Technology: the future is now



Everything from the iPhone completely transforming the world’s idea of what a mobile phone is and what it can do to Wi-Fi helping make us the mobile society that we are today. Something Ofcom recently confirmed with its research revealing 75% of adults use the internet ‘on the go’ on a smartphone, portable computer or handheld device and this rose to 97% for those aged 16 to 24.

It’s safe to say that all technology has evolved beyond what was initially expected of it and this is predominantly down to the fact that we as business owners, consumers and employees are evolving too. We want to do more, faster and better and the breakthroughs of the past decade all show a growing demand for enhanced, more flexible and transparent experiences.

Many of today’s workforces may not even remember the days when a mobile phone was just a phone yet more and more people spend the majority of their time online via their mobile than any other device. This all means that organisations have a growing opportunity not only to connect with their customers and users in a more meaningful way for example through data-driven insight, but can also reach out to new potential customers more effectively.

This is digital disruption and life/work -style evolution. Innovation has and will continue to be constant and it is driven by people and enabled by technology.

Wired founder and author of “What Technology Wants,” Kevin Kelly, summed up the demands this evolution is driving very well, saying: “Technology wants what life wants: Increasing efficiency; Increasing opportunity; Increasing emergence; Increasing complexity; Increasing diversity; Increasing specialisation; Increasing ubiquity; Increasing freedom; Increasing mutualism; Increasing beauty; Increasing sentience; Increasing structure; Increasing evolvability.” This is what’s driving the evolution of business and its environment. People and technology are now intrinsically linked in terms of experience and objective and if they don’t work intuitively together, they won’t work at all.

The problem with tech evolution is that it’s under our control and, unfortunately it’s completely driven by what we want as opposed to what’s adaptive. Tech evolution is driven by what companies decide to sell us based on what they believe we’ll pay for. This is why I believe it’s more important than ever for businesses to understand how and why people, industry and markets are evolving and developing to be able to provide complete outcome focused mobile-led digital services.

The technology industry has a duty to cater to every aspect of our lives rather than just work or personal needs. It has the means to deliver something far more compelling than “ease” and the past few decades of technical evolution have shown a growing trend for increased control with greater flexibility and a decentralised business ethos. Underpinning all of this is connectivity and flexibility. We cannot support tomorrow’s business environment without these essential capabilities.

Without flexible connectivity business evolution is not possible – technology should not be used to do what we’ve always done but instead evolve how we do things and what we do and change our mind-set, much like the way Bitcoin turned the traditional concept of currency on its head. The financial system, free from banks and governments highlights the value in decentralised systems in terms of increased productivity and efficiency, something that today’s businesses are very much aware is central to their longevity.

At the core of this decentralised concept is flexibility and connectivity. Businesses have to be able to change direction and realign to new markets instantly. Traditional ways of doing business are just too slow and too expensive for an increasingly fast paced and digitised world. Because of this, all organisations, big and small, public and private have to be designed specifically for regular change and evolving customer demands. This is the new normal. Those that are flexible and open minded will be able to compete and lead in this new normality where technology is used for new ways of working as opposed to simply putting traditional analogue processes into a digital infrastructure.

All of this reaffirms the importance of digital transformation and its vital role in business evolution. An expert understanding of what people and businesses need to succeed in these challenging times is essential right now. And because our heritage is mobile and our expertise is customer service, we have a valuable understanding of the challenges mobilisation presents for our customers and we can make the digital transformation easier and more effective for them. Digital confidence and competence is fundamental to the success of the UK economy.

About Ben Dowd

Ben Dowd is one of O2’s longest standing directors. Ben has been instrumental in moving the business from solely mobile into the ICT space. His responsibility covers all of the business area and includes SOHO, Small businesses, and Corporate, as well as multinational customers.

  • petergkinnon

    In reality the evolution of technology is NOT under our control. This almost universal misconception is the source of much confusion upon this issue.

    In actuality, the real next cognitive entity quietly self assembles in the background, mostly unrecognized for what it is. And, contrary to our usual conceits, is not stoppable or directly within our control.

