We’re living through a technology revolution – we just haven’t named it yet.
We are all familiar with the Industrial Revolution, right? We were taught about it at school. But I always think it’s interesting to consider that it wasn’t just a short moment in time. Not a few days, months or years but 80 years of change from 1760-1840 when the introduction of steam power and the first mechanical industries changed the way that people lived and worked forever. It was a lifetime of change. I wonder if people at the time were aware that they were living in quite such a significant moment?
By comparison, there are also many technological transformations happening today, but because we are living through them, they seem harder to pinpoint and their significance is not yet quite so clear. For example, are you old enough to remember the first time you sent a fax, an email or a text message? Or when you bought your first item online, or scanned your own shopping in the supermarket? Or when you first saw, rode in or bought your own electric car? We talk today about the Internet Generation and Industry 4.0 but when historians look back at this period, I wonder how they will ultimately describe it?
Whatever the label they award to this period, it will be noted for significant change across many business sectors. In Media and Entertainment there is an explosion in demand for content and technology such as remote PTZ cameras and next generation IP-based production platforms are putting high quality content creation capabilities in the hands of the masses. Immersive visual experiences are changing the way we are entertained at venues and events and changing the way that we learn about history and the arts at museums.
In Retail, the way that we shop is subtly changing. Interactive displays that can tailored to our specific requirements. Electronic Shelf Labels that have the potential to dynamically change the price of goods based on demand or special offers tailored to the likes of those in the store. The introduction of the latest Smartlockers, that can store frozen, ambient or even hot goods for our automatic collection.
In Supply Chain and Logistics, Artificial Intelligence and Deep Learning applications are being used to fully automate and streamline processes, so that stock levels are monitored around the clock and automatically re-ordered as needed or delayed. Warehouse workers and drivers are connected to the system using mobile computing devices to ensure goods are chosen at the right time, loaded in the most space efficient way and delivered via the most efficient routes – all while being constantly monitored to ensure the goods are transported at the right temperature.
In Manufacturing, Industry 4.0 is becoming a reality with the deployment of the sensors, cameras and mobile computing devices that use AI to automate every element of the production process, tracking and quality control. The fully autonomous factory may still be some years away but all the building blocks are now there.
In the Public Sector, real-time connectivity through mobile computing devices is helping to change the way we provide health and emergency care. Using this technology, ambulance crews can relay vital patient information in real-time to doctors at the hospital, saving critical seconds. The same technology is being used to enable police officers to spend more time on the streets and less time on administration and fire officers to reach and deal with critical incidents more effectively.
In Education, we are using technology to change the way we learn by enabling access to teachers and content from any location through hybrid learning solutions and by making education a more collaborative learning experience using presentation systems, projectors and interactive displays.
Technology is certainly fundamentally changing the way we work, live and learn in incredible ways. We may be in the midst of another technological revolution, but we just haven’t found the right name for it yet. I’ll leave that one to the historians to decide.