Drumbeat gets louder as inflection point gains credibility, adherents and momentum toward 2025. “The capabilities and costs associated with deploying advanced industrial robotics are reaching an inflection point, and large-scale deployment will drive significant changes in the manufacturing cost competitiveness of the major export economies.” - The Boston Consulting Group
There’s that term again: inflection point
During our half-day robotics session at the Consumer Electronics Show 2015, Jibo’s Cynthia Breazeal talked about it in regard to consumer robotics; at the same session, Singularity University’s Rob Nail tracked it on a graph for the audience, describing what it all means for the near-term progress of the robotics industry. Later that January, during our Investing in Robotics webcast, the Foundry Group’s Brad Feld enthused about its effect on startups, incubators and innovation; while, during the same webcast, CLSA Americas Jeremie Capron reiterated the inflection point’s double-digit ramble through the annual $100-billion world of global automation.
Most of us first met up with the arrival of the inflection point in The Second Machine Age, as its authors, Andy McAfee and Erik Brynjolfsson, dropped anchor off its shores and gave us an insider’s tour. The Boston Consulting Group (BCG), after a deep dive through the statistics, has now surfaced with an enlightening report that quantifies much of the inflection point’s recent surge. Using those numbers they then craft a fascinating look ahead to the coming decade as the inflection point takes off.
Although the BCG report itself won’t be out until later in the year, its authors have released enough of a pre-publication teaser that it actually amounts to a chunky precis of what’s to come in their full report. Take a glance at the BCG chart above. You can actually see where the inflection point first begins its rise - late 2013. Just about the time that Google scooped up eight leading-edge robotics companies. Coincidence? Or did Google see the inflection point arriving and jump to get itself into play?
Then cast your eye up the chart’s incline toward 2025: that’s nothing short of amazing!
The BCG forecast is quite heady in calling for global robotics installations to increase at a compound annual rate of approximately ten percent over the coming decade. That tops the forecasts for China’s entire economy!
A harbinger of what the full report might reveal when it finally does arrive BCG posted in January: Why Advanced Manufacturing Will Boost Productivity. That article keys the rise in productivity attributable to the “following five technological tools [that] have the greatest potential to influence the manufacturing landscape and improve productivity in the years ahead.”
Topping that list is autonomous robots:
“A new generation of automation systems links industrial robots with control systems through information technology. New robotic and automation systems equipped with sensors and standardized interfaces are beginning to complement - and, in some cases, eliminate - human labor in many processes. This could enable manufacturers to cost-effectively produce items at smaller scale and to improve their ability to enhance quality.”
Also at our half-day robotics session at the Consumer Electronics Show was Alison Sander, director of the Center for Sensing & Mining the Future at The Boston Consulting Group. One chart in her presentation typifies the rise in robotics along all of its fronts: it seems that all boats are rising.