Mobile technology will connect billions more to Internet

In an earlier article I shared brief information on the 12 leading disruptive technologies identified by McKinsey Global Institute that will transform life, business and global economy by 2025. That was the first in a series of four articles. In this article, the second in the series, I will present extracts from the McKinsey report to further expand on each of the 12 disruptive technologies.

While the McKinsey report is designed primarily for business leaders and policy makers, it also identifies opportunities of which well-informed entrepreneurs – young and old – could take advantage.  The potential is vast. On the basis of known and anticipated applications for these 12 technologies, it is estimated that collectively the economic value could be as high as $33 trillion per year in 2025.

In this article we look at mobile Internet, automation of knowledge work, Internet of things and cloud technology.

Mobile Internet

Mobile applications and media technology conceptIn just a few years, Internet-enabled portable devices have gone from a luxury
for a few to a way of life for more than 1 billion people who own smartphones and tablets. In the United States, an estimated 30 percent of Web browsing and 40 percent of social media use is done on mobile devices; by 2015, wireless Web use is expected to exceed wired use. Ubiquitous connectivity and an explosive proliferation of apps are enabling users to go about their daily routines with new ways of knowing, perceiving, and even interacting with the physical world. The technology of the mobile Internet is evolving rapidly, with intuitive interfaces and new formats, including wearable devices. The mobile Internet also has applications across businesses and the public sector, enabling more efficient delivery of many services and creating opportunities to increase workforce productivity. There are 4.3 billion people still to be connected to the Internet. Bringing these people, especially in developing economies, into the connected world through mobile technology will have huge implications for the global economy and could create economic value as high $25 trillion by 2015.

Automation of knowledge work

Advances in artificial intelligence, machine learning, and natural user interfaces (e.g., voice recognition) are making it possible to automate many knowledge worker tasks that have long been regarded as impossible or impractical for machines to perform. For instance, some computers can answer “unstructured” questions (i.e., those posed in ordinary language, rather than precisely written as software queries), so employees or customers without specialized training can get information on their own. This opens up possibilities for sweeping change in how knowledge work is organized and performed. Sophisticated analytics tools can be used to augment the talents of highly skilled employees, and as more knowledge worker tasks can be done by machine, it is also possible that some types of jobs could become fully automated.

Internet of Things

The Internet of Things—embedding sensors and actuators in machines and other physical objects to bring them into the connected world—is spreading rapidly. From monitoring the flow of products through a factory to measuring the moisture in a field of crops to tracking the flow of water through utility pipes, the Internet of Things allows businesses and public-sector organizations to manage assets, optimize performance, and create new business models. With remote monitoring, the Internet of Things also has great potential to improve the health of patients with chronic illnesses and attack a major cause of rising health-care costs. It is estimated that 1 trillion “things” could be connected to the Internet across industries such as manufacturing, healthcare and mining creating economic value as high as $36 trillion by 2015.

Cloud technology

Kids accessing cloud applicationsWith cloud technology, any computer application or service can be delivered over a network or the Internet, with minimal or no local software or processing power required. In order to do this, IT resources (such as computation and storage)
 are made available on an as-needed basis—when extra capacity is needed it is seamlessly added, without requiring up-front investment in new hardware
or programming. The cloud is enabling the explosive growth of Internet-based services, from search to streaming media to offline storage of personal data (photos, books, music), as well as the background processing capabilities that enable mobile Internet devices to do things like respond to spoken commands to ask for directions. The cloud can also improve the economics of IT for companies and governments, as well as provide greater flexibility and responsiveness. Finally, the cloud can enable entirely new business models, including all kinds of pay-as- you-go service models.

Next article in series

In the next article, we will look at robotics, autonomous vehicles, genomics and energy storage.

See all Business posts.

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