10 June, 2011

It’s not new technology, it’s a whole new world

Melbourne Herald Sun, Friday June10, 2011

This week the genius of computer marketing planted his flag on the future of human communication. No wonder ranks of cameras were there relaying the historic event around the world.

The genius, of course, is Apple's Steve Jobs, looking cadaverous but still alive after his battle with cancer. The future is The Cloud - remember three years ago when I advised you that this was a term you would do well to remember?

Well the result is iCloud - Apple's mega-computer in the sky. A vast data bank that will hold every song and picture you possess, and deliver them to you wherever you are, on whatever device you are using.

But the same technology will also manage a corporation's entire stock inventory or bookkeeping, or trade or financial activities. Variations of it have already been implemented by Google and Microsoft. Before long, business will never be the same again.

This is what frustrates me about so many of our political and business leaders. They spend their days arguing and fighting and scoring points, not realising that there is an earthquake tsunami bearing down on them that could sweep these petty issues all away.

They think the future will be much like before but with the aid of some clever machines. In fact the whole world is rapidly changing beneath their feet, at a bewildering speed.

Ask the disappearing bookshop chains or record stores. They are the canaries in the pit, the first to fall off the perch before the whole mine blows up.

You are aware, of course, that there is a big increase in the flow of information technology. But do you realise how much?

Last week IT author and columnist George Skarbek pulled up some figures during a lecture. Take a minute to contemplate them and what they could mean to us, to the world, to you.

A quarter of the people on this planet now use the internet - 1.8 billion individuals. As the developing world gallops ahead that will increase by at least a billion in a few years.

In 2007 we saw 5 exabytes of data flow through the internet every month (put simply that's 1.4 billion DVDs).

By last year this had increased to 21 exabytes a month. Pause a minute here.

Ten years ago it was calculated that the sum of all human-produced information, every word, book, note of music, frame of video, came to about 12 exabytes. And here we are nearly double that.

By 2013 this will have increased to 57 exabytes. Five times all human knowledge, every month.

We're no longer looking at some corner of the electronics industry doing interesting things. We are looking at the whole world, our whole civilisation and commerce and politics, changing. And most of us have little idea of where it is going, least of all our politicians.

For the most part the change will be benign - watch any movie you want, any time; read the newspapers on your tablet on the train; work from any corner of the earth, like you’re in the CBD.

For others it will mean their jobs will greatly change or disappear.

As a business person, it is your duty to keep abreast of these changes, don’t let events take you by surprise.

As a nation, it is up to us to prepare for the remodelled landscape ahead, so we can stay abreast of the world.

Anybody involved with information technology knows how vital this is, how important that we maximise our capacity. Every one of them knows we need - at least - the national broadband network. Including, I’ll wager, Malcolm Turnbull.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

A gem Ray.
I Facebooked ref to your blog twice in separate places.
Colin Pearce