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by Ronald Ravel, Director B2B South Africa, dynabook South Africa
A decade ago, you couldn't order a taxi from an app, pay for goods with the tap of a card or rent a place to stay whilst on the move. The 2010s have been a tremendous decade for technology, with both consumers and businesses benefitting from a plethora of new product and services developed in the last 10 years.
The 2012 launch of 4G, in particular, unlocked a slew of capabilities from mobile streaming to apps such as Uber, Deliveroo and Airbnb. Whilst some technologies haven’t lived up to expectations, others have dramatically changed the way we live and work. As we sit on the precipice of the fourth industrial revolution, we look back at key developments from the previous decade and predict some of the technologies set to dominate the next.
A look back
The foundations of this decade of ‘technology transformation’ have been improved mobility and enhanced connectivity. Mobility has come to the forefront in all form factors, including tablets and laptops. Rewind to just over a decade ago and only 17% of people owned a smartphone and Apple released its first iPad back in 2010.
Now devices are increasingly thinner, lighter, more robust, with enhanced storage and longer battery lives, transforming how consumers connect to the internet, consume content and even work away from the office. Advances in connectivity have also been critical to the development of new products and services in. The launch of 4G and the emergence of cloud computing have transformed our ability to communicate and access information beyond recognition so that we know live in a superfast, ‘always on’ era.
One technology that has not reached its promised potential is the Internet of Things (IoT). Though advances in the IoT have certainly started gaining traction over the last decade, predictions for the technology have fallen short. In 2011, Cisco predicted that there would be 50 billion connected devices in play by 2020. As we come towards the 2020 milestone, experts now suspect there will be closer to 20 billion connected devices by then.
2020 will be the year for 5G
To date, much of the forecasts around 5G have been in relation to investment and launches. However, next year this will change. With several telco companies officially launching the technology and 5G-compatible phones coming into mainstream, consumers will start to see 5G ‘in action’ and will realise the possibilities with this new technology.
But 5G won’t just mean a faster download of your favourite Netflix show, the shift from 4G to 5G will change just about everything across multiple industries. Telecom experts are going so far as to herald 5G's arrival as the advent of the fourth industrial revolution. In fact, 5G – with its enhanced capacity, connectivity, speeds and minimal latencies – will be the catalyst for IoT adoption. Other technologies predicted to springboard off 5G include cloud and edge computing, wearables, and 8K technology – to name a few.
Wearables will reach more sectors
The advent of 5G will see the wearable technology sector continue to reach even more sectors. One such industry is the emergency services sector. Decision-makers within the police, fire and ambulance services are beginning to recognise how they can best use wearable devices to enhance the mobile productivity of workforces, improve first-responder safety and better patient care. While wearables remain in their infancy within the Blue Light sector, over the next few years we’ll see a growing appetite around use case testing and experimentation. Those who are already testing out wearable technology are continually uncovering more potential use-cases.
Living on the edge in 2020 and beyond
Edge computing has gained significant traction in recent years. However, if 5G, IoT and wearables are to be adopted at the rate predicted, it will require ‘the edge’ to remain central to enterprise operations. The value of edge computing comes in its ability to provide secure and powerful computing at the periphery of the network, reducing operational strain and latency. In 2020 and beyond, mobile edge computing will act as the gateway for even more IoT solutions to be used across the professional world. In the same way that laptops and smartphones created a new environment for office workers, mobile edge computing will do the same for these workers.
8K technology will move up the agenda
Another key technology predicted to benefit from the connectivity provided by 5G is 8K technology. While TV broadcast and photography are obvious applications in the consumer world, 8K will also dramatically impact other aspects of our lives, from advanced facial recognition and surveillance to remote medical diagnosis and mining operations. In 2020 and beyond, 8K technology will be part of key discussions in multiple industries.
We’ve no doubt seen significant advancements in technology over the past decade, and 5G is putting us on the cusp of the next wave of innovation. 5G will be the catalyst for various technologies which have been on the brink for some time. Though these advancements won’t happen overnight, 2020 will undoubtedly be the beginning of a new technological era.