Where We Were Then
Many people can remember when connectivity to the internet wasn’t a couple of taps away from a mobile device. AOL, Ask Jeeves, Yahoo, AltaVista, and Netscape bring back nostalgic memories, along with the familiar dial-up sound. Getting online required time to connect, possibly a second telephone line and a lot of patience.
The struggle of using the internet wasn’t lost on Clifford Stoll. His now famous (or infamous?) article from 1995 predicted that the internet was a passing fad. But, as we sit here today, there is no doubt about the impact the internet has had on the world.
The early floundering with how to use and optimize the internet laid a foundation for new ways to do business. And, this was the birth era of well-known companies such as Amazon and Google.
Where We Are Now
We have massively evolved from the early days of the internet. The rise of social media, e-commerce and marketplaces, app stores, and cloud-powered ecosystems infused with AI and ML has reshaped digital business. Many of these things are so intertwined that it can be tough to see where one ends and the other begins.
The reliance on the internet and the various digital applications has given rise to countless companies and jobs. People have learned new ways to accomplish things that have echoes of long-standing principles. We have learned from the early mistakes of internet usage and have now seen the rollout of data privacy laws, governance models, and ethical AI movements.
Additionally, Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and Bots have taken hold in many enterprises and mid-market companies in many practical ways. The benefits of automation to reduce errors and time-consuming tasks are hitting the bottom line in increased revenues. However, the fear, uncertainty, and doubt (FUD) effect is still a major concern of many people with the rise of bot and automation usage.
This leads to a big question people have, “How do people fit into the digital equation?” Our strong belief with the Acceleration Economy is that it’s “People + Technology”: People plus AI, People plus IoT, People plus Apps, and more. The creativity, insightfulness, and originality that people bring haven’t been matched by anything digital. We are still a long way from something close to this.
Where We Are Headed
While looking back and taking stock of where we are is important, it’s critical that we continually look forward. We can’t change the past, but we can shape the future.
During the pandemic’s height, many companies held to traditional processes and unshifted strategies. Unfortunately, some companies took a negative hit as a result. However, some had diversified solutions and people that allowed them to pivot quickly to change their future.
The pandemic also changed the expectation of consumers from a personal and business sense. Speed and quality of services or products are expected across all people demographics. The caveat here is that consumers now expect on-demand or self-service capabilities. How organizations address these expectations will play heavily into the survivability of their business models.
Additionally, companies need to consider incorporating AI, ML, automation, and security into foundational processes and technology systems. The speed of our economy will continue to accelerate and if companies haven’t adopted some form of these technologies, they will get left behind.
Yes, the future will continue to evolve at a faster pace than we thought possible. But, if we aren’t careful, we will fall into a trap of a false sense of security or complacency.
What’s Being Overlooked?
In the rush to adopt new technology, we subconsciously take something for granted but would be in a world of hurt without it. So, what are we talking about here?
The answer – Optimal Connectivity. Without a good connection from our devices to the internet, we cannot leverage all the benefits and cloud-powered capabilities.
But, wait, there’s more to it than just connecting, right?
We’ve all had that moment – out in the middle of nowhere, without signal. Maybe, at best, we have a single bar at 4G, or a 3G connection. However, we are now seeing everywhere the rise of 5G networks from AT&T, Verizon, and others.
The importance of connectivity has become a major focus of many companies. The compound annual growth rate (CAGR) is expected to hit 46.2% between 2021 and 2028. This growth is fueled by consumer expectations, as mentioned earlier, and the rise of new consumer experiences. Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) have seeped into our shopping experiences. High-quality video calling is expected for business calls using Zoom or Microsoft Teams. Ultra-high-definition (UHD) video streaming is the norm for watching movies and shows on Netflix, Hulu, or Prime Video.
If companies don’t have a strong digital foundation and offer these experiences, people will look elsewhere. And, the keyword here is “experience”. The experience isn’t only about connecting, speed, and quality, but it also impacts the emotions people have when interacting with your products and services. This requires a diversified approach to meet people where they are in their buying or consumer journey.
But, we can’t forget about the users of the technology within these organizations. For example, in manufacturing or field service industries, there is a heavy reliance on hand-held devices. Scanners for inventory tracking, product manufacturing, or shipping are needed to know where products are in the process. Field service workers need information about the equipment they are working on or to complete service maintenance. If they don’t have the connectivity they need, they can’t do their jobs.
Things Continue To Change
Recently, Microsoft announced they will acquire AT&T’s Network Cloud technology. This means that the AT&T 5G mobile technology will leverage Microsoft’s Azure stack. This major announcement shook the tech industry as this showcased Microsoft’s strategic move and investments in the future.
What can we expect from strategic tech moves like this?
The continued growth of the IoT and edge computing markets puts an emphasis on where things are headed. As AI becomes more democratized, edge computing and devices will now have AI capabilities that will reduce the reliance on cloud-based infrastructures. This means that AI will become more purpose-built for device usage at the edge, but it will also align with the company’s security and governance policies.
Additionally, we will see more and more states and countries roll out data privacy regulations. This puts a tighter squeeze on companies to be in compliance and at the same time balance customer experiences. This puts a greater emphasis on the need for a Center of Excellence, governance model, and security foundation.
Optimal connectivity will continue to play a crucial role in our digital world. It’s up to us to frequently review our adaptability to change.