Disruptive Changes & The New Normal
The vast amount of resources spent on the Research and Development of cutting edge technologies are changing the landscape of Manufacturing, Transport, Computing, and Connectivity. Advances made in the fields of Artificial Intelligence, 3D printing, Inter of Things, Big Data and Analytics, Genomics, to name just a few, are changing the traditional work methods and performance parameters. SMART systems have become a buzzword, SMART HOMES, SMART CITIES, SMART MANUFACTURING PLANTS will make us rethink our methods of functioning and problem solving.
These technology implementations will have a huge impact on the way most employers are hiring their employees, most work profiles will change drastically. To start with, general administration and mundane routine work will be automated and other work profiles will undergo a sea change related to necessary skill sets.
Disruptive changes to various business models will make some jobs redundant while creating new job profiles along the way. The focus will shift to lesser human intervention, automation, and improvement in employee productivity. We can think of a similar shift that took place in India in the late nineteen nineties. Jobs related to manufacturing were the most coveted jobs in the industry. All the talented and scholar students were joining the manufacturing industry leaders or their ancillary units. Electronics and Mechanical fields were the most sought after streams of engineering. In the late nineties, things started to change when Information Technology companies started recruiting talented candidates for their INDIA operations. IT companies were ready to pay significantly more salary than traditional manufacturing big-wigs. Students with strong academic qualifications used this opportunity and got better-paying jobs with a huge scope of career growth and wider global exposure.
These kinds of software programming or system design or hardware related jobs were unheard of till the late nineties. But a huge section of the aspiring young population got an opportunity of riding the IT wave and catapult their careers on the information superhighway.
We can observe similar patterns of mismatch wherein students while in school or colleges were not aware of the kind of jobs that will be made available to them by the changes taking place elsewhere in the globe.
In such a fluid employment scenario, the ability to anticipate and prepare ourselves for future skill set requirements is going to be extremely critical for individuals, industries, and even governments. For the government, it becomes even more critical to anticipate these changes and plan for the changing employment dynamics especially when a large section i.e. 28% of the Indian population is in the bracket of the 10-24 year age group.
All the past changes in the demographics and technological breakthroughs have resulted in increased productivity, job creation, and resultant personal and social growth. We can repeat these success stories provided we can foresee upcoming changes and take corrective proactive actions to get ready for the change.
The New Internet – Blockchain
The 4th Industrial revolution has been the talk of the town for over a few years now. A lot of new technologies that could change the world have been discussed at length. Of all these, potentially life-changing options like Big Data, AI, Genomics, and IoT, BlockChain technology is gathering momentum towards making a real difference in the lives of people across the globe.
Covering technical aspects of BlockChain is not my objective behind writing this blog, I am more interested in its real-life applications and how it can disrupt established businesses and socio/political setups.
BlockChain consists of two components, asymmetric cryptography and Distributed Systems spread across the globe. It is a peer to peer system with no centralized control. No service provider or controller over the vast network of computers. By design, BlockChain is going to be the most secure system of collaboration with all the checks and balances built in to avoid unauthorized transactions. The blockchain is a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO). (Sorry…I know, I could not resist the temptation of getting into technicalities J I was a CISSP.) Decentralization of the analysis & decision-making process and removal of the intermediaries/agents are the basic principles of BlockChain.
I would like to mention here that we need to keep Bitcoin aside for some time. BlockChain does not start and end at BitCoin. The blockchain is the technology behind bitcoin. Bitcoin is one of the many products of BlockChain technology. It is like saying the Internet is the technology behind the email. The Internet does not start and end with emails. There is much more to the internet than email. Similarly, there is much more to the BlockChain than the Bitcoin.
Democracy 1.0 gave ordinary men and women access to the decision making process behind choosing their governments and rulers. Democracy 2.0 made all kinds of information available to everybody with access to the internet. Google is the principal architect of Democratizing access to information.
A lot of social and political changes have taken place after Google almost single-handedly flattened the world. Unfortunately, influential groups and lobbies with their special interests and agendas managed to keep a large section of society away from this democratic revolution by using various ways and means of subverting and diverting the mainstream objectives of the democratic processes. Large corporations and conglomerates were also part of this subversion.
