Trend: Connecting Everything, Literally

Connecting everything is not just the Internet of things. It is the internet of us.

Soon everything will be connected and addressable – from thermostats to refrigerators to doorknobs. This will enable automation, even bigger data and new technology that we can’t currently fathom.

But this is just the beginning.

Everything means everything and that includes us.

Today we are in the dark ages of connectivity. Think of the telephone as an analogy: it is like we are all working with telegraphs, trying hard to use simplistic systems to do ever more complicated things. The technology is there but we haven’t figured out how to make it work yet.

Yet we already have wifi enabled contact lenses, immersive virtual reality, cochlear implants, and the list goes on. It is not a stretch to think that we will soon be able to connect ourselves, pieces of ourselves, to the internet.

It will make being in multiple places at once possible. When Snowden visited Vancouver in, 2014, using basically a tablet on a stick, he attended a conference without facing arrest, despite powerful police forces working to arrest him.

When this “telegraph” technology develops to the point that we have something analogous to the iPhone we will be able to travel anywhere by projecting ourselves into avatars – feeling, touching, living as if we were at our destination, while never leaving home.

The implications of this are tremendous: systems that depend on human interaction, basically all systems, become obsolete. Snowden is wanted by police but he can walk right up to them, have a conversation and not be arrested.

The way we communicate and interact with each other will change. Consider what has happened with the evolution of the telegraph to the smartphone, over the last 100 years we have reinvented communication. Thanks to exponential change we will likely see that same level of shift over the next 10 to 15 years, rather than 100.

Technology will also reveal new experiences by enhancing our senses. Camera implants may let us see new light spectra, perhaps new colors, certainly more detail. Tagged cells and implants in our blood may inform our doctors of health issues long before we feel any symptoms. Cancerous cells will send you a message before they even form a tumor.

And so on…

What does this mean for you?

In the short term, the telegraph phase, it means that you will need to consider how to derive efficiencies and reimagine workflows. Interactions with clients and the definition of engagement will change. Companies will be more porous and networked rather than rigid and hierarchical.

Information will be readily available so competitive advantage will come from solving problems rather than controlling access.

As with all technical change if you are not reinventing your business using new technology somebody else is. So how will you

  • Digitize your business.

  • Respond to developments like automated ordering and (even more) supply chain transparency?

  • Manage the huge amounts of data?

  • Think forward and anticipate rather than assess the past and adjust?

But long term there are interesting uncertainties:

  • Will we develop information borders to control data flowing in and out of countries? These borders could be here sooner than we think

  • How will privacy issues be handled? In the short term, business information may become impossible to control, long term our personal information may become impossible to control, our cells will become network nodes.

  • What economic systems will develop to cope with the knowledge we will be developing about society and each other?

How will this impact your business?

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