Bringing emerging technologies into sharper focus

Investments in new technologies can create competitive advantage.

The speed of technology innovation means businesses must be continuously on the lookout for what new developments can offer and what risks they present.

This is no easy task given the exponential growth in available technologies, but it is important if you are to maintain a clear view over solutions that may impact your industry. While investing in the most relevant technologies can create significant competitive advantage, failing to do so can hinder sustainable and profitable growth, as well as enabling competitors and new market entrants to steal the lead. So, how do you decide where to look, in which technologies to invest, and when to do so?

The past year has reminded us how we cannot take the status quo for granted. It has highlighted how even the most familiar habits, such as commuting to work, can be turned upside down at short notice. Yet, even with the unthinkable, we always stay focused on what lies ahead. This is particularly the case when looking at emerging technologies.

The expanding potential of technologies

Some technologies clearly have huge potential and are already being developed at scale. Think of blockchain technology, or how elements of artificial intelligence (AI) such as cognitive techniques and machine learning are being adopted by a wide range of industries from pharmaceuticals to engineering.

Think of the rapid implementation of the 5G network, which is a (r)evolution from 4G, and how the Internet of Things is reinvigorating parts of the fast-moving consumer goods industry and providing solutions to enhance sustainability. Or how smart data analytics is helping retail or life sciences businesses to achieve greater focus and change the customer experience. The list goes on.

Executives’ priorities for change

Knowing where to focus is not purely a Swiss concern, of course. Businesses around the world need to translate developments into implications for their own activities.

That is why KPMG International surveyed 900 business and technology executives at Global 2000 enterprises last year. We found that:

  • Almost 60 percent of executives said the pandemic has given a fresh impetus to accelerate digital transformation
  • More than half of respondents cited migration to the Cloud as an absolute priority
  • Two-thirds believe the combined use of emerging technologies is more beneficial than using any technology in isolation, with AI-powered and cloud-enabled being a common foundation.

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The Swiss landscape – fostering innovation

This global perspective is extremely relevant to Switzerland given the world-leading positions held by many of its industries. In addition, Switzerland was ranked the world’s most innovative country in the World Intellectual Property Organization’s (WIPO) Global Innovation Index 2020 – with businesses such as Facebook, Google and Amazon being attracted to Switzerland’s climate of innovation. Efforts to foster a technologically innovative environment have already yielded considerable success, such as:

  • The emergence of hubs such as Crypto Valley. In the space of just a few years, the canton of Zug has emerged as a major blockchain hub, home to more than 380 blockchain businesses. Start-ups such as SEBA Bank, with whom we carried out a fascinating interview for this publication, Casper Labs with its open source blockchain, and Decentric which solves challenges in sharing and collaborating with the most sensitive data, are among the Swiss start-ups that show great promise.
  • Renowned centers of learning and research such as ETH Zürich and EPFL in Lausanne are internationally recognized in sources such as The Times Higher Education and QS World University Rankings. ETH has 19 Masters programs in technology and seven in computer science, and ETH Zürich alumni have founded many start-ups including AI-based strategic sourcing platform Archlet, and aerospace services provider Voliro.
  • A sizeable number of well-established businesses include Fintechs such as Avaloq, which was acquired last year by NEC for USD 2.2 billion. Cybersecurity firms are also emerging, such as Threatray, Futurae,, Exeon, Anapaya and Xorlab. UPC’s acquisition of Sunrise meanwhile formed a national challenger that can boost investment and drive competition.

Moving forward – selecting and deploying new technologies

Whether you are just beginning to explore emerging technologies or you are revisiting your approach... Or you have the fundamental strategy in place but need to accelerate its implementation... The following articles share our perspectives and experiences relating to six of the most relevant emerging technologies in Switzerland:

As you consider how you might deploy emerging technologies to optimize your business or operating model, or enhance your customer experience, it is important to stay alert to the possibilities. Remaining aware of technology innovations and developing a digital roadmap should guide your journey – helping you coordinate initiatives rather than introduce isolated efforts. Together with expert advice from our digital transformation and innovation experts, you can ensure that your selection, investment in, and implementation of emerging technology developments directly contribute to your sustainable growth and competitive advantage.

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We want to help answer questions. Questions that are currently being asked and questions that may not arise for several days or weeks. Please do not hesitate to contact us – our experts are ready to support you with advice and assistance.

Mark Meuldijk

Partner, Data & AI

KPMG Switzerland

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