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5 Critical Factors Driving Today’s Technological Revolution



March 29, 2018

5 Critical Factors Driving Today’s Technological Revolution Insights from Kiran Shankar, Managing Director, RRD

RRD recently concluded its first-ever Data Artistry Tournament with Gramener and in partnership with NASSCOM in Chennai, India on March 17th, 2018.

Kiran Shankar, Managing Director, RRD Global Outsourcing delivered opening remarks where he discussed those factors most responsible for today’s advanced rate of technological advancements. This article is part one of a two part feature.

Data Artistry in the Digital Age

Every generation believes to some extent that it lives within a special moment in history. But there is something so extraordinary about the exponential rate of technological development today that there is no doubt we are in the midst of a true revolution.

Heraclitus, a Greek philosopher who lived around 2,500 years ago, first observed, “The only thing that is constant is change". I suspect he would be left utterly speechless at the scale and pace of change the world has experienced in the past 100 years—not to mention the past 10 years.

And we know the pace of change is only going to increase and rapidly. Welcome or not, tomorrow’s speed of change will make today look like a slow crawl.

Let’s look at five of the most important factors driving this accelerating change.

1. COMPUTATION

In 1965, Gordon Moore (cofounder of Intel®) predicted computer chips would double in power and halve in cost every 18 to 24 months. What became known as Moore’s Law turned out to be accurate, and today affordable computer chips contain a billion or more transistors spaced just nanometers apart.

That means computers can do exponentially more calculations per second than they could thirty, twenty, or ten years ago—and at a dramatically lower cost. This in turn means we can generate a lot more information, and use computers for all kinds of applications they wouldn’t have been able to handle in the past.

Just over the past two years, the increasing cheapness of computer processing power has crossed a crucial milestone in enabling the widespread use and distribution of artificial intelligence and desktop automation.

2. CONVERGENCE

Powered with previously unknown levels of computing power, a host of other technological advances and cultural shifts are converging in ways we couldn’t have imagined a couple of decades ago. As new technologies advance, the interactions between various subsets of those technologies create new opportunities. These resonate with each other and accelerate the pace of change much more than any single technology can on its own.

Advanced computer processing power, the internet, a global workforce, big data, machine learning, cognitive bots, ecommerce, hyper product customization, marketing plans for n=1, and so on, are all the products of separate but related trends that in turn enable entirely new definitions of what is possible. In other words, the reason it feels like everything is changing is because everything is indeed changing.

3. INTERFACE REVOLUTION

Technology is becoming more accessible even to the most non-tech savvy among us. The internet was once the domain of scientists and coders, but these days anyone can make their own web page, and browsers make those pages easily searchable. Now, interfaces are exposing areas like robotics, advanced analytics, machine learning and even 3D printing to casual users. And this is the hallmark of a true revolution—it involves and impacts all members of society.

This means that you don’t need to know how to code to 3D print an attachment for your phone. You won’t need to understand statistics to perform a machine learning analysis of a marketing plan. If you want you can sit tight and wait. Eventually, the technology will get up on its own and come to you!

We’re going from mind to materialization and from intentionality to immediate implication. The path from vision to actual implementation has never been shorter or easier.

4. CONNECTIVITY

Today there are about three billion people around the world connected to the internet—that’s up from 1.8 billion in 2010. But projections show that by 2025 there will be eight billion people connected. This is thanks to a race between tech billionaires to wrap the Earth in the internet. For example, Elon Musk’s SpaceX has plans to launch a network of thousands of satellites to get the job done, while Google’s Project Loon is using giant polyethylene balloons for the task.

These projects will enable five billion new minds to come online, and those minds will have access to exponential technologies via interface moments. Hard to believe, but the era of digital connectivity has just begun.

5. SENSORS

There is a prediction that after we establish a 5G network with speeds of 10–100 Gbps, a proliferation of sensors will follow. Trends indicate that by 2030, we’re heading towards a world with 100 billion sensors collecting data amongst us.

The global economy is experiencing digital transformation on a seismic scale. Soon every company is going to become a digital native technology company - or cease to exist. Amid this shift, many new and traditional businesses are entering the digital world lacking adequate experience, awareness and skills to effectively navigate their companies. During this rapid revolution, transformation and innovation need to both move at speed and scale.

And, data is the fuel.

Data is to this century what electricity was for the previous one. Today we generate more than 200 million daily tweets, 300 billion daily emails, and load about a hundred terabytes of data on Facebook, every day.

Exponential network and computation technologies (i.e. AI, IoT, blockchain, autonomous vehicles and the internet) are expected to generate more data over the next five years than our current existing storage capacity.

The IoT network alone—which is projected to consist of over 50 million devices in 2020—will generate 600 zettabytes of information. That’s 100x our current storage capacity of 6 zettabytes.

This concludes Part I of this feature story. Stay tuned for Part II, where Kiran will discuss why data artistry is critical in today’s digital age and the motivation behind the inaugural 2018 Data Artistry Tournament from RRD and Gramener in partnership with NASSCOM.

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