According to the World Bank, 74% of the world population does not have access to basic financial services. Even in the USA which is a financial superpower, 50% of the population does not have access to financial services. With the growing penetration of smartphones and the availability of cheap internet access, a vast section of the information access deprived populace will get instant access and power to share information, wealth, and ideas with the whole world. Access to financial services and the ability to transact directly with the buyer or seller without any meddling by the middlemen will undoubtedly help get out of the vicious circle of poverty.
The blockchain is inherently going to empower individuals to conduct their business transactions without the involvement of any middlemen or screening authorities. All the middlemen who are thriving in the current setup are going to find it difficult to make their living only by acting as commission agents and conduits.
The blockchain is designed to put end users and end customers in direct contact with the parties they want to deal with. It is based on permissionless trust, decentralized approval, and the decision-making process. Two peers transacting business do not need pre-established trust or relationship. There is no need to go to the central authorities for permission to carry out business.
For example, Sub-Saharan countries get a lot of support in terms of aid money and other necessary food and infrastructure-related items from different organizations, individuals, and states across the globe. A lot of aid money gets transferred to this region every year. By conservative estimates, 30 billion dollars (2.22 lac crore rupees @ 74 Rs conversion rate) are charged as transaction fees when banks transfer this aid money from nations/organizations to the benefactors. That is a massive amount for the facilitation of money transfer. BlockChain can help bring the benefactor and the parties providing this aid together without the involvement of agent financial institutions. The money can be transferred directly in peer to peer fashion.
Disrupting The Applecart (Business & Workforce)
Blockchain can disrupt almost every industry. It is expected to disrupt the banking industry in the same way Internet disrupted Media/Music industry. Following are some of the sectors which are going to be disrupted most fundamentally. Their business models are going to be challenged fundamentally in the ‘Kodak’ style.
- Banking & Financial Services, e.g., R3 CEV working with 80+ member consortium of banks, regulators & partners to develop Cords a Blockchain platform
- Cybersecurity, e.g., Guardtime
- Internet Identity and DNS, e.g., Blockstack & uPort
- Critical Infrastructure Security, e.g., Xage & Guardtime
- Internet Advertising, e.g., BRAVE
- Education and Academia, e.g. Sony Global Education and Learning Machine-MIT
- Supply Change Management, e.g. Provenance, Hijro & Skuchain
- Forecasting, Research, Consulting, and Analysis, e.g. Augur
- Networking and Internet of Things
- Insurance, e.g.Stratumn and Lemon Way ( LenderBot)
- Car Sharing and Aggregators like Uber, e.g. Arcade City
- Car Leasing & Sales, e.g. DocuSign-Visa
- Cloud Storage e.g. FileCoin (Protocol Labs) & Storj
- Cloud Computing, e.g. Project Golem
- Charity, e.g. BitGive Foundation’s GiveTrack platform
- Voting, e.g. Follow My VOte
- Government Systems, e.g. Dubai Government
- Public Benefit Systems, e.g. UK Govt and GovCoin
- Government and Public Records, e.g., Delaware Blockchain Initiative, BitFury Group in Georgia
- HealthCare, e.g. Gem and Tierion, Philips Blockchain Lab
- Energy Management, e.g. Transactive Grid ( JV – LO3 Energy & ConsenSys)
- Online Music, Entertainment and IP, e.g. Mycelia, JAAK, BigchainDB
- Retail, e.g. OpenBazaar
- Real Estate, e.g.Ubitquity
- Crowdfunding, e.g. Openledger and Movies like BRAID
- Sports Management, e.g. The JetCoin Institute
- Business and Corporate Governance, e.g. Boardroom app & Aragon
- 3D Printing & Manufacturing, e.g. Genesis of Things startup
- Publishing, e.g. Authorship and PageMajik
- Fishing, e.g. ConsenSys and SeaQuest Fiji
- Photography, e.g. KODAKOne
- Public Assistance, e.g., GovCoin Systems for UK government
- Video Streaming, e.g., VideoCoin Network, Livepeer, and Stream
On similar lines, a lot of solutions are getting developed which can directly challenge the existing market leaders.
