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Gerd’s guide to disruption: the next 5 years (Part 1)

Greetings everyone, on the occassion of the launch of this new site I have decided to resume some more serious blogging activies, at least once every week. I kind of stopped doing this 3 years ago (due to too many speaking gigs and the rise of fast and easy content curation tools such as Twitter and Tumblr), and I really feel like there’s something missing here, so… stay tuned (via RSS?) for my weekly excursions.

Update: download the PDF with all 3 posts: Gerd’s Guide to Disruption 2013

We are entering an era of information tsunamis: mind-boggling global data torrents , all-pervasive social-local-mobile (SoLoMo) connectivity, widespread ‘wikilikean’ transparency expectations (both B2C as well as B2B),  rapid changes in interface technologies (AR, gestures, voice-control, nano-technologies, bionics, AI etc), the hyper-realtime speed of information and media, and of abundant consumer choice in pretty much every sector of commerce and business.

Here are the first 7 trends for your consideration:

1) The end of offline – at least in the technical meaning of that word – is near.  We are becoming a society of always-on, hyper-social and always-findable humans – and this is both very good and very bad. As Sophocles once mentioned to me back when I was an arduous student of greek: “Nothing vast enters the lives of mortals without a curse“.

Being Offline is clearly becoming the new luxury and will become a highly cherished attainment. De-teching, un-plugging and all kinds of ‘digital detox’ remedies will be widespread but sadly for most of us will only bring occasional resprieve from ‘being on the grid’. A new sense of responsibility, and taking care of one-self, will need to develop so that we can learn to cope with information and connectivity overload – much like television or the telephone in the past. But careful: SoLoMo technologies are just so much more addictive:)

2) The global consumerization of IT represents a hugely impactful trend. Consumers are already starting to lead (rather than follow) enterprises in the use of technology such as apps and tablets. ‘Shadow-IT’ is becoming a big issue as professionals are bringing their own devices to work (BYOD), and are now expecting their own company’s technology and products to be as fast and easy-to-use as whatever else they are using, privately.

3) A true revolution in data-input methods is imminent: we are moving from GUI (graphic user interfaces) to NUI (natural user interfaces), from mouse & keyboard to speech, gesture- and yes, even thought-controlled devices or what IBM calles ‘cognitive computing‘. I think that very few computing devices will use ‘traditional’ means of input in less than 10 years. As far as general communications, reading and browsing, and to a large extend shopping and ecommerce is concerned, mobile devices, smart-phones and tablets are already taking over from desktop and laptop computers – and we can expect that trend to only accelerate.  Internet access will be like air or water (i.e. taken for granted but still paid-for ;) and not-for-work computing will shift almost entirely to mobile devices and the mobile Internet. Almost all content will be consumed on mobile devices, first, and multi-platform use of media becomes the global standard.

4) Almost all business – including those in the hereto lesser-impacted B2B sectors such as banking, energy and raw materials – will become socially-driven (especially those based on digital products). Peer to peer recommendations, ratings, endorsements and all kinds of Likeonomics are already widespread but will essentially replace CRM in the near future; the same goes for hiring and general HR needs (witness the rise of LinkedIn as a global HR resources pretty much eliminates the need for traditional headhunters). Since most social business is essentially data- , sharing- and permission-driven (sorry to use that buzz phrase again)  Data is indeed becoming the new oil.  The global and radical empowerment of ‘the people formerly known as consumers’ via cheap, powerful and ubiquitous SoLoMo technologies will be a huge game changer (yes, both an opportunity and threat) – and this will really get cooking when the other 3 Billion in BRICs and CIVETS are coming online. You thought it was confusing now – just give it another 2 years.

5) Very very huge gigantic enormous big data, everywhere. Data levels, depth and sheer frequency will reach previously unimaginable pace and proportions, and anyone / anything having to do with data-mining and management will be in very high demand (watch for the usual snake-oil vendors creeping up like wildfire, as well). The consequence: curation, context, relevance, timeliness and overall sense & meaning-making as well as totally intuitive pattern recognition (i.e. the human part of the data deluge) will become infinitely more important than mere access to lots of information, content or data: meaning will actually trump noise.

6) In the dawning knowledge- and experience society, we are quickly shifting from downloads to flows, and from stuff to bits, both in terms of technology as well as in terms of our user behavior and actual consumption habits. Information is no longer (just) stored and kept for later, rather, it’s accessed and filtered and sifted, when and where and how it’s needed, in realtime, real-place, real-life.  Technology will also move from relying on search, files and pages to reading, understanding and enabling flows and streams (cloud, social, local, mobile). Read more about this topic on Kevin Kelly’s Google+.

7) The Internet of Things, and pervasive machine-to-machine connectivity is becoming very real, very fast. Wireless networks, RFIDs and NFC technologies will seamlessly and ubiquitously connect people (if not their actual brains than their devices) to things to machines, and vice versa, and artificial intelligence and ultra-smart electronic agents will glue all this together. Erisson estimates that 55 Billion devices will be connected in 2015 – obviously this will have huge privacy and ethical implications, as well. Watch these movies:  “Connected” by Tiffany Shlain, “Robot & Frank” and ‘The Joneses” to get a very real glimpse of these trends. The Internet is gradually becoming an extension of our brains; and mobile devices are already our external brains. Is the next stop the actual integration of the Internet in our bodies (Iris implants etc), cyborgs after that… singularity, transhumanism? Not sure what to think of that, really, but… Ray Kurzweil is ready to tell you.

More in next week’s edition.

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