When I was given this assignment, it brought me back to my fist day in technology 16 years ago (yes, I’m old and social media still scares me a bit). I remember thinking I have no idea what anyone is talking about and I wished everyone would speak in complete sentences and stop using “Buzz Words” that I don’t know. What I really realized is I had a lot to learn. So how did I come up with the five Buzz Words below? It’s a combination of what I hear every day, talking with peers and doing some research.
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
This is an obvious one and even people who aren’t in technology have heard of it. Self-driving cars comes to mind first. The formal explanation is AI refers to the autonomous intelligent behavior of software or machines that have a human-like ability to make decisions and to improve over time by learning from experience. Different approaches include statistical methods, computational intelligence and traditional symbolic AI. There are a large number of tools used in AI, including versions of search and mathematical optimization, logic and methods based on probability and economics. In business intelligence, there has been movement from static reports on what has already happened to real-time analytics assisting businesses with more accurate reporting. The ability to make changes in real time that could impact revenues is incredibly powerful. Think of tracking customers movements (not just traffic patterns but eye movements and body language) in stores so you could sell shelf space at a premium daily (think supermarkets). AI enables you to see what is happening at every moment, and send alerts when something isn’t following the norm.
Finally, there is the social impact of AI. Robots have been around for a very long time but performed the same task in repetition. This enabled factories to perform certain tasks at a speed and pace that humans couldn’t compete with causing job loss. Now, Robots (software and machines) have the ability to learn in real time enabling them to take on more human like task and take even more jobs from humans. Think of the success of Uber and how many people the company employees. The real profits come when the cars drive themselves!
Blockchain and Bitcoin have been all over the news as well and have been the most talked about Buzz Words since late 2017. Blockchain and more specifically Bitcoin have been constantly discussed at the water cooler after Bitcoin went crazy and surpassed the price of gold for the first time. In 2017, its value climbed from less than $1,000 to over $10,000. Although the price as dropped significantly in 2018 the technology is here to stay.
Everyone has heard of the blockchain, but few understand how it works due to its complexity. The blockchain works with Bitcoin, and depending on the circles you run in, Bitcoin was either:
- The shadiest thing that has ever happened to the internet
- The coolest innovation in modern currency, ever
- A non-factor since you had no idea what it was
Bitcoin is a system of currency that doesn’t rely on banks, countries, or any outside institutions. This is potentially a very big deal, as there are many people living in developing countries that have to deal with issues like hyperinflation, not being able to exchange their currency for others, and having to exchange currency on the black market. In addition, think of the overhead (cost) the financial system charges us every day to protect, manage and move money. Bitcoin together with the protection of Blockchain has the potential to eliminate this costly layer and crush banking profits.
Bitcoin has the ability to solve the previously mentioned – but the technology underlying Bitcoin, called Blockchain, is the where the rubber meets the road. Blockchain is what enables Bitcoin users to be able to exchange currency without any being ripped off or getting “counterfeit” Bitcoin. Basically, blockchain works by keeping a record of each transaction that happens using Bitcoin as a currency. This record is completely transparent to everyone and is part of the fundamental structure of Bitcoin.
The Blockchain structure makes it very difficult to forge Bitcoin or do any sort of fraudulent activities involving the currency. Even though Bitcoin and Blockchain technology is viewed as a threat to the banking system many of the banks have started using it to pay large amounts of money with less time spent on security, thanks to the safety of the Blockchain.
Another IT buzzword is the Serverless architecture. It refers to an application that relies on third-party services (or “BaaS”, Backend as a Service), or on custom code run in ephemeral containers (also called “FaaS”, Function as a Service). The name can be confusing but Serverless computing is not running code without servers. It is called Serverless from a developer’s point of view. The person or the business who owns the systems doesn’t need to buy, rent or provision servers or machines to run the backend code. Basically, they don’t have to manage servers.
It works because it lets developers focus on their central business problem instead of worrying about patching servers another time, or spending too long on building complex systems. Unfortunately, not all applications can be implemented Serverless-style. Legacy systems or public cloud bring limitations. Serverless architecture does bring benefits like reduced operational and development costs, reduced time to market, and an enhanced productivity but there are some downsides. It is not optimal for high-performance computing and its workload because of the resources limits imposed by cloud providers.
Internet of Things
Without question, Internet of Things (IoT) is one of the most popular buzzwords in recent memory and will continue to go mainstream as its applications become more physical.
As society continually becomes more plugged in, the physical world around us is right behind and will become one big information system. The amount of digital data consumed and digested will be endless. Everyday physical objects will be connected to the Internet and to each other creating a stream of intelligence. The challenge for manufacturers will be creating an end user experience that will be seamless across devices. Imagine an endless set of end points where people access applications and information. The use cases are endless, mobile devices, wearables, home electronics etc. Basically, anything you want to monitor and have access to will be available.
So, the obvious question is why aren’t we monitoring everything now. Sounds easy right? The answer is us, meaning there is a race to own the market. There are too many competing platforms to have seamless integration at this point in time. Think of the big three (Google, Amazon & Apple), they all have different eco systems that make cross platform integration challenging. But, like anything involving money I am sure it is only a matter of time for them to figure it out.
By far, Digital Detox is my favorite technology buzz word and for one simple reason. I’m a father. I’m not anti-technology and it’s safe to say the digitization of everything has brought endless advancements to our world. The advancements in healthcare alone are stunning. But at the same time, where has the off button gone? My generation (Gen X) struggles as parents because we remember what is was like to be raised without technology but are forced to embrace it because our children are engulfed in it. The anxiety are children (adults as well) feel when not connected is very real. The prioritization of a Digital Detox needs to be as important as sleeping or eating.
Many people have developed the “phantom vibration syndrome”, that sensation to feel or hear our phone buzzing while it doesn’t. Everyday there is a new article discussing the negative impact of social media and smart phones on our brains. FOMO, Fear of Missing Out, is a real issue for many of us. Professionally speaking, being always connected has increased efficiencies and improved customers access to problem resolution but at what cost? If we leave our smart phones in the car while we eat are we bad employees?
With such an exponential innovation pace in technology, it can be nice to remind ourselves and the world around us that humans and human brains are not machines and not computers and a digital detox is all we need to reconnect with ourselves.