Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) is the largest industrial R&D sector, demonstrates the strongest projected growth and is the future. The top five ICT R&D
companies have a combined R&D investment for 2018 of
more than $82 billion—up more than 11% from 2017. That’s
more than the total R&D of every country in the world except
South Korea, Germany, Japan, China and the U.S. It is more
than the expected R&D spending by the U.S. Dept. of Defense. And what’s more, it is likely understated for 2018.
These five companies, seen in the Table, are the largest R&D
spenders on the planet and they are all associated with ICT
technologies. They are all within the Fortune 50, they have
combined 2017 revenues of nearly $600 billion and their
CEOs are listed as some of the richest people on the planet as
well—including Bezos, Page/Brin, Krzanich, Gates (ret.) and
Cook—all of whom firmly believe that the federal government should invest more in R&D.
The technologies that these and other ICT companies are
working on are having and will have a huge impact on society.
Amazon is the global leader on cloud computing services and
makes more than 40% of its profit from it. And while these ICT
leaders categorically state that the federal government must invest more in ICT technologies—and in artificial intelligence (AI)
technologies in particular—to avoid losing American leadership,
they are not waiting. These companies are continuing their R&D investments and it is they,
not the federal government, who will decide
how to use them.
While the companies shown here are currently large global and U.S. players in the ICT
marketplace, China and India are expected to
become cloud powerhouses in the Asia-Pacific
region with CAGR of 27% and 24%, respectively, through 2020. Government-led cloud
initiatives to inspire innovation are the driving
forces in these countries. The technology
leaders in this region include China Telecom,
China Mobile, Tata Communications, Tencent,
Hitachi, Huawei and NxtGen. There is currently no market leader in either China or
India. IBM (currently 3 in cloud computing
behind Amazon and Microsoft) is partnering
with India’s Reliance Communications to build
their services in the region.
According to a report from Price Water-houseCoopers, the next five years in the
aerospace/defense industry (see section page
15) will be dominated and driven by ICT
and digitization technologies. Digitization is
currently involved in 49% of A/D’s product
development work, including R&D. In five
years—by 2022—digitization will be integrally involved in 90%
of the product development work.
Globally, R&D in the overall ICT industry is expected to grow
about 4.6% in 2018 and about 3% in the U.S. A recent report in
Nature reveals that millions of jobs will be eliminated, created
and needed with the disruptions caused by ICT technologies
over the next ten years. Understanding their implications will
require more research.
Industrial R&D Spenders – Information and
Amazon $16.085 $19.217 $22.398
Alphabet/Google $13.948 $16.111 $18.154
Intel $12.740 $13.493 $14.187
Microsoft $12.500 $12.942 $13.384
Apple $10.495 $12.365 $14.235
TotalTop5 $65.768 $74.128 $82.358
2016 Global 2016 U.S. 2017 Global 2017 U.S. 2018 Global 2018 U.S.
Information & Communication R&D Spending
Source: R&D Magazine Survey 2017
Source: R&D Magazine Survey 2017