Analog driven digital world? An update is needed!

The analog age is over, and the digital age has long since begun. How can the data-driven world be made future-proof? - Answers from the new GDI study "The End of Consumption".

This text is based on an excerpt of the GDI-study “The End of Consumption as We Know It – When data makes retail superfluous”. Download here.

A digital society is our future. We are still in the early stages of this major technological transformation. The invention of writing enabled complex organisations like empires; the telegraph empowered the railway and the telephone for the automobile century, today information and communication technologies are the basis of change.

The invention of the smartphone enables social media and the sharing of various information through text, image, and video. The smartphone demonstrates that the power of digitisation is not limited to the production sector (Industry 4.0), but extends to the interconnected spheres of society and people.

Digitisation may be the modern-day example of the automobile’s impact on the economy and society. The automotive industry has dominated entire societies of the 20th century far beyond its own manufacturing boundaries. The “car-friendly town” in its extreme form was a planned suburban utopia (or rather, dystopia) of the mid-20th century. Fast forward to today, the automobile is factored into every aspect of urban, suburban and rural planning and transportation systems.

Here in particular, the transformation towards a digital society can be traced. It is to be expected that high investments will be made in network infrastructures in cities and on motorways in order to be ready for the data requirements of autonomous driving. These data networks will also be repurposed for any number of other uses, putting more pressure on municipal infrastructures. The advanced development of smart devices will be the business model of the 21st century.

Continuous data updates are not only becoming a characteristic of software, they will also impact people psychologically. Updates are continuously automated to capture data in real time and the user receives only a completion report. It is no longer necessary to consult the doctor for every inexplicable pain when personal digital health updates indicate precisely what the symptoms represent. Human beings will gradually develop an update mentality, open to the willingness to learn continuously, improve step by step and share data with people, machines and systems.

ICT Internet

A critical condition for the shi to a digital society is the expansion of data infrastructures for the IoT and its nextgen sibling, the IoAT. All-embracing networking and automated data exchange between machines (M2M), but also between machines and humans, are required. The energy needed for this can be generated sustainably, for example through smart grids and micro grids - i.e. with intelligent grids that collect and pass on electricity from different suppliers or with locally defined power grids.

However, the preconditions for change also include a rethink in politics and administration. Without rough, but clear and constantly adaptable ideas of future networked infrastructures as guidelines, the basic prerequisites for change will be missing. Without this input, integrated networking cannot succeed, and without it, the data-driven economy cannot take off.