THE EVOLUTION OF TECHNOLOGY: PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE
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.
PURPOSE DRIVES TECHNOLOGY FORWARD
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.
THE PAST: WORLD, MEET THE INTERNET
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.
THE PRESENT: SNAPS, CHATS AND DOUBLE TAPS
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.
THERE’S AN APP FOR THAT
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.
MYSPACE, YOURSPACE, BOOKFACE: THE SOCIAL MEDIA AWAKENING
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 (VIRTUALLY, SPEAKING)
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.
CUTTING THE CORD: THE ERA OF VIDEO STREAMING
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…
TODAY’S TECH FORECAST: ICLOUDY DAYS AHEAD
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.
THE FUTURE: EMERGING TRENDS ON THE HORIZON
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.
SMART IS THE NEW SEXY
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.
THE INTERNET OF THINGS
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.
WHY BOTHER KEEPING UP WITH TECHNOLOGY?
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:
- Follow industry blogs (like ours!)
- Listen to industry leaders
- Follow topics on social media
- Join groups (online and in-person)
- Listen to podcasts
- Engage in tech forums
- Subscribe to relevant eNewsletters
- Set up Google alerts