Digitisation and the impact across generations is now an interesting and valuable debate. There should be no doubt that digitisation is already delivering immense value but is the relentless drive to “digitise” everything unifying or dividing the social and working world (a discussion for another day)?.
My passport details do not hide the fact I am “Generation X” therefore hailing from an era without “digital personas” at the core but I am equally fortunate to possess a digital journey that did not commence at the dawn of the Smartphone era or more recently the industry restart of the digitisation agenda. I can fondly recount my early days in information technology (which span back to punched cards and mainframe tapes !!) when the “digital” world we now deem our norm first spawned. Back then a fair degree of resistance to information technology (IT) was evident due to natural human fears of change and equally the unexpected results delivered by IT systems of the day. And as many prepare for the new Star Wars extravaganza, concerns of “beings from out outer space” and even the potential takeover of the society and humanity we hold dear by “the machines” were ever present.
If I fast forward to now, the binding between humans and technology is very different – we have an umbilical style dependency on digital technology without a fear of inconsistent results, in fact quite the opposite due to a common reliance on IT solutions to deliver workload “consistency”. And the human concerns of “the machines” taking over the world have been replaced by a global “welcome mat” for technology based assets driving digital elements forward at warp speed to do just that, “run our lives”.
It is this humble journey of that has allowed me to tag myself a “Digital Inspirer” (albeit a reluctant one at times) as I have enjoyed my role as one of the human change agents flying a flag for IT and digital technologies from the dawn of the modern computing era to the present day. Does this history deliver extra credence or deeper immersion into all things digital, potentially but through my own experience heavily tempered by a perspective that places human expectations at the core of all technology aligned outcomes?
A temptation may exist if people flip into enthused technologist mode to “do digital” or “become digital” with the drive to force technology forward without a qualified and validated overwhelming human need to embrace it. This mistake has been made with numerous technology centric “must have” initiatives over the past 30 years (and many years prior) resulting in a fundamental stall prior to solution adoption. Fortunately the digitisation drive today is different from those past technology led initiatives that remained “technology centric” interpretations. From a two year old child swiping the screen of an ipad mini to a £100000 production car handshaking continually for updates with the internet, the digitisation template we are now absorbing feels more human, more personal than any previous technology led evolution. The poster child for digitisation, the Internet of Everything (IOE) is already with us but the “everything” annotated will be a number of connected and different devices beyond our widest dreams. It is for me one of the most exciting and potentially human impacting digitisation perspectives as our imagination will be the only limiting factor that impedes progress.
2016 is set to be an amazing year with the digitisation impact at the heart.
Until next time.
Chief Technologist – Computacenter UK, Networking, Security & UC
The British are famous for being quite reserved, at times cynical and in the views of many not that good at celebrating success. However all of that changed a fortnight ago when London 2012 captivated the nation. In the worlds of Lord Coe “we did it right”, and how we did it right. But the countrywide euphoria and team GB success wasn’t the only high point, “the Network worked”.
I must admit that I hoped it would but still feared the worst. This was set to be the “Digital games” and at times I joined the many prophets of doom prior to the Olympics with forecasts of network slowdowns due to the volume of standard and high definition video expected across worldwide networks. But like “Y2K” and many of the previous “digital Armageddon’s” nothing untoward happened. The digital universe underpinned by the Internet and mobilised by the new wave of highly interactive mobile users, watched, snapped (digital photos), streamed (video, online content) and “shared” when they wanted to – how they wanted to. And the Network just “worked”.
The recent figures released from the BBC are compelling and surely throw down the gauntlet for the Olympics in Rio 2016.
55m (global) and 37m (UK) browsers to the BBC Sport site in total across the Games (with the previous record for a single day was 7.4m global and 5.7m UK). And the records continued to tumble with 106m overall requests for BBC Olympic video content, more than double seen for any previous events. And let’s not forget our “on the movers” with 34% of the daily users mobile browsers with 12m requests for video from mobiles. I cant end this BBC digital roundup without mentioning my daughters favourite, “the BBC Red Button” with 23.7m viewers to the 24 SD, HD and Freeview streams throughout the Games, and every single stream seeing at least 100,000 viewers.
This leads me to a recent enlightening meeting with Jeremy Wallis the UK CTO of Netapp with discussions of the pervasiveness of 10Gb Ethernet as an enabler of simple, high performance storage connectivity. Checking back to the BBC figures, 2.8 petabytes of content was requested across the Olympics, with the peak traffic moment occurring when Bradley Wiggins won Gold with over 700 Gb/s. This is a sounding cry for those who forget to place storage and the network hand in hand.
Away from the anecdotes the hard numbers highlight the “network” took everything thrown at it across the Olympics period and more and just delivered. It even endorsed a working approach we have dabbled with from the earliest network “connected” environments – remote home & teleworking. Who can forget those empty central London streets and congestion free trains and UK PLC on mass where possible “working from home” (ok, maybe the park on a tablet computer). The remote access and corporate connectivity platforms seamlessly handled not just the existing corporate remote worker pool but also the short term “Olympic home worker” pool without a hiccup – surely heralding a new dawn in organisational approaches to redress the work life balance.
And what now, do we applaud gleefully the magical performance of global networks and shrink back into the “old way” of doing things. I suggest not, as the digital template delivered and embraced for the 2012 Olympics has surely proved the network is not only here to stay but is now a fundamental part of who we are.
Maybe those 70s and 80s SciFi films weren’t that far off the mark after all.
Until next time