Tsunamis wipe out things quietly and quickly without giving you time to prepare and react. This is exactly how the year 2020 showed us – the overnight change. Throughout history, the most important lessons emerge from the worst humanitarian challenges. Understanding the development of human evolution motivates us to reflect on what digital transformation really means to humanity. The pandemic accelerated digital transformation. Futurist Gerd Leonard claimed that anything that cannot be automated would become extremely valuable.
The latest 2021 report from Ark Investment shows that revenues from virtual worlds could be close to $400 billion. Virtualization is about creating an immaterial digital version of something rather than strictly replicating it at some point and someplace. Everything that can be digital will eventually be digital. The emerging technologies stimulated by digital transformation include deep learning, robotics, cloud/edge computing, blockchain, and 3D printing.
Traditionally, all software is written by human beings. Deep learning is a form of artificial intelligence (AI) that uses the data to write software. The depth of the study for almost all the big Internet service provides the power, including social media and video search. Based on the Ark Investment report, most of the essential software will be developed by deep learning during the next five to ten years. Deep learning is probably the most crucial software breakthrough in our era.
Every minute, every second, people produce a large amount of data. We rely on the data center to store information as we move into the new era of the InternetInternet—the power transfers to the Cloud. As we moved into the Internet of Things (IoT) age, any object can be connected to the Internet through the edge server and interact with the Cloud, your smartwatch, washing machines, doorknobs, vehicles, or even our human bodies.
Robots and Cobots
In the past ten years, the installation of surgical robots has rapidly grown throughout the world. Not only that, to avoid human contact during outbreaks, robot technology adoption has ramped up exponentially. The E-commerce giants have introduced robot delivery services. You can also find intelligent robots in restaurants, hotels, supermarkets, and hospitals. According to an IBM report: 120 million workers will need retraining due to robots. Whether you accept it or not, the robot will be everywhere.
With the technology development in language understanding, image recognition, battery capacity, new materials, the price of robots will drop dramatically, which will boost the adoption rate in the future.
Edge Computing and Cloud Computing
Every action on the Internet will produce a piece of traceable information from different sources. Data generation is 24/7 nonstop. The enormous amounts of complex data and its complexity have given rise to cloud storage and cloud computing. The next challenge is how to understand big data and convert it into actionable insights.
During the pandemic outbreak, Microsoft cloud services spike 775%. Unlike Cloud computation, edge computation is performed on the distributed device to reduce processing speed and security concerns.
At its core, blockchain is about decentralization. I believe that blockchain is the most potential technology that is applicable across industries on different layers. The best example at the moment is cryptocurrencies, a type of currency that is powered by blockchain technology. Blockchain itself is a decentralized distributed database that records the provenance of a digital asset. The world is evolving around the digital realm. Everything is turning digital, and blockchain is the revolutionary technology that allows us to own digital assets and data most securely and transparently.
Ark Investment believes that 3D printing will revolutionize manufacturing, growing at an annual rate of roughly 60% from $12 billion last year to $120 billion in 5 years. Early 2021, America’s first 3D printed house was listed for sale in Long Island, New York, for only $300k, which was priced 50% below the cost of comparable newly constructed homes around the same area, thanks to 3D printing technology. The 3D printers of the future can print state-of-the-art products from hundreds of composite materials and let you produce them directly on site instead of taking a two-hour commute to the shopping center to purchase them.
The rise of a contact-free economy brought fundamental changes which forced people to operate digitally and obtained unprecedented momentum in digital transformation. The exponential technology provides considerable potential and carried new responsibility to regulate across different sectors – education, government, healthcare, finance, et cetera. A progressive mindset and agility will be the key to surviving and thriving in the next normal—leveraging emerging tools and technologies to reimagine and take action.