The technology industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation. Activity is driven by the rising demand for enhanced transparency, security, and efficiency in contract processes, increasing adoption of digital transformation initiatives across industries, and growing complexity of global business operations and the need for compliance with diverse regulatory frameworks. The growing importance of technologies such as blockchain, automation, and artificial intelligence, further amplify the market growth. In the last three years alone, there have been over 4.1 million patents filed and granted in the technology industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Innovation in technology: digital contract governance. Buy the report here.

However, not all innovations are equal and nor do they follow a constant upward trend. Instead, their evolution takes the form of an S-shaped curve that reflects their typical lifecycle from early emergence to accelerating adoption, before finally stabilizing and reaching maturity.

Identifying where a particular innovation is on this journey, especially those that are in the emerging and accelerating stages, is essential for understanding their current level of adoption and the likely future trajectory and impact they will have.

190+ innovations will shape the technology industry

According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which plots the S-curve for the technology industry using innovation intensity models built on over 1.5 million patents, there are 190+ innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.

Within the emerging innovation stage, network-on-a-chip, in-memory computing, and aural exciters are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. Electron beam lithography, OLED pixel compensation circuits, and PCI power management are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas are capacitive touch panels and emergency communications network, which are now well established in the industry.

Innovation S-curve for the technology industry

Digital contract governance is a key innovation area in technology

Digital contract governance involves utilizing blockchain technology for the creation, execution, and enforcement of smart contracts in a secure and decentralized manner. Smart contracts, coded to automatically enact the terms of an agreement when specific predefined conditions are met, are the centerpiece. By harnessing blockchain, this approach amplifies transparency, immutability, and security, removing the necessity for intermediaries and instilling confidence in the contract execution process.

GlobalData’s analysis also uncovers the companies at the forefront of each innovation area and assesses the potential reach and impact of their patenting activity across different applications and geographies. According to GlobalData, there are 430+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established technology companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of digital contract governance.

Key players in digital contract governance – a disruptive innovation in the technology industry

‘Application diversity’ measures the number of applications identified for each patent. It broadly splits companies into either ‘niche’ or ‘diversified’ innovators.   

‘Geographic reach’ refers to the number of countries each patent is registered in. It reflects the breadth of geographic application intended, ranging from ‘global’ to ‘local’.  

Patent volumes related to digital contract governance

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance 83 Unlock Company Profile
Royal Bank of Canada 37 Unlock Company Profile
eBay 31 Unlock Company Profile
Siemens 57 Unlock Company Profile
JPMorgan Chase 67 Unlock Company Profile
Alibaba Group 1199 Unlock Company Profile
Hitachi 37 Unlock Company Profile
Akamai Technologies 42 Unlock Company Profile
Overstock.com 87 Unlock Company Profile
Bank of America 67 Unlock Company Profile
The Toronto-Dominion Bank 67 Unlock Company Profile
Nokia 51 Unlock Company Profile
Panasonic 29 Unlock Company Profile
Sony Group 82 Unlock Company Profile
Advanced New Technologies 525 Unlock Company Profile
Worldline 47 Unlock Company Profile
IBM 266 Unlock Company Profile
Walmart 48 Unlock Company Profile
NEC 71 Unlock Company Profile
Intel 49 Unlock Company Profile
Ripple Labs 32 Unlock Company Profile
Coinplug 92 Unlock Company Profile
Digital Asset 36 Unlock Company Profile
SICPA 31 Unlock Company Profile
nChain 1077 Unlock Company Profile
Algorand 48 Unlock Company Profile
Inveniam Capital Partners 61 Unlock Company Profile
R3 37 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Among the companies innovating in digital contract governance, Alibaba is one of the leading patents filers. The company’s patents are aimed at developing techniques, systems, and devices, encompassing computer code stored on media, for modifying information within a blockchain. One of these techniques involves receiving requests to modify multiple data elements within one or more blockchains and effecting the changes accordingly. The other prominent patent filers in the space include nChain and I(IBM.

In terms of application diversity, eBay leads the pack, while Panasonic and IBM stood in second and third positions, respectively. By means of geographic reach, nChain held the top position, followed by Alibaba and Overstock.com.

Digital contract governance ensures secure, transparent, and efficient handling of agreements, reducing the risk of errors and disputes. Moreover, it enables remote collaboration, streamlines compliance with regulatory frameworks, and enhances overall trust in contract processes. By eliminating intermediaries and introducing decentralized, self-executing smart contracts, digital contract governance optimizes efficiency, reduces costs, and paves the way for a more agile and competitive business environment.

To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the technology industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Technology.

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GlobalData, the leading provider of industry intelligence, provided the underlying data, research, and analysis used to produce this article.

GlobalData’s Patent Analytics tracks patent filings and grants from official offices around the world. Textual analysis and official patent classifications are used to group patents into key thematic areas and link them to specific companies across the world’s largest industries.