Viewly and D Tube are working on YouTube kind of solution.
Everipedia is working on Wikipedia type of common information platform.
Dubai government is aspiring to become the first BlockChain powered state. It is estimated that this Blockchain initiative can save 1.5 billion USD savings per year due to enhanced productivity. This can be achieved by moving to a paperless government by using Blockchain document processing which will remove 100 million paper transactions per year.
The Estonian government is working with Ericsson on a BlockChain initiative to build a new data center that will store all the public records.
Samsung is working with the South Korean government to develop a blockchain platform for public safety and transport applications.
Barclays is using its blockchain banking services solution for 2-3 years now. A lot of banks are developing their own blockchain platforms and solutions.
MISSING THE BUS
We can see the amount of groundbreaking work that is happening on the BlockChain technology and its applications. A lot of people who are happily working now in these industries are going to get a very nasty surprise of either termination or reskilling in a concise period. Newcomers entering the corporate world will have to be on their toes to keep themselves updated with the latest trends and skillset requirements.
Ethernet has ruled IT networking for the last 30 odd years, Ethereum (a blockchain variant) may rule the next 20 years… who knows…
Let us keep ourselves updated and be ready for the Blockchain future.
Let us not find ourselves blocked in stagnant careers by the chains of our lethargy and callous attitude.
Future is here, and it is BLOCKCHAIN.
What Else? What Are The Other Incoming Disruptors?
Let us have a look at some of the areas of advanced technology innovations happening around the globe. These technologies are going to change the way we do our business and the way we lead our daily lives.
1. Big Data Analytics
Big Data is a phrase used to mean a massive volume of both structured and unstructured data that is so large that it is difficult to process using traditional database and software techniques. In most enterprise scenarios, the volume of data is too big or it moves too fast or it exceeds current processing capacity.
2. Artificial Intelligence
Artificial intelligence is the branch of computer science concerned with making computers behave like humans.
3. IoT (Internet Of Things)
IoT is short for the Internet of Things. The Internet of Things (IoT) refers to the ever-growing network of physical objects that feature an IP address for internet connectivity, and the communication that occurs between these objects and other Internet-enabled devices and systems.
Genomics is a study of the genomes of organisms. Its main task is to determine the entire sequence of DNA or the composition of the atoms that make up the DNA and the chemical bonds between the DNA atoms. Knowledge of the DNA sequence has become an important part of biological research but it is also of vital importance in other research areas including medicine, biotechnology, forensic, etc.
5. 3D Printing
3D Printing is an additive manufacturing process that creates a physical object from a digital design. There are different 3D printing technologies and materials you can print with, but all are based on the same principle: a digital model is turned into a solid three-dimensional physical object by adding material layer by layer.
Nanoscience and nanotechnology are the study and application of extremely small things and can be used across all the other science fields, such as chemistry, biology, physics, materials science, and engineering. Today’s scientists and engineers are finding a wide variety of ways to deliberately make materials at the nanoscale to take advantage of their enhanced properties such as higher strength, lighter weight, increased control of light spectrum, and greater chemical reactivity than their larger-scale counterparts.
Biotechnology is the use of biological processes, organisms, or systems to manufacture products intended to improve the quality of human life. The earliest biotechnologists were farmers who developed improved species of plants and animals by cross-pollination or crossbreeding.
8. Quantum Computing
Quantum computing is the area of study focused on developing computer technology based on the principles of quantum theory, which explains the nature and behavior of energy and matter on the quantum (atomic and subatomic) level. The quantum computer, following the laws of quantum physics, would gain enormous processing power through the ability to be in multiple states, and to perform tasks using all possible permutations simultaneously.
All the above-mentioned technologies are very new from the point of industrial application perspective. Industrial leaders and scientists are working around the clock on practical applications of these technologies. The industrial-grade application of these technologies will completely transform the Manufacturing and consumption patterns.
The human aspect of this disruptive change will also be guided by a percentage of the young population, rising middle class, early adoption of technology, and improved purchasing power of this segment. Let us be ready…