The Digitally Connected Future: The Times They Are A Changin’

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In the early 1960s, when Bob Dylan wrote the lyrics to “The times they are a changin’,” it is unlikely that he had any inkling of the extent to which the times really would change over the succeeding half century. As prophetic as it now might seem, the words that the wheel’s still in spin” apply equally to the modern age. Nowhere is that more evident than in the world of communication service providers.

If, as has been said, the future is already here, then what does the future really hold in terms of communication advances, technological innovation and digital transformation? Millennials may have grown up with computers and technology, but if you’re slightly intimidated by the prospect of preschoolers having “personal devices,” then you’re likely still reeling from the advances your cell phone company and internet provider regularly advertise.

However, all indications are that the rate of change will speed up rather than slowing down. Reimagining the future is the business of today. Especially for communication service providers.

Almost daily there are new options offered, additional choices, “smarter” phones, tablets  and personal devices, smaller and more powerful communications tools, and an array of products and services that were last year, sometimes even last month, unimaginable. The timeline for development of new products has been shortened as much as the technology itself has become more sophisticated.

The future is now.

So what does that future hold?

New products, new technology, new services and interconnectedness, certainly. Change is the new reality. But the future of digital communication, interconnectedness and “going mobile” is much broader than the devices themselves. The future will affect all areas of life, health, family, business and leisure in ways that might not even be imagined today. The question is how to reimagine that future and then reap the benefits.

The digital edge: Feeling digital versus “being digital”

New technology touches the customer directly, according to information presented in a Forbes article published in late November 2012. That makes a huge difference. Digital value is achieved by defining what is profitable for any company, rather than what is possible. For digital service providers, the business of reimagining the future must keep pace with a market that is not only growing daily, but developing at a staggering pace and moving in new directions at the same time.

The Smartness of Smartphones

With projections on target for 6.1 billion smartphone users globally by 2020, service providers can move in myriad different directions. More than 70% of the global population will have smartphones. A mid-2015 Ericsson Mobility Report notes that total mobile subscriptions will actually be 9.2 billion, with a total of about 26 million connected devices if broadband, Internet of Things, M2M services and various other things are factored into the mix.

There is no doubt that technology will be pervasive. In 2012, with a dollar equivalent of over $20 trillion and approximately 14% of the worldwide economy transacted digitally, technology is no longer a separate component of business. Today’s connected world demands that every company become a technology company. And that model demands that digital service providers in this reimagined world morph into lifestyle providers. Being mobile and staying connected are not only the future of business, but the standard of future life.

Reimagining the future for communications service providers just naturally moves into the realm of the Internet of Things (IoT) as well as the ease with with which such providers can become data brokers and business cloud service providers.

The words of that old song have relevance for anyone who might still be a bit perplexed about the ever-changing world of technology.

Your old road is rapidly agin’ Please get out of the new one if you can’t lend your hand For the times they are a-changin’

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