The pandemic has catalysed 4IR adoption - is your business ready? - TechCentral

The pandemic has catalysed 4IR adoption – is your business ready?

At the close of the last decade, a lot of predictions were made about what technologies were set to trend as evolutionary and revolutionary. Little did we know that, thanks to a global pandemic, future predictions would be fast-tracked, in some cases to instant adoption.

The unprecedented loss of lives and livelihoods necessitated a new way of life – and daily use of tech that organisations had somewhere on their road maps for future consideration.

The use, for example, of GPS, Bluetooth, cellphone masts and AI-powered big data analytics in contact tracing across the globe has shown businesses how existing technologies can work together in ways that, though now obvious, are somewhat revolutionary.

As these developments prove their worth through use cases coming to light, forward-thinking businesses are grappling with how to take advantage of opportunities, and as importantly, how to accommodate them. The rising number of connected smart devices constantly gathering data, connecting to other devices and sharing that data – all without human intervention – is a case in point. Given the scenario described above, it can only follow that further augmentation of processing power and capacity of machines is now required to process the big data volumes, velocity and variability.

Transforming data volumes into intelligence

In 2018, Logi Analytics wrote on a major market shift and what it termed the death of traditional BI. The company declared that the future lay in embedded analytics and even though some traditional business intelligence (BI) vendors “dabble” in embedded analytics, they fall short.

As collected data increases in unprecedented volumes, so the ordering and management of it must adapt. Traditional BI will not cope, and while this transition may not be fully adopted for some time, recent world events have been catalytic in ushering in a climate where embedded analytics is a requirement – particularly where mobile reporting and visual workflows are concerned.

Those slow to adopt transformation have been burned

Another prediction, which the pandemic clock pulled forward, was organisations’ need to take digital transformation seriously. In a matter of weeks, companies across the globe had to pivot to working from home, productively. Employee-related processes that had been done manually now need to be moved into the cloud. Additionally, companies began tracking employees’ work output, using various technologies.

Companies that had already embarked on the transformation path benefitted enormously from their ability to get up and running remotely, and quickly; those that had not yet begun the process often made makeshift plans and have been burned in the process.

While the digital transformation “horse” has been ruthlessly flogged, vendors are in a position to draft coherent plans on how to get their customers digitally transformed and provide products that can take them there. The use cases, and client experiences, have provided proof of value where it matters and market-ready software solutions now exist. And those still dragging their feet will suffer the same fate as the horse. The time of selling road maps is a thing of the past!

Conspiracies aside…

Many coronavirus conspiracy theories abound, one of which makes a connection between the so-called “plandemic” being used to usher in 5G technologies worldwide.

In truth, roll-out plans long pre-dated the pandemic, but pushback has mounted. In South Africa, government recently gazetted a policy allowing mobile networks to build cellphone infrastructure such as 5G towers on private land. Many have expressed dissent at this policy, citing, for one, concerns about radiation.

Objections aside, the private sector demand for ubiquitous 5G coverage is high, as organisations have rapidly deployed cloud infrastructure in response to remote working, and with the growth of the Internet of things, the need for 5G technologies is fast overcoming the fears surrounding them.

AI: Good or evil?

AI For Good hosted a discussion on 3 April 2020 that looked at using mobile phones and AI for contact tracing while respecting privacy. The line between invasion of privacy and the “common good” is certainly a thin one, with most such debates happening in the US, where measures implemented to combat the spread of the virus have seen the nation’s founding principles trampled underfoot in what has been termed the violation of citizens’ civil rights. Additionally, whether or not such newly enacted laws will be rescinded once we are in the clear is causing consternation among many. Historically, this tends not to be the case as was seen following the 9/11 attacks.

Multiple arguments can be made for and against such AI use cases. A case in point being deep fakes, which, in allowing for the superimposition of one person’s face over another, could easily lead to the distortion of truth. What Covid has resulted in is a familiarity of the technology for the “man in the street”, a better understanding of what it is, and how it works. For business, the opportunities are endless – from marketing amplification to predictive behaviour analysis and customer retention or experience algorithms, the pandemic has brought this technology into the everyday.

Evaluating the opportunities

These are just a couple of developments in the ICT space that have been directly impacted, advanced or in some way altered by the pandemic. And, as history has taught us, there’s no going back now.

At TIC-IT, we believe that good decisions are informed decisions – impossible when the sheer volume of new information can be completely overwhelming. We pride ourselves in solving complex problems simply – using 4IR technologies wrapped in in-depth consulting.

About TIC-IT Telecoms
TIC-IT Telecoms solves complex ICT problems, simply. With expertise in data analytics and business intelligence, IoT, networking, project management and consulting, TIC-IT takes a personalised approach to customise solutions to delivery on businesses’ most pressing ICT needs.

  • Taboka Sapepa is senior business intelligence Consultant, TIC-IT Telecoms
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