There are now more computing devices in the world than there are people.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the world’s population is made up of 7.3 billion people, and growing steadily. In fact, their online population clock tracks each new addition like a live, ticking scoreboard. But the bureau isn’t the only organization counting new life.
The mobile analysis firm GSMA Intelligence has a similar, real-time dashboard that tracks new mobile connections.
With close to 7.8 billion SIM cards operating in the world right now, mobile devices are coming online faster than people are being born.
But what actually pushes this figure past the world population is the growing number of active machine-to-machine connections– M2M connections like cars, medical appliances and industrial infrastructure.
This is a staggering piece of information and it’s only a bite-sized example of the digital world we live in.
After all, data is now being measured in terabytes, petabytes, zettabytes, etc. These prefixes can leave one feeling dizzy.
We’re currently on the path to a complex, digital age. It may lead to many opportunities, or it may bring challenges. It’s up to us to make our choice. Can we harness that complexity to build a safer, more profitable, better world?
Mickey McManus, the keynote speaker for our annual user group conference PIB 2016, is trying to help answer that question. A pioneer in the field of pervasive computing and human-centered innovation, he’s passionate about taming the complexity of our digital world.
Mickey is the chairman and principal of MAYA Design and a co-author of the book, Trillions: Thriving in the Emerging Information Ecology.
Trillions is a field guide to the future, taking the previous example of billions of computing devices to the next level. Mickey asserts that one day soon this number will be closer to trillions.
“We are about to be faced with – not a trillion isolated devices – but with a trillion-node network: a network whose scale and complexity will dwarf that of today’s Internet,” said authors of Trillions, McManus, Lucas and Ballay. “And, unlike the Internet, this will be a network not of computation that we use, but of a computation that we live in.”
Mickey is a frequent speaker on innovation and pervasive computing, whether it’s at GE’s Minds + Machines last year, Techonomy, Aspen Ideas Festival or during his two TEDx talks.
According to Trillions, humans are inherently bad at dealing directly with all things complex. By sorting through and organizing complicated concepts though, we stand a chance at making sense of it.
“Invented systems like calculus and the periodic table help us describe abstract math and the nuanced properties of the natural world without too much trouble, and can be relied upon to work every time,” said Mickey.
To tame the complexity that exists when you’re dealing with a sea of operational data, it’s crucial to keep people at the intersection of technology and business.
Twenty years ago, there were industrial professionals that thought the idea of a PC on a plant floor was outlandish. Now we know that applying modern technology practices like HMI/SCADA, data analytics, and mobile solutions are key to operational excellence across industries.
Trillions reminds us that while we’re making our way through a new era, we must step back, regroup and discuss what it could mean for not only our business but also our lives. We must collaborate to get there.
This is what our annual user group meeting in Put-in-Bay, Ohio has always meant to us. For more than 20 years, we’ve hosted professionals from manufacturing, water/wastewater, energy and more to inspire conversation, spotlight challenges and propose innovative solutions.
Join us this year at PIB 2016 to collaborate with folks who have some of the same problems you experience daily and hear first-hand Mickey McManus tame the complexity of the digital age.
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