Three years from now, there will be 50 billion digital “things” connected to the Internet. Things at home, in the car, at the office, on the street, basically anywhere, and anytime (yes, even during our private moments) — the IoT is bound to be part of every fiber of our being.
Are you happy with that?
Technological development, while sometimes morally compromised, is essentially a good thing. The trickier question is: Are we all prepared for this?
The wave of change spurred by the IoT revolution is sweeping the world, across physical and cultural boundaries. At the center of the change is data, big data. It is what powers the Internet of Things. In 2020, human beings would have created 44 zettabytes of data volume, ten times greater than what we had in 2014 when the third-wave Internet technologies started invading every home. Imagine what we’ll have beyond 2020.
Indeed, discovering the purpose and use of data for machines had been the turning point in the 21st century, just as harnessing steam for transportation was the turning point of technology in the 18th century. In both cases, technological innovation was applauded and celebrated. But the change that happened next went beyond technological. By and large, it was cultural.
The data that we create represents more than people’s use and interaction with technology, it represents life itself in this moment of history. According to historian Thomas Hughes, “technology and the society develop together.” A change in society happens when technology evolves; alternatively, technology develops just as society progresses.
However, unlike the past waves of technological shift, today’s digital evolution is, at the least, rapid and radical, at the worst, ruthless. It can crush along its path all that fails to catch up. That makes a lot of difference and is something we need to take seriously if we are to wield big data, AI, robotics, IoT and all things digital to work for societal transformation.
Understandably, change is often met with resistance and skepticism. But the digital revolution is never about making lives difficult for those who reject it, it is about making lives better for the people who created it. It leads to a change in lifestyle, in business, in the way we do things in levels that were unimaginable for our ancestors.
What should a cultural shift look like today? For businesses, the challenge is clear: creating a culture that is open to innovation and using the appropriate tools to support innovative goals. In short, a culture of agility, where people does not think twice about change.
As the cliché goes, change is the only permanent thing in this world. Culture is about the people, and the ways by which it wields technology to support its existence. To survive, we need to change the culture of doing things along the digital path now.