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Technology runs our lives these days. Smartphones, tablets and computers – we really can’t seem to function without them. In a very short amount of time, technology has exploded in the market and now, many people cannot imagine a life without it.
To understand how we left the dark ages (which really wasn’t all that long ago) to where we are today, it is important to understand how technology evolves and why it matters.
All technologies are born out of purpose. For example, search engines were created to sort through the massive amounts of data online. With each new upgrade technology compounds existing technologies to create something better than what was previously used before. And on and on it goes.
With the lightning speed of technological evolution, it is no wonder many people have struggled to keep up. To be fair, the scope of technology’s expanse is so great, wrapping everything up into a single blog post is practically impossible.
Here is just a brief glimpse into how rapidly the Internet and technology as a whole have evolved in recent years.
Looking back to the 1990’s, the Internet was a new commodity many, but not all, households and businesses began to gain access. For people living during that time, the sound of the painfully slow dial up signal connecting to the Internet is a not-so-fond memory (EEEE-AAAAAHH!!!!).
Thankfully, as more people found value in the Internet, technology took off to eliminate having to use a phone line to go online and instead delivered faster connections to the World Wide Web.
Websites advanced along with the internet. Suddenly, everyone had a Geocities or Tripod website dedicated to themselves. Just in infancy, websites were basic in both function and design. This is also the time when the blogging craze started to set in on the consumer level with the introduction of “weblogs” (later condensed to “blogs”). Remember Xanga? If only we knew then what we know now.
A few years later, sharing information gradually started to become easier. Instead of handing over a floppy disc or CD-ROM, people began emailing documents or storing large files on USB sticks or flash drives.
As new technologies started to pop-up, each technology would compound and build to form a better, faster and stronger piece of technology. With this speedy development, the Internet changed the way people live, work and operate today.
Fast-forward a short decade later (side note: remember VHS tapes!? The OG fast-forward? OK, moving on…).
Since the days of dial-up, access to the Internet is available almost everywhere. It is rare these days for consumers to go into a coffee shop, library or any place of business and not be able to access a Wi-Fi signal. If there isn’t a Wi-Fi signal in close range, most people still have access to the Internet via their cellular data connection on their smartphones and personal hotspots, no problem.
With this anywhere/anytime access to the Internet, businesses created web applications to answer common needs of consumers. These applications can do everything from tracking food portions to sending massive amounts of information in a click of a button.
How we communicate continued to evolve as well. Remember face-to-face conversations? Hand-written letters? Waiting by the phone – the kind with the cord?
Technology perpetually reshapes our communication.
Perhaps the most noticeable difference in the Internet today is the ability to be personable in such an impersonal setting. Constant connection seems to be the name of the game. And along with connection, we see instant availability. Bluetooth connections, talk-to-text, every form of messaging apps – while you’re driving, in meetings, at home. Connection. Everywhere.
We’ve watched texting evolve from sending text-only messages (literally texting) to the addition of imagery, thanks to the viral spread of gifs, memes, emojies and bitmojies. In fact, with the spike in video-sharing, actual text is shrinking (meet SnapChat, Instagram Stories, Facebook Stories, Periscope, Vine, etc. and shorthand abbreviations). SMH.
Social networks continue to change the way people engage with one another. Ironically, the constant connection and way people interact with one another seems to morph to a more superficial setting online. Although superficial at times, this form of communication helps people stay closer to each other when they would have otherwise lost contact.
Face-to-face conversations via technology are resurfacing, though, and even strengthening, thanks to higher-quality video and streaming capabilities (enter: Skype, Google Hangouts, Zoom, FaceTime, live streaming, etc.). With more people engaging in web/video conferencing online, geographic barriers that once hindered communication were torn down. Instead, companies can engage with consumers in a more human manner, people can talk to people face-to-face without the need for costly travel and reaching out to people all over the world is faster and easier.
Remember when Netflix was a primarily a DVD delivery company, bringing your favorite movie via mail? Back when binge-watching wasn’t a thing?
Today, people are cutting the cord when it comes to cable, opting for digital streaming and video services like Netflix, YouTube and Hulu. Big brands are trying to keep up and compete, doing their best to one-up each other with original content, availability and delivery channels (e.g. Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Google TV, etc.). User-generated content is a force to acknowledge as well. Thanks to streaming options like Facebook Live, Instagram Live and Periscope, individuals and business are able to broadcast their own videos and content.
In a nutshell, videos are popping up everywhere and trending big time. And they thought talking pictures would never last…
More people and companies are using cloud-based services for their business and store everything online instead of on a single device. This change will continue to have an enormous impact on the way business is done, transforming our once-traditional office environments and how people interact with companies on a regular basis. Flash drives are almost extinct with the prevalence of cloud storage, like iCloud, Google Drive, Dropbox and FTP sites.
With so many new technologies permeating the way people access information and access each other, the forward momentum looks promising for future technological developments.
As more existing technologies are stacked onto each other and developed into something greater, consumers and businesses alike can expect to see more opportunity with future technology. Technology will be faster, have the ability to accomplish more and everything will become more streamlined to make getting work done, easier.
While we don’t have the ability to predict the future, we can offer speculations on technology’s evolution. We are constantly seeing emerging media and new trends in technology to follow. Here are a few trends to watch for in the coming years.
And by “smart” we mean the continued evolution of smart devices and rise of artificial intelligence (AI) technology.
Smart devices will continue to evolve to work better together. These machines will share data automatically limiting the need for human involvement. Of course, it’s not just smartphones, watches, TVs or tablets anymore.
You’ll hear more and more about the “Internet of Things” (IoT) now and in the future. The deeper we dive into technology, the more it seems we try to blend the physical and virtual worlds together. Smart speakers, smart homes and even smart cars are the tech wave to ride in the future, but it’s just the beginning.
Think of the Internet of Things as a network of physical devices – like handheld gadgets, vehicles, home appliances or any kind of electronic item with embedded software or technology – connected together and able to exchange data.
Gartner, an analyst firm, speculates there will be more than 26 billion connected devices by 2020. Imagine a future where your car warns you of heavy traffic or your alarm clock notifies you about your coffee brewing itself in the kitchen. Imagine living in a smart home in a smart city.
In other words, the future happening is now. Or at least, it’ll be here sooner than you may think.
It’s a fair question. Technology is constantly changing and it sometimes feels like way too much effort to keep up with a moving target. Just remember - keeping up with technology adds value to your business.
Staying up-to-date helps ensure you don’t miss opportunities, become irrelevant or fall behind your competitors. Remember Kodak? They taught us all an invaluable lesson: don’t be afraid to embrace change.
Here are a few ways to keep up and stay informed:
Space may not be the final frontier as we thought. Technology is a frontier on its own, continuing to evolve, grow and reshape our world. As we continue to explore and expand technology, the more life will change, creating new habits and forming new ways of working together.
While the future is unknown, we believe in leveraging technology to create personalized approaches and solutions.