Forty-eight years ago today (April 10, 1970), Paul McCartney announced the official breakup of the Beatles. It’s true that relations had been declining for some time, but Sir Paul’s announcement was the first public acknowledgement that the end had arrived. The reverberations of their music continues to ring through popular music even today. And although this tricenarian wasn’t around to witness their rise, as an audiophile I enjoy and appreciate their catalog of music and the course they charted for popular (and not-so-popular) music in the years to follow.
The point of this rock-n-roll prattle is that events occur that change the way we view the world. Not only did the Beatles change the trajectory of modern music, they reinvented the business side too. This week, I want to look backward and forward and highlight some of the things that had Beatles-esque impact on technology, and provide some thoughts on what is emerging that could have that level of disruption in the near future.
Where We’ve Been
The Internet – When DARPA created a way for remote computers to communicate, did they know it would eventually change the way the world communicates and conducts business? Doubtful. Think about it; for all of history a consumer would leave the next, go to some sort of marketplace, conduct a transaction, and return to the nest. In only about 50 years, a new marketplace that has never existed now is almost required to conduct business. Whoa.
Wireless Technology/Cell Phones– deTECH acknowledged the 40th anniversary of the cell phone several years ago. The ability to separate communication from wires has resulted in unprecedented mobility. Wireless technology cannot be decoupled from the impact of the internet and the shrinking size and increasing speed of computers. The consolidation of these technologies has crated basically unlimited amount of information to anyone at any time.
Where We’re Going
Artificial Intelligence – Artificial Intelligence has been brewing for a long time. If you ever watched the Jetsons, who didn’t want to robot house maid with an attitude? AI is beginning to emerge with the potential to significantly change how and how fast we interact with information. All of history has been humans learning through scientific inquiry, testing and observation. By automating the learning process, we position ourselves to learn and discover ourselves and our world exponentially faster than we have done throughout history. Whoa.
Blockchain – First of all, if you see the word “blockchain” and think it’s synonymous with “bitcoin”, stop that now. Sure, cryptocurrencies are supported by blockchain but the idea is more far-reaching than anonymous currencies. We addressed blockchain at a cursory level in 2016, but the trend continues to grow. At the most basic level, blockchain provides the concept and technology to generate “distributed trust” between two parties. The impact is best described in an August 2017 article from Fortune Magazine:
Blockchain boosters say its development is one that rivals, in significance, the invention of double-entry bookkeeping. That’s the revolutionary method of tabulating assets and liabilities that emerged in Renaissance Italy and that, according to some historians, put wind in the sails of capitalism, allowing investors and entrepreneurs to team up in corporations and launch merchant ships beyond the horizon in search of commercial success. Blockchains, in this analogy, are triple-entry bookkeeping, where the third entry is a verifiable cryptographic receipt of any transaction.
The public accounting industry, for one, is taking blockchain very seriously. Other industries taking a hard look at blocking include retail, financial, mineral and mining, among others.
There are some very exciting technologies emerging. And considering the acceleration of new tech that has emerged since the Beatles started playing clubs in Liverpool, it is fun to ponder the future implications and consider how we can use the new tech to create value and efficiency in our marketplace.
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Bryan is a Manager at YHB and serves on the Risk Advisory Services Team. Bryan focuses on assisting organizations in a variety of industries with internal audits and IT-related audit and consulting services.