A More Connected Future
As we head into the holiday season, I’m already looking toward the future and am excited by what I see: technology that has the potential to answer some of our biggest questions, solve some of our toughest challenges and help us better understand the world around us.
We’re beginning to see a world where everything is connected and everything computes, driven by the Internet of Things (IoT).
The potential of Industrial IoT
Behind the scenes, in almost every industry, massive efforts are underway to connect our physical and digital worlds, unleashing what many are calling the next Industrial Revolution.
The potential is so great, a recent World Economic Forum (WEF) report predicts that, within the next 10 years, IoT will impact nearly two-thirds of the global GDP, bringing unprecedented opportunities to almost every aspect of our lives.
“One study suggests that IoT will add £322 billion to the U.K. economy by 2020.”
The UN predicts that 66 percent of the world’s population will live in cities by 2050, placing massive strains on infrastructure and resources. But cities around the world—from London to Goyang—are already investing in technologies to cope with the influx.
Sensors, data and analytics are being used to reduce traffic and energy consumption, improve public safety and air quality, and protect the elderly. These investments will not only give citizens more control over the services they want and need, they may even serve as an economic stimulus. One study suggests that IoT will add £322 billion to the U.K. economy by 2020.
Some research that suggests nearly half of all U.S. jobs could be automated in the next two decades. And, it’s not just manufacturing jobs that will be automated. If you’ve seen the trailer for the new movie “Passengers,” you’ve seen that bartenders can be automated, too.
But the good news is, IoT won’t just replace jobs—it will open up entirely new professions. One WEF estimate suggests that 65 percent of children entering primary school today will end up in jobs that don’t yet exist. We’ll see more IoT-driven professions like smart energy experts and tech-savvy city planners, along with the ever-growing need for more engineers, developers and data scientists.
But creative types, don’t fret—as production jobs give way to automation, some experts predict IoT will also unleash an “artisan economy” where writers, artists and designers can flourish.
“A California almond farmer cut his water consumption by 20% using cloud-based moisture sensors.”
Industrial IoT will help manufacturing firms like Airbus create “factories of the future,” building aircrafts in virtual reality with robots and humans working side by side. These connected factories will have the ability to anticipate machinery issues before they happen, efficiently manage inventory and save on fuel costs by optimizing delivery routes.
That same technology can apply to retail, transportation and even agriculture, areas where IoT is already proving “fruitful.” The Economist recently reported on a California almond farmer who cut his water consumption by 20 percent using cloud-based moisture sensors—a critical innovation for my drought-ridden state. Similar solutions can help reduce waste and make food more plentiful and affordable.
National University Hospital in Singapore is already piloting remote healthcare, which allows patients to use wearables that provide biometric updates to doctors without ever leaving their homes. These devices help monitor patient health, ensure safe medication consumption and eliminate the cross-contamination that can sometimes occur in healthcare facilities.
A more connected future
This is just the beginning of what’s possible when we harness the power of IoT. Increased intelligence and connectivity can improve our lives in many ways, allowing us to focus on the things that matter most—family, friends, health and happiness.
So, as 2016 comes to a close, I’d like to wish you all a happy New Year. Here’s to peace and prosperity in 2017. And, here’s to a more connected future.
BY Meg Whitman