The real novelty of ICT lies in the new concepts that are supported by technologies and how they all converge around them.
We incorporate new technologies into our working and personal lives at such a rapid rate that most of us do not realise how novel many of these actually are anymore. The real novelty of ICT, however, lies in the new concepts that are supported by technologies and how they all converge around them.
The spectrum of ICT has increased tremendously over the past few years. Step by step ICT is spreading its presence and influence into every aspect of our lives including our most basic human needs, such as building social relations, playing sport and even sleeping - think of your cellphone waking you up every morning for instance.
The rate of technology expansion has increased as a direct result, with developments happening in every sector of the economy simultaneously. ICT thus ends up both driving us and reflecting the changes we have experienced as a society.
Few new technologies but a converging trend
Several technologies have been the talk of the town in 2007 and are likely to remain top-of-mind well into 2008. They vary across a wide spectrum of ICT applications and are as diverse as biometrics, RFID, WIMAX and, arguably, SOA. All of them are relatively new: they will no doubt evolve even more in 2008 due to new developments in the software industry.
Looking back at the past few years, the most interesting thing to note is how most technologies that used to relate to separate domains of our lives have extended their sphere of influence and, as a result, have converged together. Take RFID for instance. Initially developed as a retail sale technology, it is now additionally used as a pet tagging system or as a means to attach instructions to a product.
As a society, we have watched several technologies merge to form something new. Examples are numerous: ERP systems integrating CRM, cellphones becoming MP3 players, e-mail interface or digital cameras, e-mail servers supporting unified messaging.
Woven into our lives
In the future, technology will be used even more extensively to develop new life- and working-concepts, changing the way we think, interact and/or react. Think about how our time perception has changed since we started carrying cellphones 24/7. Remember how inconvenient and almost impossible it used to be to change plans last minute. We are evolving around these new life-concepts - none of which would have happened without technology. Let me list a couple of examples.
Each one of us is slowly building and interacting with a digital personality instead of our real life personality. The younger and very connected generation is more exposed to their digital personality as they play with avatars on network gaming or Second Life interfaces. Less-connected individuals are also building their digital personalities without realising it. Buying a book on Kalahari.net results in your creating a digital personality based on your preferences. Today, some CRM systems can even track the online behaviour of users roaming through their self-service interfaces.
Mobility is another of these new work- and life-concepts towards which technologies have converged. It started with hardware miniaturisation, and continued as remote Internet access became possible (including both the hardware and software aspects of this), and multiple technologies incorporated themselves into single all-in-one devices. The next step, happening as you read this, is the reformatting of increasingly diverse content for these single all-in-one devices. No time to read a book? Download an audio book and listen to it when you drive. An interesting TV or radio show that you really should watch, but which is broadcast at an inconvenient time can now be downloaded as a Podcast.
Digital personalities and mobility are only two of the new work- and life-concepts that are developing today, giving us a glimpse into where we can expect to find ourselves and ICT in the next few years to come.
Keith Fairhurst, director: EOH Technology Consulting
For more information contact Rentia Tutton, EOH, +27 (0)11 607 8100, firstname.lastname@example.org