Connectivity Defined the Past Decade — Interoperability Will Shape the Next


A decade ago, in 2013, Amazon counted around a thousand robots across its fulfilment warehouses.

That same year, tech giant Google spent more on headcount and people costs than it did compute and data.

Today, 10 years later, the fleet of robots powering Amazon’s warehouses numbers around 750,000 — and Google, now Alphabet, spends more on compute costs than it does its employee base.

It is hard to see those numbers reversing.

That’s because life in a connected economy like ours is driven by investments in promising innovations.

After all, it wasn’t until 2013 that the Federal Reserve System’s “Payment System Improvement – Consultation Paper” was published, leading to 2015’s “Strategies for Improving the U.S. Payment System” white paper and a slew of groundbreaking innovations across payment technologies emphasizing speed, security, and convenience in financial transactions.

And for going on 15 years, PYMNTS has been tracking the remarkable changes, driven by rapid adoption of technology and evolving end-user expectations, that have reshaped the global economy across the ten pillars that drive global economic growth: how people live, work, shop, bank, eat, stay well, have fun, travel, stay connected and live — and, of course, how they pay and are paid.

As we enter 2024, the possibilities ahead are as endless as they are exciting — and at the center of the growth flywheel remain innovative advances in the way that businesses and individuals transact and conduct their business.

See also: What Electric Vehicles, Impossible Foods and Buy Now, Pay Later Teach Us About Early Adopters

The Technology Is Here, It’s Time to Activate It

The measure of time is dependent on the ways in which its passage is marked. Take for example the rise of generative artificial intelligence (AI). Having been commercialized for just barely a year, the innovation already feels like it has been around forever.

And other innovations, including NFC (Near Field Communication) enabled contactless payments, mobile wallets, Peer-to-Peer (P2P) payment services; even things like open banking, embedded finance, and instant transactions; are also all quickly moving from cutting-edge to back-pocket familiarity.

The rapid pace of advancement is being fueled by a compelling intersection of end-user behavioral expectations around convenience, speed, and security, as well as the scalability of today’s most future-fit technical capabilities and compute resources.

As Billtrust Senior Vice President, Data Analytics and AI Ahsan Shah told PYMNTS about today’s most promising innovations, “finding the low-hanging fruit allows you to build the infrastructure and get confidence in proven wins. From there, you can expand.”

Shah was speaking about AI, but his words whole true across most innovations being brought to market.

And as that infrastructure continues to be built on the back of small successes, it is crucial that the capacity for interoperability is put into place.

“Money’s a good indicator of where the innovation is happening,” Guillermo Vicandi, CEO and co-founder of Bnext, told PYMNTS. “And pretty much all the money right now is going to infrastructure in interoperability.”

Read more: Finding The Digital Economy’s Product Market FIT

From Connected to Cooperative

While the rapid rise in digital connectivity over the past decade brought about remarkable advancements, it also presented challenges. Siloed ecosystems, proprietary standards, and a lack of interoperability hindered the seamless flow of data and functionality between devices, platforms, organizations and even industries.

As a result, end-users and enterprises often found themselves grappling with fragmented experiences and limited choices.

As we step into the next decade, the spotlight is on interoperability — the ability of different systems and devices to work together seamlessly. Interoperability is the bridge that connects diverse technologies, allowing them to share data, functionality and services. The goal is to break down silos, fostering an environment where users can enjoy a cohesive and integrated experience across various devices and platforms.

Already, open banking is helping serve as a prime example of interoperability in action by allowing different financial institutions to share data securely, enabling users to access a broader range of financial services and manage their accounts more efficiently.

And when it comes to building for tomorrow’s world, as PYMNTS CEO Karen Webster wrote, startups, investors and companies need to think carefully about the consumers who show up first to try their product, how to read their signals as they use it, and how to size the mature market in which those consumers live today.

But the future, driven by an interconnected world where devices, systems, and services collaborate effortlessly, enriching our lives in ways previously unimaginable, sure looks bright.