We all know that technology changes quickly.
Just consider, for one moment, the gargantuan leaps that have been made since Microsoft launched Windows in 1985, or the birth of the world wide web in 1989. Those of us of a certain age will also remember the first mobile phones – huge, clunky, unwieldy bricks with limited functionality. Compare these to the slick smartphones we all have today.
From small acorns, all these developments have developed at breakneck speed, maturing into the sophisticated systems that now, arguably, control multiple aspects of our lives.
The pattern is the same when it comes to the business world. Developments are occurring so quickly that the entire structure of multiple business sectors is changing, almost beyond recognition. Take the packaging lines, or production lines, in factories or processing plants as an example. The tasks that were once done by armies of people are now often done by robotics. Indeed, there are entire sections of modern production lines where you will not see a single human being.
For technology investors, the rapid changing of technology presents opportunities. The right investment at the right time could reap significant rewards. However, to be successful, specialist technology investors need to have almost a sixth sense to know what the businesses and consumers of tomorrow will come to see as essential.
While it might be impossible to see into the future and predict exactly what will happen, it is important for investors to understand why technology changes so quickly, and to have a solid understanding of how the future technology landscape is predicted to change.
Why does technology change so quickly?
If you blink, you’ll miss it. Never has this saying been more accurate when it is applied to the changing nature of technology.
Scholars have identified a phenomenon known as Accelerating Change. This term is used to illustrate how each technological improvement can create the next, stronger generations of technology at a faster rate.
As each generation of technology is better than the last, it builds new technology faster. Almost like a rolling snowball, each new development takes a concept to the next level, making it faster and much more powerful.
As we look to the future, one of the biggest changes on the horizon, with early examples already arguably being felt today, is the impact of Industry 4.0.
Any technology investor who is actively looking to the future will be doing so in the context of Industry 4.0., also often called the fourth industrial revolution. However, what will the true impact of Industry 4.0. be, and how prepared for it are we?
While Industry 4.0 has been called a new industrial revolution, its implementation will more likely resemble an evolution in which digitalization and automation meet very complex product portfolios and life cycles.
Digitalization will connect everything, creating new levels of transparency and adaptivity. This will enable faster decision-making and provide in-line and in-time control over business, operations, and quality. It will also require higher levels of security, since connected systems heighten vulnerability.
A combination of cyber-physical systems, the Internet of Things and the Internet of Systems will power Industry 4.0 and allow the smart factory to become a reality. As a result of the support of smart machines that keep getting smarter as they get access to more data, multiple sectors are expected to become much more efficient and productive and less wasteful.
Ultimately, it’s the network of these machines that are digitally connected with one another and create and share information that will result in the true power of Industry 4.0.
While none of us can accurately predict the future with complete accuracy, it is certain that technology will retain its ability to completely overhaul the entire DNA of every single business sector across the globe.
We are already seeing it – and these changes will continue at pace thanks to Industry 4.0. Ultimately, it will be this hyper-connectivity, automation and these smart systems that will provide a rich future framework of opportunities for tomorrow’s technology investors.