What’s in Store for Technology?

What’s in Store for Technology? We live in a truly connected world where the largest taxi company Uber owns no vehicles, the most popular media owner, Facebook, creates no content and the largest accommodation provider AirBnB, owns no real estate

In order to fully understand this, we have to consider how the mobile phone has found its way into every aspect of our society and the fact that we can no longer imagine a way to live without it.

We are on the brink of a new revolution, where everything around us will be connected. I have noticed certain IT megatrends which have emerged in recent years and I’d like to explore them further so that we can better understand the modern world in which we live.

How do we come to terms with the dangers and the challenges facing modern society whilst reaping the benefits of this interconnected and globalised world?

 Aging is disastrous for productivity

Our society is aging thanks to improved healthcare, we are expected to live far beyond what we could have imagined 50 years ago. As a result, we are heading for a demographic nightmare.

We will therefore be busy caring for our parents which will in turn impact our productivity levels and ability to contribute to the workforce in the same way as before. People are working much longer, and companies are heavily investing in their employees to keep their physical and mental health in a good state.

An obvious solution is the evolution of automation and the use of robots in the home and workplace to help fill those ever-growing gaps. We know that automation, and robots in particular, have been placed in jobs at dirty and dangerous locations such as Fukushima, to clean up areas no humans can access yet. However, the role they will play in the future will change due to our aging society.  We will have to use robots in industries where there is likely to be a shortage in skilled labour such as construction, farming and truck drivers.

But what role does the robot play in the future of our workplace? It is likely that we will use collaborative robots (CoBots) who interact with humans in a shared workspace and are designed to counterbalance our dwindling workforce by carrying out repetitive tasks that don’t need to be done by a human. However, in order to fully adopt ‘CoBots’ we have to change our attitude towards automation and robots, as well as their new role within our lives.

 Experience generation

Whilst our society as a whole is aging and at the same time trying to come to terms with the consequences of our mass consumption economy, we have noticed that younger generations are more inclined to spend their disposable income on experiences rather than possessions.

The must-haves for previous generations such as – cars, luxury bags, TVs – simply aren’t as important for today’s young consumer. Millennials (those born between 1980 and 2000) are either putting off big purchases or avoiding them altogether. So why doesn’t it make sense to buy ‘stuff’ anymore?

Millennials are choosing to spend their money on travel and exploring the world thanks to cheap air travel and the choice of affordable accommodation abroad. This is where sharing economy services like AirBnB are fulfilling the needs of young people. This change in behavioural habits, has created more demands on organisations as young people look for ways to live efficiently and sustainably. For example, buying property and renting it to others, is now the new norm.

Technology will reign: The AI powered society

As mentioned at the beginning, the advance of the smartphone and cheap highspeed access to the internet, is giving us unparalleled access to data, anywhere, anytime.

This is evident even today. As consumers we are able to track the spread of the Coronavirus on a day by day, hour by hour basis. Something that even 10 years ago only would have been available to agencies of governments is now at the fingertips of every citizen.

This democratisation of data also has a side effect. Our increasing need to control a world that is filled with information overload, to separate fact from fiction is growing every day. As disruption and uncertainty increase, organisations and governments will need to respond adequately and as fast as possible in real-time. This will naturally lead to an adoption of advanced analytics and a predominance of algorithms, especially in Artificial Intelligence (AI)

AI applicable models are data hungry and therefore mainly stored in the Cloud. But for AI to truly advance into other domains, it needs to crossover from Cloud to the physical world, or as a technologist would say, to the Edge.

Only when we truly connect everything and bring together data, will third party applications and edge be able to take advantage, and enhance their offering. We will move from just gathering data, to facilitating data insights – giving companies the ability to operationalise data, spot new insights to create a better customer experience.

A huge digital transformation is underway. We will see huge attitudinal shifts towards technology – mostly towards the increase in the use of robots, to respond and provide solutions, to some of society’s major changes. From demographic changes to creating a sharing economy that can distribute resources efficiently – these are no waves of disruption, these are tsunamis!

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