Which technologies are driving the tech industry in 2020? It’s been an interesting and unexpected start to the year, but the CompTIA (Computing Technology Industry Assn.) Emerging Technology Community set out to provide some perspective on emerging technologies with its third annual top 10 ranking. The 2020 ranking differs slightly from the 2019 list; what does this mean, if anything?

For 2020, the top 10 emerging technologies, according to the CompTIA Emerging Technology Community are AI (artificial intelligence), 5G, IoT (Internet of Things), serverless computing, biometrics, AR (augmented reality)/VR (virtual reality), blockchain, robotics, NLP (natural language processing), and quantum computing. For comparison, the 2019 list was as follows: IoT, AI, 5G, serverless computing, blockchain, robotics, biometrics, 3D printing, AR/VR, and drones. The top three technologies (AI, 5G, and IoT) stayed the same, just changed order. New to the list this year were NLP and quantum computing, replacing 3D printing and drones in the top 10 from last year.

Artificial intelligence is certainly going to have an important impact on the near future. Grand View Research projects the AI market will reach almost $391 billion by 2025, while ResearchAndMarkets predicts the AI in IoT devices market will surpass $105 billion in North America alone. The CompTIA Emerging Technology Community put AI in the top spot this year because it expects AI technologies to have the most significant short-term impact of all the emerging technologies on the list. And while the team behind this ranking clearly sees the transformative potential in 5G, putting in the second highest-ranking spot, they suggest 5G’s effects will take slightly longer to take hold and pan out.

AI also deserves the top spot because it will be integrated into an increasing number of innovative healthcare solutions. MarketsandMarkets expects the global AI in healthcare market will grow from just under $5 billion in 2020 to just over $45 billion in 2026—a huge increase. Part of the spike in demand and innovation is a response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has made it clear how important various IoT-enabled healthcare solutions can be. Biometrics and natural language processing, which both moved up in rank for 2020, could also play a role in healthcare solutions.

Biometrics was in the spotlight long before COVID, though, both because of its implications for healthcare and also for security. TechSci Research’s data indicates the global biometrics market will hit $21 billion by 2020, with the highest demand coming from the Asia-Pacific region. Governments are boosting this emerging tech by investing in solutions like electronic passports and identity cards and biometrics-enabled driver’s licenses. It’s a similar story for NLP technologies, which were certainly already in the spotlight pre-COVID and pre-2020, even though they’re new to this particular top-10 list. The use of NLP to improve customer service was already a key growth trend, but it will probably experience accelerated growth thanks to pandemic-related changes to the workforce.

So far, the key difference between 2019 and 2020 has been the global pandemic, and whether the CompTIA Emerging Technology Community was taking this into consideration or not when defining its top 10 list for 2020, the shifts in technologies’ positions seem to reflect it. Will next year be 5G’s year to top the list of influential emerging technologies?

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