The Fourth Industrial Revolution is here. Think of this as the data era; a time of deep connectivity driven by technology and powered by unprecedented amounts of data. We are at a pivotal point in human history where the possibilities are endless, and the implications are huge.
The first three industrial revolutions were also pivotal points in human history. Each unique, but all common in their impact on life as we knew it at the time. Each period introduced new ways to harness energy to drive improvements. These improvements fundamentally changed and created new industries and economic models with the introduction of factories over agriculture, in the first revolution; mass production, communication, and transportation in the second; and automation and the rise of electronics in the third. With each industrial revolution, we created more efficient ways to work, in-turn improving productivity and driving growth rates.
The Fourth Industrial Revolution, however, is about data and the digitalization of everything from cities and factories to homes and cars. This interconnectedness, together with emerging technologies such as 5G, AI, AR/VR, and IoT, are blurring the lines between our physical and digital worlds and driving new emphasis on the customer experience.
Many businesses today are already feeling the impact of this digitalization and the challenges associated with storing, analyzing, activating, and securing the resulting data. And as many businesses are just beginning to formulate a plan to realize the benefits of their data, the amount of information they are managing is continuing to grow at a rate that is only now starting to be realized.
- From the Dell Technologies Global Data Protection Index Study, we learned that on average organizations managed 9.7PB of data in 2018, compared to the 1.45PB managed in 2016. That’s an explosive growth of 569%!
- In a recent whitepaper, IDC predicts that the Global Datasphere will grow from 33 Zettabytes of data to 175 Zettabytes by 2025.
- The Dell Technologies Digital Transformation Index Study states ‘information overload’ is rapidly climbing the top 10 list of barriers businesses are facing when trying to digitally transform.
This explosion of data is causing rippling effects in every industry. From the cloud to the edge, business leaders are being challenged to push the boundaries of status quo.
The Digital Rescue Plan
If you are finding yourself on the wrong side of this growth rate, then you’re not alone. From the Digital Transformation Index Study, we also learned that despite the undeniable move towards a digital world, 91% of businesses’ digital transformation programs are still in their infancy. But our study also shows these businesses are beginning to formulate a digital rescue plan to increase productivity, profitability, revenue growth, customer retention, and ROI. And, within 5 years 77% of business leaders believe they will be able to harness emerging technologies to predict customer demands and manage resources, while 68% intend to use emerging technologies to improve supply chain efficiency.
What I find interesting about this study is the shift in technology investments businesses are making in the next 1-3 years, as compared to the initial study in 2016. For example, in 2016, cybersecurity, quantum computing, VR/AR, and cognitive systems investments weren’t even on the top 10 list. In 2018, cybersecurity, IoT technology, multi-cloud environment and AI top the list, with cybersecurity jumping to the number one spot. This shift in technology investments indicates that businesses are thinking more about securing their data and emerging technologies than just two years ago.
Digital Transformation Index Study Top Technology Investments 2016 vs 2018
And while data security is critical, businesses must also consider data creation. More applications are running at the edge than ever before. With IoT, smart cars, and smart cities, data generation at the edge is on the verge of exploding. In a recent Gartner article titled What Edge Computing Means for Infrastructure and Operations Leaders “around 10% of enterprise-generated data is created and processed outside a traditional centralized data center or cloud. By 2025, Gartner predicts this figure will reach 75%”. Bottom line, the edge is going to play a critical role in the future of data creation.
In the Fourth Industrial Revolution, a comprehensive digital rescue plan must include modern infrastructure to support emerging technologies and the growth in data businesses must manage, an edge-to-cloud data strategy, and the tools and education your workforce will need to help your business succeed.
Transformation in Action
If the first three industrial revolutions have taught us anything, it’s that life as we know it will change, jobs will be replaced by technology, new jobs will be born, and we will be able to work faster and more effortlessly. But the road to get there is not simple. Digital transformation is a complex process that takes time.
I encourage you to read the full Digital Transformation Index Study. Also, be on the lookout for my upcoming blogs where I will feature customers who have gone through their own digital transformation journey, leveraging emerging technologies. They’ll share valuable insights and advice for you to leverage in your own transformation journey.
There’s no question, the data era is here. The question is, will you be ready?