The technology is there ̶ it is up to us as to how we use it

Greater automation and investment, driven by accelerated production cycles, advanced technology and changing labour demographics will continue to revolutionise industry. These are the game-changing trends expected to impact manufacturing in 2015. If you are only waking up to this fact now then you might as well say that you know nothing about, or are not attracted to the fashionable and socially conscious ideas of saving the rhino, buying fair trade coffee and recycling, all of which make for a better, stronger community in future.

Advances in technology have been rapid and startling over the last three decades. Most of us struggle to keep up with them especially when the talk is about the ‘SMAC Stack’ adoption – using social, mobile, analytics and the cloud to drive a manufacturing comeback.

The ‘Internet of Things’ has changed the way we live and work, with the traditional business-to-business model becoming outdated because today’s connected consumers are better informed and expect products on-demand. Consumers compare, select or buy multiple products with a tap of their smartphone or tablet, and social media has become their preferred communication platform. This consumer purchasing style is not only having an impact on brand-oriented value chains, but is transforming traditional B2B models.

Equally these days our privacy is dead and invasive technology is here to stay. Facebook users will lay testament to this. Explore and research a holiday destination on the TripAdvisor site and you will soon be invaded by advertisements about that subject, even though you have checked the security box.

While driving on the N3 recently I knew my speed was being monitored by ‘average speed’ technology, every call I made or received was recorded, a tracker system was monitoring wherever my vehicle was moving and at what speed, every transaction I made on my credit card was recorded, and then I also volunteered information by booting up my tablet and connecting to the internet, which took heed of my location. Piece all of that electronic information together, which is quite feasible and not beyond the realm, and big brother has a very clear picture of the when, where, what and how of me, and without much difficulty he could work out the who and why of me.

They now talk about imagining a world where mosquito-sized robots fly around stealing samples of your DNA. Or where a department store knows from your buying habits that you’re pregnant even before your family does.

Invasions of privacy are “going to become more pervasive,” and it is quite scary.

There is no doubt that the technology is there and can be used in many pervasive, or should I say perverse ways, as we have come to learn. However, it is up to us to know how to use the technology to determine our paths. Most certainly in business and manufacturing it has advanced how we do things, accelerated production cycles and shortened delivery times. Which, I suppose is not a bad thing. We may still be able to invade Mars in the future!