    We are very prone to anthropocentric distortions of objective reality. This is perhaps not surprising, for to instead adopt the evidence based viewpoint now afforded by “big science” and “big history” takes us way outside our perceptive comfort zone.

    The fact is that the evolution of the Internet (and, of course, major components such as Google) is actually an autonomous process. The difficulty in convincing people of this “inconvenient truth” seems to stem partly from our natural anthropocentric mind-sets and also the traditional illusion that in some way we are in control of, and distinct from, nature. Contemplation of the observed realities tend to be relegated to the emotional “too hard” bin.

    This evolution is not driven by any individual software company or team of researchers, but rather by the sum of many human requirements, whims and desires to which the current technologies react. Among the more significant motivators are such things as commerce, gaming, social interactions, education and sexual titillation.

    Virtually all interests are catered for and, in toto provide the impetus for the continued evolution of the Internet. Netty is still in her larval stage, but we “workers” scurry round mindlessly engaged in her nurture.

    By relinquishing our usual parochial approach to this issue in favor of the overall evolutionary “big picture” provided by many fields of science, the emergence of a new predominant cognitive entity (from the Internet, rather than individual machines) is seen to be not only feasible but inevitable.

    The separate issue of whether it well be malignant, neutral or benign towards we snoutless apes is less certain, and this particular aspect I have explored elsewhere.

    Stephen Hawking, for instance, is reported to have remarked “Whereas the short-term impact of AI depends on who controls it, the long-term impact depends on whether it can be controlled at all,”

    This statement reflects the narrow-minded approach that is so common-place among those who make public comment on this issue. In reality, as much as it may offend our human conceits, the march of technology and its latest spearhead, the Internet is, and always has been, an autonomous process over which we have very little real control.

    Seemingly unrelated disciplines such as geology, biology and “big history” actually have much to tell us about the machinery of nature (of which technology is necessarily a part) and the kind of outcome that is to be expected from the evolution of the Internet.

    This much broader “systems analysis” approach, freed from the anthropocentric notions usually promoted by the cult of the “Singularity”, provides a more objective vision that is consistent with the pattern of autonomous evolution of technology that is so evident today.

    Very real evidence indicates the rather imminent implementation of the next, (non-biological) phase of the on-going evolutionary “life” process from what we at present call the Internet. It is effectively evolving by a process of self-assembly. The “Internet of Things” is proceeding apace and pervading all aspects of our lives. We are increasingly, in a sense, “enslaved” by our PCs, mobile phones, their apps and many other trappings of the increasingly cloudy net. We are already largely dependent upon it for our commerce and industry and there is no turning back. What we perceive as a tool is well on its way to becoming an agent.

    There are at present an estimated 2 Billion Internet users. There are an estimated 10 to 80 Billion neurons in the human brain. On this basis for approximation the Internet is even now only one order of magnitude below the human brain and its growth is exponential.

    That is a simplification, of course. For example: Not all users have their own computer. So perhaps we could reduce that, say, tenfold. The number of switching units, transistors, if you wish, contained by all the computers connecting to the Internet and which are more analogous to individual neurons is many orders of magnitude greater than 2 Billion. Then again, this is compensated for to some extent by the fact that neurons do not appear to be binary switching devices but instead can adopt multiple states.

    Without even crunching the numbers, however, we see that we must take seriously the possibility that even the present Internet may well be comparable to a human brain in processing power. And, of course, the degree of interconnection and cross-linking of networks within networks is also growing rapidly.

    The emergence of a new and predominant cognitive entity that is a logical consequence of the evolutionary continuum that can be traced back at least as far as the formation of the chemical elements in stars.

    This is the main theme of my latest book “The Intricacy Generator: Pushing Chemistry and Geometry Uphill” which is now available as a 336 page illustrated paperback from Amazon, etc.

    Netty, as you may have guessed by now, is the name I choose to identify this emergent non-biological cognitive entity.