The Digital Revolution is Happening: Are You Ready?

Nicola Mortimer
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On: 22 Jun 2017
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Nicola Mortimer Three

The World Economic Forum (WEF) has said we are on the brink of a “Fourth Industrial Revolution” that will blur the lines between the physical, digital and biological spheres.

They expect it to completely redefine our economies and daily lives. What really lies at the heart of this revolution and what exactly will it mean for business?

The possibilities opened up by connectivity between machines, people and the internet are not just exciting; they are revolutionary. As with all previous revolutions, those who don’t take part risk being trampled underfoot by those who do. Rest assured that change will be incremental, and is in fact already underway. Remotely controlled central heating, automated parking assistance, and remote monitoring of factory equipment are everyday examples of the progress in the fields of smart homes, cars and factories.

Machine-to-Human

What is particularly interesting is how it is now about connecting not only machines to machines, and humans to humans, but also machines to humans. By combining the internet and mobile technology, sensors and human sense, this Digital Revolution will provide humans and machines with more data than ever before. This data will enable machines to act independently to optimise their own operations and, in effect, increase their own intelligence. This is the point where those who remember HAL in 2001 A Space Odyssey start to worry. Are intelligent machines ultimately going to replace humans?

Intelligent, connected machines will be able to take over from us in doing many of the things we are not great at, parking in small spaces or sifting through megabytes of data for example, yet they will still rely on input from humans.

Practical Uses of Artificial Intelligence (AI)

During my visit to this year’s Mobile World Congress, I learned about the contribution AI can make to troubleshooting. Troubleshooting a broken-down piece of equipment initially requires an engineer to establish what’s gone wrong and what could have caused it. This is essentially a data-checking, box-ticking exercise that a machine with access to data from sensors can do faster than even the most experienced engineer. The machine’s memory will hold data on whether this problem has been encountered before and what steps were taken to remedy it. Once the machine has completed the process of diagnosing the issue and outlining a resolution, the human engineer can step in and follow the instructions given, so there is less requirement for the engineer to have experience in the area.

Imagine applying that same way of working in the field of human health. If a machine had access to every health record ever created, every medical textbook ever written, and every outcome of hundreds of thousands of drug prescriptions, the most likely diagnosis and best treatment options could be arrived at in minutes, before a doctor gets involved to make any decisions. This is yet another example of how humans will not be replaced but freer to focus on where our unique qualities and abilities will add most value.

Revolutionary Three Customers

The Digital Revolution is evident in some surprising areas, such as the air that we breathe. Novaerus is a Dublin-based company supplying air purification technology to healthcare facilities worldwide. Three is working with Novaerus on the development of a new variation of their product, which is fitted with sensors to monitor and report air quality in real time. This evolves the product from its specialist clinical application and opens up countless opportunities and markets, e.g. for cyclists in cities, offices and public transport.

The revolution is also taking place on our doorsteps, literally. Nordsense is a waste management company adapting the Internet of Things to the Internet of Trash! Their smart waste collection system optimises waste operations by rationalising collection routes, reducing the size of waste vehicle fleets, their mileage, and fuel consumption. It is a highly intelligent, highly connected solution.

We’re Irreplaceable!

Before air purification or waste management could become smarter, before data could be collected and analysed, before a machine could begin to learn and continually improve as it operates – a human had to see a problem and have an idea. That can’t rely on a machine’s logic or a computer’s speed of analysis, or the ubiquity of digital connectivity. It requires the spark of inspiration and creativity which is found only in the biological brain.

With digital natives now in the workforce, businesses that want to be at the forefront of the “Fourth Industrial Revolution” need to harness the abilities of these potential innovators, and realise the potential of their new ways of thinking, doing and developing.

Revolutionise your business.

Call our Business Advice team on 1800 200 017, or request a call back.