No matter what aspect of human life you consider, the pace of technology over the last 30 years has had a transformative effect on our planet. From the mass adoption of mobile devices and cell phones to the increased influence and integration of web-based platforms in our everyday existence, technology is now shaping our current and future worlds.
It’s estimated around 98% of the total data ever produced was made in the last two years and, with emerging technologies like the Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning, we are now entering a new phase of evolution that many experts suggest may constitute a fourth industrial revolution.
Certainly, one thing is absolutely for sure – the speed and sophistication of technology are already revolutionizing almost all facets of our business and work lives.
Data – the world’s most valuable commodity?
Our lives are going digital – going virtual – and the boundaries between the real and digital worlds blur almost daily. As we integrate more and more with tech and the web, so the value of the data we produce increases exponentially. With most modern companies now relying (almost without exception) on tech for everything from communications to storage and extended networks, the value of that same information is now estimated to exceed that of traditional heavy-hitters like oil and gold.
The future of work in a newly tech-dominated world
The workplace has been changing for many years and is now almost unrecognizable to that of even 10 years ago. Faster connection speeds, more adept mobile devices, cloud networking and storage, AI … the list goes on in terms of the impact tech has had on the world of work. Even apparently smaller aspects as simple as email, company websites, e-commerce and social media have completely transformed the commercial landscape opening up global opportunities and 24/7/365 markets to businesses big and small.
Bill Gates famously penned a novel in conjunction with Collins Hemingway back in 1999 entitled, Business at the Speed of Thought where he outlined the potential impact the web and tech would come to have on the world. Yet, despite his almost-prescient insight that far back, it remains doubtful if even he could have predicted just how much tech would come to dominate business and society in general.
Likewise, when Tim Berners-Lee published the world’s first web page in August 1991, surely he also couldn’t have realized the omnipresence the technology would have in our lives. Yet, in many ways, we’re only at the start of a seemingly very long journey when it comes to how tech is altering and revolutionizing our world.
Preparing for the markets of tomorrow and finding ways to future-proof firms is a constant battle for workers and companies alike. In many ways, the world has never been more uncertain yet opportunities abound for those with the know-how and the right skills. Qualifying computer-related studies offer new graduates possibilities on a global scale that were previously simply unimaginable in a pre-digital world.
By combining a knowledge of both computers and commerce, tomorrow’s alumnae will be able to take advantage of global markets, augmented by tech and software. Today, qualifications abound that combine these valuable skills. However, it’s becoming increasingly challenging for the students of today (tomorrow’s movers and shakers) to be able to differentiate between the relative merits of the course they choose.
For example, those trying to decide between studying engineering management vs MBA courses should be aware that the two qualifications place varying importance on two different (yet related) skills pertaining to software and hardware development. An MBA will focus attention on making money from tech and the business processes involved where an engineering management qualification is more concerned with the idea of developing and evolving tech – including managing and leading teams.
How COVID-19 accelerated the tech revolution
The recent lockdowns caused by the emergence of the novel coronavirus served as a timely reminder of just how much of modern life revolves around tech. Through lockdown, populations were forced online to work, shop and stay in touch over the web. Home-working has become the norm in many industries, exposing our previous office-based, 9-5 culture as largely superfluous to requirements – so much so that many industry experts believe we will never again return our old ways.
Cloud storage, remote working, the mobile desktop, online collaboration – none of these concepts were particularly new before coronavirus, but their take-up has undoubtedly been accelerated by the virus.
As we slowly emerge from the worst of COVID-19 and the continued global roll-out of vaccines promises a return to something nearing ‘normal’ again, it seems highly unlikely the lessons learned and cost-savings made through the increased adoption of tech will simply be forgotten. Rather, a little like the new practices of elbow-coughing and keeping a distance from strangers, our newly found appreciation of (and reliance upon) tech will most probably persist long after COVID-19 has passed.