Advertisements magazine has published this piece of reflexion on the amazing progress of technology of information sharing and processing generally. Evolving into a connected world challenges is an article on the prospective vision of our daily life in year 2020 and beyond but also a retrospective review of past revolutions in the technological world.  It is based on a report of a recent Euromonitor.  Professor Khalid Al Begain elaborates in the second article for a better grasp of the workings of such changes.  Here are 2 articles on the latest happenings.

Meanwhile, “The southern Mediterranean Governments should subsidize connectivity instead of subsidizing energy”, said Professor Adel Ben Yousef at the inaugural meeting of the economic week in the Mediterranean, the 10th SEM on November 2 through 4th at the Villa Mediterranée in Marseille.   Read more in French on its programme here.

Humans 2.0: Evolving into a connected world

November 2nd, 2016

  •  Almost half of the global population will be using the internet by 2020
  •  People are connecting through different devices such as smartphones, automobiles and fridges
  •  Society is on the brink of a new technological revolution, dubbed the Fourth Industrial Revolution

The number of Internet users has doubled during the past seven years, reaching 3.2 billion users globally in 2016, According to a recent report published by Euromonitor International.

According to the findings of the 2016 Digital Consumer Index, the figure accounts for an estimated 43 per cent of the global population. In 2020, 49 per cent of the global population is expected to be connected to the Internet.

The connectivity of such a vast percentage of the global population has created a fundamental shift in almost all industries, especially commerce. Today’s consumers browse and buy products and services in a different manner: online.

While developed nations lead in terms of Internet access through fixed broadband connections at home, digital connectivity among emerging markets has been driven by mobile, given the cheaper network investment and falling prices of mobile devices.

China, ranked 12th, and the UAE, ranked 17th, lead emerging markets on the Digital Consumer Index.

In developed markets, as of 2016, 79 per cent of consumers use the Internet, compared with 36 per cent in emerging markets. According to the findings, this gap is expected to narrow by 2020 as the number of Internet users in emerging markets is expected to grow vastly, expanding four times faster than that of developed markets.

Moreover, today’s consumers expect brands to interact with them before, during and after they make a purchase.

Connect through your fridge!

Connectivity is no longer limited to certain devices, as today’s consumers are connected through almost anything – a computer, a Smartphone, a Smartwatch, or even a fridge or an automobile.

Given the variety of media enabling connectivity, consumer behaviour changes across the way they live, play, work and shop.

A new way to do business

Catering to the new consumer behaviours across the globe, brands are changing how they do business, allowing new ways of engaging and conducting commerce.

The new model also allows firms operating through their own, unique formulas to prosper – one of the major aspects of disruption, such as the shared economy, given the likes of Uber and Airbnb, and other subscription-based services, such as Netflix.


Fourth Industrial Revolution

According to the experts, society is on the brink of yet another technological revolution, dubbed the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Below is a quick look at the three previous revolutions the world has witnessed:

  • First Industrial Revolution: Leveraged water and steam for manufacturing in the 1700s.
  • Second Industrial Revolution: Electrically powered production machines to introduce mass production in the 1900s.
  • Third Industrial Revolution: Used electronics and information technology to automate production in the 1970s.
  • The Fourth Industrial Revolution illustrates the fusion of technologies and the physical, digital and biological spheres, creating new horizons for humanity. Breakthroughs such as Artificial Intelligence, robotics, 3D printing and self-driving cars are new advances under the Fourth Industrial Revolution umbrella.


The Challenges of a Connected World

Professor Khalid Al Begain of the University of South Wales asks how mobile technology of the future will affect our lives.

Connectivity and information access is evolving. In the space of just four decades, our needs have evolved from basic connectivity for e-mail and document sharing, to the Internet revolution and finally the introduction of social media. But where are we going next?

In parallel, mobile networking and mobile connectivity have experienced unprecedented development. From the start of mobile telephony in 1990s with the introduction of GSM (2G mobile networks) followed by data capabilities through technology enhancements including General Packet Radio Services (GPRS) in 1997 for low rate access (around 50Kbps), 3G technology in 2001, High Speed Packet Access (HSPA) in 2010 and currently Long Term Evolution Technology (LTE) (promising 50Mbps) that has been advertised as 4G mobile technology although it does not yet meet the technical specification of 4G according to the technical standards.

In the coming years, research and development will turn to 5G technologies with keywords being mobile broadband; sensors; automation; Open Data; Big Data; Information Explosion; Security and Privacy.

Mobile broadband will become the enabler for a wide range of services such as mobile TV and video sharing on the fly. LTE network deployment will reach 60% in the world in 2018, and mobile users will reach 7 billion. New technologies such as LTE Advance, Voice and Video over LTE and mobile video conferencing will become available to enable new creative services and applications.

People connectivity will be overtaken in the coming few years by sensor connectivity. It is predicted that over 50 billion sensors will be connected to the Internet in 2020 (equating to 6 devices per person) creating what is called “The Internet of Things” and paving the way for the realisation of  Smart Cities and Smart Communities.  Ambient sensing and automation will become global phenomena.

As a result, according to Cisco, it is predicted that

The data traffic will grow 12 fold between 2013 and 2018.

By 2016 3 zettabytes of data will whiz around the world’s wires (372 exabytes in 2011).

Video downloads are expected to increase five-fold between 2013 and 2016.

Digital television uptake will surge from 694 million subscribers last year to 3 billion in 2016.

Peer-to-peer traffic volumes will rise, from 4.6 exabytes a month to 10 exabytes by 2016.

Storing and making sense of this data will create new challenges. This has evolved into the new concept of “Big Data”: datasets so large that it is difficult to capture, store, manage, share, analyze and visualize with typical software tools.

Knowledge extraction will be the next revolution namely the “Knowledge Revolution” but it won’t be straightforward. The collected data is incomplete and as such it may provide intuitive knowledge in contrast to traditional algorithms as not everything can be abstracted into data for computers to act upon. In the future, service delivery will be based on massive abstractions and virtualization technologies.  In addition, this “Big Data” will not be “Open Data”. It can be owned by many different authorities and organisations.

A large portion of this data will be personal which raises questions regarding privacy and security. Who can store personal data and in what format? How can we ensure it is securely stored and shared? How can we make sense of data without violating personal freedom? How can we stop malicious and criminal use? These are questions that will have to be considered together with the technological research and development.

On a final note, cyber security will be important in the design of any future system. Innovation and creativity will become one of the most important Intellectual Property assets targeted by criminals. One major UK company hosting significant government and other data have to deal with over 80 million individual security attacks per day. This is an example of the growing challenges we will face in the future.