November 23, 2015

The digital future is already here - 10 domains that will change the world

Pasi Iljin

Head of Technology and Foresight, Tieto

More computing power. More bandwidth. More devices, more everything. These days there is a lot of hype about Digitalization and its mighty effect to almost any business, society and individual on planet earth. To understand what Digitalization really is, we have identified 10 domains of disruptive change of near future.

Fundamental technology evolves faster than ever due to its exponential nature. At the same time the costs  of associated with computing, storage  and  internet network usage have come down dramatically in last 10 years. The exponential increase of computing, storage and networking resources has also been quite predictable until today, which has inspired some to talk about technological singularity, a point in time where computing power of a single computer surpasses the corresponding computing power of human brain. Today, it has been estimated that one supercomputer can simulate a brain of a Rat successfully. Of course, in this mind-exercise, at the time after the technological singularity the computer is more intelligent than a human which in turn leads into a world where machines rule and dominate over the human race. Sounds like science fiction?

But digitalization is not science fiction. Whether the technological singularity is going to happen or not, it is still very probable that the technology evolution speeds up every year. The capabilities of Information technology will merge with Biotechnology and nanotechnology seamlessly. Some authors speak about NBIC, nanotechnology, biotechnology, Information technology and Cognitive science merging together, producing for example intelligent materials that remember its shape or nanocomputers that would be able to fix human tissue inside a body.

All-the-time accelerating technology evolution combined with breakthrough innovation in for example biotechnology and nanotechnology fuels the speed of change in the digital disruption. The user wants more personalized services that would be delivered using wearable technology or embedding nanotechnology into body. Already now the medical treatment can be optimized to user’s genome as the cost to calculate user genome has been declining rapidly over the years. Already now it is possible to buy an item from an online shop and have it delivered to your home in one hour. Already now the customer service by human voice synthesis is indistinguishable from the real human. And already now most of the sport news are generated by an algorithm, not a human.

Innovations fueled by almost infinite amount of computing, storage and network resources combined with rapid user behaviour change leads to rapid digitalization of businesses and societies. The pace of change is accelerating. The lifetime of an innovation, be it technology, business or other kind of an innovation, is being squeezed. Also the users and providers of digital services must be faster and more agile in creating and utilizing new innovations. Generalists will become specialists in the new networks of innovation. The consumers will have more and more power in the new economy. The traditional industry boundaries will be blurred and new opportunities arise in between.

Tieto has identified 10 new domains of disruptive change: Digital Payments, Real-time retail, Digital Value chains,  Autonomous logistics, Digital health management, On-Demand manufacturing, Digital public services, Cybersecurity, Factory of the Future and Smart Home Health.

For example, 3D printing has potential to collapse the traditional value chain when buying consumer goods. It may remove traditional mass manufacturing and associated logistics totally. There is no need of mass-manufacturing, warehousing or logistics at all. Another example is found in digital payments, which, fueled by blockchain technology, could have a large impact on the value chain operated by banks and credit card companies.

One could say the future is here. The technology that enables Digitalization is here and it is evolving in an accelerated pace.  Scientific breakthroughs and innovations elaborate our understanding of human life. Consumer behaviour drives the 24/7 personalized society. The companies that survive this transformation will be ones that are the most adaptable, networked and most importantly bold in their vision about the new fully digitalized world.

Our Foresight 2020 - visions of the future will be published in early 2016.

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