Navigant Research estimates that products, services, and technologies identified in the Neural Grid ecosystem will see their revenue grow by nearly 6% annually through 2025 to more than half a trillion dollars. Five technology segments offer sound investment opportunities today and even greater upside in the longer term:
Connectivity: Fiber, low power wide area technologies, and licensed spectrum solutions (i.e., private 4G, 5G) will be imperative to formation of the Neural Grid. In the meantime, existing connectivity solutions support smart grid deployments occurring today. Connectivity to the billions of grid and energy assets worldwide will present a large and growing market opportunity for decades, although the purpose of that connectivity — and favored networking technologies — will evolve.
Sensing and measurement technologies: Low cost sensors integrated into virtually every element of grid and energy infrastructure will provide the data that allows for analytics and AI to manage every layer of the Neural Grid.
Drones and cloud robotics: When unmanned drones and robots are able to learn via vast stores of data in the cloud and interact seamlessly with humans thanks to natural language processing, they will be able to perform repetitious maintenance and monitoring tasks. They will also have the intelligence to tackle new problems, reduce human error, and keep people safe.
AI: AI takes analytics and the cloud’s ability to store a virtually unlimited arsenal of information, images, and more to allow for machine learning and intelligent automation. Ultimately, cloud-based AI is the brain in the Neural Grid.
Cybersecurity: Ubiquitous connectivity and data collection heighten the already clear need for vigilance with data security for customers, systems, assets, etc. As the Neural Grid forms, widespread, holistic cybersecurity solutions will be critical.
In a nutshell, the Neural Grid takes the world’s largest machine — the grid — and gives it a brain. It replaces dumb network assets (poles and wires) with intelligent, multifunction infrastructure that interacts with cloud-based intelligence for energy and non-energy purposes.
Principal Research Analyst, Navigant Research