​From Steam To IoT: Talking About A Revolution

Are we on the cusp of a convergence between the physical, digital and human world?


As an ardent Liverpool FC supporter, some words from manager Jurgen Klopp caught my attention recently.

Reflecting on the need for a more intuitive approach to tackle his side’s goal drought, he announced: 'To change things you must make the right decisions. For the right decisions, you have to collect the right information.'

He’s right of course and it’s a mantra that resonates pretty strongly as we embrace digital transformation and gear up for the fourth industrial revolution.

We’re on the cusp of convergence between the physical, digital and human world. Machines will be able to talk to each other as well as humans as the Fourth Industrial Revolution edges closer to reality and we brace ourselves for a hyper-connected culture.

Indeed, this fusion of technologies is set to create an unprecedented level of integration, capable of disrupting almost every industry in every country, as artificial intelligence and the IoT drive greater levels of automation. Exciting times, maybe, but not everyone is sold on a more automated future, with less of the human touch and soul. Indeed, the debate that focuses on man against machine remains a well-trodden path and with good reason.

I think that’s why negotiating this tightrope will be at the heart of discussion as we look at how best to empower people to take control of all this innovation and technology at their fingertips and stay in the driving seat in terms of shaping future development.

New technologies and platforms that can accelerate collaboration and share on-demand from analytics to the cloud, have a central role to play. They are the tools and innovation that drive experimentation and enable more people to be involved, all while creating entirely new ways of consuming goods and services.

Of course, digital transformation is all about potential and opportunities and most critically of all­­—seizing them. We can have the tools in place, but ultimately it’s about how we harness them that really counts - a look at Liverpool’s woeful conversion rates, despite all the investment up front, is a testament to that.

Having already generated detailed commentary in some high places, most recently at the World Economic Forum in Davos, it’s a theme set to underpin the agenda at several conferences this year.

Indeed, establishing exactly what it entails, what is so revolutionary and why this constitutes a meaningful and distinct progression from the simple digitalization that spawned the Third Industrial Revolution of 1969, is essential if the rewards are to be fully reaped.

Working in the technology space, where ‘revolution’ and ‘transformation’ can become part and parcel of the daily rhetoric, it’s easy to become complacent about the innovations around us or even distinguish between what actually represents a genuine sea change or overstated hype. In this case, however, it is the scope of innovation and compounded by the sheer speed and velocity of technology breakthroughs, which has had no historical precedent that justifies the label.

We are living in a metamorphic time. A cursory glance through the history books confirms that an industrial revolution doesn’t come around too often, once a century in fact. And for many, while the term may still be synonymous with the emergence of steam power of the late 18th century, there is little doubt that future generations will look back at 2016 as an equally game-changing period of history.

Stripped to its bare bones, it’s a development based on connectedness. Data analytics and IoT act as the glue making the integration possible and actionable data becomes critical to leveraging the opportunities.

Pharma small

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