customers.
Converging technologies will positively influence work efficiency and production. Individually or combined, nanotechnology, information technology, biotechnology, and cognitive science, can be used to develop manufacturing systems that will mechanically adjust design features without the need to stop production or retool.
Companies should develop partnerships that will give them the scope to exploit the tremendous opportunities from technological convergence. Joint ventures, research linkages with universities, and investing in production facilities are the platforms for future success.
New analysis by Technical Insights, a business unit of Frost & Sullivan (www.technical-insights.frost.com), featured in Inside R&D highlights the implications of converging technologies for the R&D industry.
Frost & Sullivan is a global leader in strategic market consulting and training. Acquired by Frost & Sullivan, Technical Insights is an international technology analysis business that produces a variety of technical subscriptions and growth consulting services. Ongoing analysis on convergent technologies is available in Inside R&D, a Technical Insights subscription service. Interviews are available to the press.