This article originally appeared on Fin24Tech SovTech Article and is written by Michael Stannard, Head of Business Development at SovTech.
YOU may have heard the terms, ‘internet of things’, ‘big data’, ‘disruptive technology’ and ‘exponential technology’ being bandied about by the media.
Casually using terminology that no one else understands is a staple tactic for sounding extremely authoritative. But let’s cut to the chase and tell it like it is.
The Internet of Things
The Internet of Things really just means that instead of only your computer or phone being connected to the internet, tech companies now want to connect almost everything to the internet.
Shoes, dishwashers, crops, swimming pools, geysers, breakfast cereals can potentially be part of the internet of things. It would, after all, be cool to know that the sensor in your pool says it’s time for more chlorine. But then your chlorine says it’s finished. So it orders more chlorine all on its own. Or you could just look at the pool, see that it’s green and put chlorine on the list. But where’s the fun in that? Anyway, hopefully that clears up the term. The internet of things just means that more than just electronics are connected to the big network.
A pretty obvious one this, but some might be confused by the simplicity. Big data just means a lot of data. Where is this new large amount of data coming from? Why from all the things on the internet of course! If your shoes, dishwashers, crops, swimming pools, geysers and breakfast cereals are all connected to the internet, they all feed information onto the network in the form of data. The amount of chlorine in the pool water, the average temperature of the geyser, the manufacture date of the cereal, all of this information is data. When you have that many things generating data, it adds up to a large amount of data.
It sounds awful. Who wants to be disrupted ever? Well, apparently we all do. Or rather we need to be. Basically what the guys in San Francisco are trying to say is that we need to challenge the status quo on certain things because with the help of technology, we can do things far more efficiently than we are now. A simple example is driverless cars. You have to admit that after over a hundred years of getting used to drivers being needed to operate cars, not needing a driver is pretty disruptive. Disruptive isn’t awful at all. It’s pretty great.
Let’s not bite off more than we can chew. The last term for today is exponential technology. I’m going to take it as a given that we all understand what exponential means.
Exponential growth results in a hockey stick shaped graph, where growth is not linearly related to time. Growth of what? Well anything really. Let’s say we are measuring the amount of patients we can diagnose for heart disease in a year. At present, that requires blood samples to be taken by a human and tests to be conducted by a human. Those humans have to be highly qualified to do those jobs. As a result, there is a very small amount of people who can test you for heart disease relative to the amount of people who need testing. i.e. everyone on earth. (Yes you as well, you know you shouldn’t have had that pie at lunch.) If you look at the graph for how many blood tests can be done per year, it will look pretty flat because the doctors have a finite amount of time available to them. But now imagine some 23 year old whippersnapper in California, who reads computer code like Keanu Reeves reads the ‘Matrix’, and comes up with a way to test blood using a handheld device that can test for heart disease, flu, cancer etc in one minute with no assistance from a nurse. That device can also prescribe the medicine required to cure that disease with no input from a doctor. With that kind of technology you can test billions of people per year. The ratio between time and growth changes from linear to exponential. Technology = Exponential growth. Hence: Exponential technology.
* See the original article Fin24Tech SovTech Business Software: http://www.fin24.com/Tech/Opinion/Popular-tech-terms-decoded-20150527