At Your Fingertips. Time the Essence.

“What stands out right now, in school?” I ask my 13-year-old daughter over lunch; she recently shifted institutions. “What strikes you the most?”

“Their teaching method.. The way they turn theory into practice. That makes it more enjoyable. My previous school did not do that.”.

“Which experience was the most interesting?” I prod on.

“Chemistry, Biology experiments and Mathematics…” she rambles off.

Every subject in this school has an interactive method, be it a lab or use of mobile phones to answer questions in class, polls , videos etc., something the previous institution severely lacked.

Now extend that connection to what’s happening in the wider society.

1. Every person, every business is productive because of technology. Adopt/harness it for it’s larger good. Don’t repel it for it’s ill effects.

2. More power to the user. The age of control through interactions at fingertips, mostly.

On these, I attempt to take you through a fascinating journey.


Time …

Fifty years ago, my father was forced to walk for miles together to get to school.  Today, the school can essentially come to you, thanks to the internet (pipe) and university-led online courses(platform).  In saying that, the industry behind the education system has not progressed as much relative to others in the era of disruptive innovation.  Classrooms, big campuses…asset heavy.

Thirty years ago, I would walk/cycle to the post office to send a telegram.  The current generation is almost entirely oblivious to its previous existence. Today, thanks to the internet (pipe) and smart phone (platform), the “telegram” can be sent from your phone – SMS/WhatsApp etc. (platform).

The list of examples is endless and I’m certain that every example displays that which I’m about to present.

The “platforms” of yesterday (the telegram, certain aspects of schools, etc.) were associated with a place/position that needed to be reached by you, the user. Today, it’s quite the opposite.  In essence, efficiency and productivity have skyrocketed!  However, in having mentioned the idea of time, this doesn’t seem to be reflecting the current notion.  In a 24-hour day, 6-8 hours go towards sleep, 2-3 hours to travel, 6-8 hours to work/school and 2-4 hours to daily chores/routines.  Within these and more where are the unproductive hours? Technology is taking those hours out.

You have the power, the access at your fingertips.  Yes! You are the new King and that throne gets bigger with the epidemicity of disruptive technology powering the 4th industrial revolution.  Sadly for some, a point arrives when there’s not more to be had out of the 24 hours and work gets automated,cloned into machines.  Many skills of today will soon be history.

I’ve used the example of Uber before, in creating a platform for easy transportation through an experience of inconvenience. Every industry is seeing this transformation – Telecom through apps like WhatsApp and Vonage, Vacationing and tourism through Airbnb, Music through Spotify, Banking through Fintechs…

Hence, everything is reduced to pipes and platforms. Mostly everything…

This begs the question – have we left any stones unturned? Is there still potential for technology in those hours and beyond ? The simple answer –

Oh….Yes !

I sat in the back seat of a taxi in India, tortoising through traffic – 2 hours and counting , finished my calls etc., and now a frustration crept on me.  What if you could make transport an experience to help expand knowledge in the mean time?  What if we added Virtual Reality to the mundane act of travelling, taking us across the world to places like New Zealand or space, even.  Whether you’re stuck at a traffic junction or waiting in line to get a coffee, put relevant content into your hands and minds; maybe something about Elon Musk’s commercial transport for space travel – now than the future ?

Perhaps entertaining yourself whilst in the washroom, through a touchscreen, interactive mirror that plays news/videos/movies? Until my wife screams me out of there of course…  My daily print edition of Straits Times lies coiled up –stacks of them.

How about healthcare? Avoid the travel and delay through a neighbourhood kiosk and robotic-arm, precision controlled by a specialist doctor several hundred, maybe thousand miles away thanks to near zero latency with 5G.

Education? What if we could bring the classroom to us through VR?

It won’t be long before someone finds a way to tap into the 6-8 hours of my sleep time in order to make it more productive!

So, what after all the unproductive slots in 24 hours are tapped into?   There has to be a limit right?   The boundaries of time – the 24 hours.  What if the boundaries of time are broken?   What if days turn into hours, and months into days? A challenge to the system of time…

The possibilities are endless.  However, there is a while before we begin to challenge time.  Before that stage, all predictable and structured work/tasks will be taken over by smart sensors, robotics and artificial intelligence.   Why have an office receptionist who speaks one language (perhaps two/three max) when you can have a robot that can speak a 100 languages, store several thousands of phone records, provide directions and bring you your customized coffee order?  Maybe even administer your blood pressure medicines.

A whopping 46% wastage of water in New Delhi every day.  Leakage being a major cause.  With smart sensors that detect leakage, it would change the game. 1.3 million road fatalities per year.  With current technology – sensors and 4G, it takes about 1.5m for an autonomous driven car to stop.  With 5G that could be an inch! Hardly 10% of people leaving the ICU get such monitoring facilities and as they go home next to none.


In summary

Every Industry, every job and every human is touched by technology. Embrace its benefits, don’t reject it.

Yesterday’s and today’s systems (banks, telecom, school, hospitals, etc.) will transform into mere pipes at the backend.  Technology proves so significant, that it will bring these necessities to your fingertips regardless.

Industrial revolution 4.0 will transform our existence; unsettling to some people.  With the increasing life expectancy and efficiency, will we be able to afford retiring at 65?  What skills do we need to learn, when machines are learning faster than humans.

The innate speed for change that technology is enforcing is, and will continue to effect the very fabric upon which society is built and sustains itself. 50 years from now, maybe the world of Transformers will merge with reality, and the war between machines and humans in iRobot will indeed happen.  I may not be here to see that, but I do enjoy the thought that I may see space or Mount Everest seated at the back of a taxi, with 5G live-streaming content at the edge of the network…

…And, as I enjoy the final ascent up Mount Everest, my little robot friend – Gurubot, back seated is whirring away processing 100’s of Megabytes of data for my next meeting. Crystallising insights from my client’s financial statements, launch videos, network architecture, technician outlay, outages, their personas etc.  I trust what it takes to make a successful acquisition. Meanwhile my car with it’s 100+ sensors, powered by several on board computers keeps me safe, sharing some of it’s horsepower with Gurubot.  The era of cloud computing will be gone into the dark throws of the backroom, as a big fat pipe. That’s another story for my next blog.

Until then Happy Holidays as you usher in a brighter future.

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