At this point in the game, maintaining that mobile devices – which in the old world were known as “cell phones”- are the main piece of the entire information and communications industry, is more or less obvious.
If the internet could be defined as the son that computers and fiber optic had, Smartphones – those 2.7 billion devices that are the main engine of the realm of social networks and the economy of Apps – would be the result of the union between the explosive expansion of mobile broadband and a series of new technologies that literally put in our hands a torrent of unimaginable information just a generation ago.
In the first years of this century, the big technology companies that today monopolize the money of the big international financial markets were inexistent or irrelevant in economic terms. Apple, Facebook, Alphabet (Google), Amazon, have emerged as pillars of the digital economy – along with Microsoft and, to some extent, Netflix -, all from the use of the digital dimension to build the global markets that they try to conquer. With the important exception of China, they are doing it.
In 2019 we have more cell phones than people on the planet and those who use the internet -a little more than half humanity -, spend more time in front of the small screen than in front of the TV. And that the big change is just beginning.
As the classics said, while the old paradigms do not collapse and the new ones have not just consolidated, a good part of the people and also the social and economic structures themselves in a significant number of countries and industries, are now in the middle of the turbulent river of transformations that will define the near future.
From the labor relations defined by the nine-to-five, vertical organizational structures and the search for power (control) as a supreme objective, to horizontal models, which take advantage of new technologies, stimulate creativity and therefore productivity , there is still a huge gap between different countries, social groups and, of course, different generations.
On the eve of the full robotization of the industrial economy in the self-styled “first world”, in the “developing” countries, we still measure job performance – with check clocks – in sitting hours.
Something similar happens within several industries: while the lines for customer service in banks, schools and hospitals continue to grow, “digital branches”, “online courses” and “distance surgeries” begin to be practical common.
The same as in issues such as mobility: while a pair of men in uniforms are capable of causing real chaos on any cruise by taking over the manual control of the traffic light, governments have software that is capable of using artificial intelligence to guide the vehicular flows of a so they save thousands of hours of traffic jams. Or security with the installation of a huge amount of video cameras that can be used for face recognition and identification of criminals, along with the old police mafias that continue to serve organized crime. In this moment, past and future live together, but we can see a new path that will bring lots of lights as well and some shadows. In other words, tech and inovation are not good or bad per se, how we use them is our big challenge.