Tech Terminology Unpacked
A mini guide to surviving in the digital economy
When you’re grappling with the nitty-gritty of growing a business or managing a team, the seemingly endless emergence of new tech terms, acronyms and buzzwords can easily pass you by. The problem is that every business needs to get on board the “fourth industrial revolution”, because it’s the only way to realise the vast benefits of “big data”, “IoT” and “the Cloud”. Confused? You needn’t be.
Underpinning everything is the digital revolution, which exploded onto our collective consciousness with the emergence of the Internet and the dot-com bubble in the early 2000s. That was swiftly followed by the evolution of mobile phones into smartphones and the ubiquitous explosion of social media. Together, this new digital ecosystem has transformed the relationship between consumers and retailers and ushered in a new era of software-based digital business solutions.
The scale of change is so great that it has become seismic in its ability to rupture how things used to be done – and in the process, gave rise to a totally new international order and incredible opportunity for everybody. That is where the term ‘the fourth industrial revolution’ comes in. We dive into this and a few other terms below.
The Fourth Industrial Revolution
The Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) or Industry 4.0 is a term created in 2016 by Klaus Schwab, the founder of the World Economic Forum. It describes the global social and economic potential of a world where decades of technological invention and digital capabilities have come together to completely change how our world works.
Where the first industrial revolution gave us steam trains and mechanical production, the second gave us electricity and mass-scale manufacturing, and the third gave us huge advances in the ability to program machines for mechanical automation (we’ve been using robots to assemble cars for decades).
The fourth industrial revolution merges the physical with the digital, allowing us to predict behaviours and outcomes through analytics and data. It gave us Dolly the Sheep (cloning!), nanotechnology, quantum physics and artificial intelligence. It is truly a revolution in how human beings interact with the world and how we employ the laws of physics in completely new ways.
One of the terms that plays a key role in Industry 4.0 is big data. It refers to the massive amounts of data that keep growing in volume, velocity and variety beyond traditional data storage and processing capabilities. Once upon a time, data had to be put together by humans typing things into databases, which meant that it took time to make sense of vast quantities of data. Now, software has the ability to make sense of enormous quantities in next to no time, which is why Amazon knows what you had for breakfast and what you need to buy next week. Big data lets us turn data into information, which allows companies to get to know us better and serve us with more relevant goods and services.
The Internet of Things (IoT)
Big data is also fundamental to the concept of IoT – which means ‘the internet of things’. The IoT describes how various physical things are connected to each other through the Internet (wifi or mobile networks). Using sensors, physical objects like smart light bulbs or a smart fridge freezer can transmit the information those sensors pick up. This is what makes it possible to see who is standing at your front door when you’re on holiday or turn on the AC before you get home.
IoT is integral to the development of initiatives like smart cities, which use real-time analytics to recognise when things need to be done, changed or fixed. When your AC breaks down, it knows why and can directly contact maintenance. It could even tell them what the problem is, which parts to bring, and how to fix it. It also makes it possible for a smart city to control the use of energy and water sources efficiently or to monitor transportation systems in real-time so that a parking space is always available near your front door.
The ‘Cloud’ is another one of the terms that is part of the Industry 4.0 story. It is where big data resides and where the Internet is found. It is also where all of our databases, our files, the software we purchase and the information that companies store about us are found. In short, it is one massive global network of remote servers – a singular ecosystem of enormous computers that we never have to see or touch.
It’s important to know what the Cloud is because every time a company wants to create a new piece of software or platform, they need to design it so that it can live and operate virtually as a cloud-based solution. Examples include the web browser you use (Google perhaps) or Microsoft’s OneDrive. Proficiency with cloud computing will go a long way to helping your company remain flexible, productive and scale in this digital age.
Now You Understand These Terms. How Do They Apply to You?
The key to taking part and enjoying the benefits of this new industrial revolution is to develop an astute awareness of disruptive technology and, most importantly, to have the talent that can drive it. Yet this is where the problem lies – there is a growing digital skills shortage that makes it hard to find the kind of talent you need to create 4IR products and services. And be under no illusions – ignoring it is not an option.
There are good reasons why the world’s largest video rental service is a software company (Netflix), and the world’s largest bookseller is also a software company (Amazon). If you fail to adapt by developing a digital transformation strategy, you’ll be left in the cold – just the way Blockbuster Video was. These companies realised their success by deciding how to pivot their business towards survival in the digital age (a new corporate strategy), and by then hiring the right people to do it.
Where Do You Start?
A good starting point is to try to work out what skills, mindsets and digital tools your company needs for it to achieve its corporate goals (sell products online, for example) – and then ascertain whether you can train up existing staff or hire new digital talent.
Whether you’re hiring from outside or upskilling, the secret lies in harnessing the techno-fluent digital leaders of tomorrow. Your future business success will be driven by young digital talent who are adept at integrating, optimising, and refining all aspects of life in the digital and physical worlds. It’s up to you to hire and invest in this talent for greater productivity, innovation, and profitability. And if you need to look outside, The ROOM is a smart place to start.
The ROOM is a stable of highly skilled talent from across the globe – rigorously vetted and trained freelance software engineers, data analysts, cloud developers, financial analysts, and administrative talent.
Unlike regular job boards or recruitment agencies, every single professional at The ROOM has been trained and qualified through its wholly-owned training facilities, eliminating the risk of hiring inadequately trained people who aren’t properly vetted. In fact, The ROOM only selects the top 5% of talent from its own elite pool of graduates after vetting them for soft skills, technical abilities, and language proficiency. Incredibly, it is also 85% less expensive than in-house employees.
If you’re ready to take the next step towards digital transformation, visit The ROOM to access a diverse talent pool – including Software Engineers, Cloud Developers, Data Analysts, Web Developers, Business Intelligence Analysts, Financial Analysts, and Virtual Assistants.
The ROOM is home to a highly specialised community of agile digital talent, connecting individuals and companies across the globe with the skills and resources they need to future-proof their teams and thrive in the new world of work.