Throughout history, technological innovation has prompted the acceleration of expansion in business. From the invention of the wheel and more recently air travel: in 1839 Royal Mail Post delivered around 96 million chargeable letters. George Stephenson built the first public steam railway in the UK from Stockton to Darlington in 1829, and coupled with the Royal Mail reform, this technological advance helped to increase the volume of mail in 1850 to almost 350 million.
Some people can be averse to change and treat it with suspicion they are worried about losing their jobs and that machines or technology will take over the world. This is brought in to sharp relief when we start talking about the Internet of Things and how we can record, monitor and report upon data from billions of distinct devices. One interesting figure is the fact that by 2020 it is said that there will be 25 billion devices connected to the internet and all of these devices have the ability to record or transmit data. It could be said that this is the equivalent of the steam train of the 19th century by giving us the ability to send information quicker and in greater amounts.
When the steam train was invented people were very wary of this new technology and in the 1830’s there were fears it would be impossible to breathe while traveling at such a velocity, or that the passengers’ eyes would be damaged by having to adjust to the motion. This fear will always be present when changes occur but hopefully with less of the perceived physical side effects.
Inventions and changes are still moving our world off kilter, it’s just the time between each one is getting shorter and we have to adapt with more speed. Luckily enough these inventions can also give us the tools to adapt quickly.
As the amount of data we record accelerates through the realms of zetabytes, terabytes, petabytes and exabytes let’s make sure we use this data and don’t just store it in the data equivalent of a sock drawer. So change can be good and at times essential but this change must be monitored and governed. Ultimately, change that is not communicated will just help to fuel people’s fears.
When these changes happen, because one thing you can be 100% sure of is that they will, let’s not be a passenger. Make sure you can harness the power of data not only for yourself but the very edges of your organization and as author Lois Horowitz once said:
“Not having the information you need when you need it leaves you wanting. Not knowing where to look for that information leaves you powerless. In a society where information is king, none of us can afford that”