2016 was a breakthrough year for technologies such as Big Data, Artificial Intelligence and Virtual Reality – a trend that is set to continue in 2017. Hjalmar Winbladh, Partner and Co-Head of EQT Ventures, shares his insights on what opportunities these technologies bring and how they will transform our society.
Big Data and Artificial Intelligence
Big Data and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are believed to take “the next big step” in 2017. Big Data and AI have the ability to fundamentally transform numerous industries to and make them more efficient in ways beyond what humans are able to achieve.
“While AI has been around for a decade in different forms, what we have seen in the last couple of years is an increase in computing power and the cost of technology falling dramatically. The result is Big Data sets being used to teach deep learning algorithms over time and create corporate memory – the companies actively using these technologies will have a significant competitive advantage”, says Hjalmar Winbladh.
Increasing disruption due to technology
In many industries, the first wave of technological advancement induced the gradual replacement of blue collar jobs. In the second wave, which includes the introduction of AI, this trend will continue its further substitution of blue-collar jobs as well as bringing major efficiency gains in areas that have previously been executed by the white-collar work force.
Hjalmar Winbladh continues: “The societal effects of this technological transformation will be fundamental across all sectors and change the way the service industry works, with advisory roles starting to be replaced by machines. The result will be a return of industries back to the West, but with less service jobs as we know them today. However, history has always showed us that new major technological shifts open up for new opportunities and is has always generated new types of industries and jobs”.
Virtual Reality and eSports
Virtual Reality (VR) was another breakthrough technology in 2016 and it will continue to dominate the conversation in 2017, with increased attention from traditional businesses and venture capital firms.
An industry that adopted VR technology early on was eSports (also known as electronic sports), online competitive leagues where players compete against each other in different video games. It has enjoyed success with mainstream audiences, and in 2016 there were more people streaming eSports than watching the Olympic Games.
“Given the already successful synergy with consumers, it is likely that VR technology will have a huge impact on the gaming sector in 2017, especially as demand is expected to grow as the technology advances and becomes more affordable”, says Hjalmar Winbladh.
EQT Ventures supports ambitious founders on their journeys to global success, as ‘old economy’ companies are being rapidly disrupted and new fast-growing companies are being born.
Fueled by some of Europe’s most obsessive company builders, engineers, designers, marketers, data scientists and scaling experts, EQT Ventures leverages the full EQT platform and infrastructure, including its extensive network of more than 250 industrial advisors, to provide visionary entrepreneurs with access to expertise that otherwise would not be available to companies of their size.
The Ventures team also assists EQT’s wider portfolio in accelerating their digitalization process. For example, these (often much larger) companies have the potential to work closely with the Ventures portfolio to utilise their technology. One example is Sportradar, an EQT VI portfolio company, which became the biggest initial customer of EQT Ventures’ portfolio company, Unomaly, after identifying that its technology could improve Sportradar’s complex real-time data collection services.
Hjalmar Winbladh concludes: “The combination of the Ventures team and EQT is a win-win for the full EQT platform. In a world that is constantly advancing, it is important to not only stay on top of technological changes, but actively stay ahead of upcoming trends to ensure the companies EQT invests in are leading the pack”.