The people of Great Britain and Europe lived through the Industrial Revolution in the early 19th century. Similarly, the people of Canada and the wider world are currently living through the age of the Digital Revolution.
Not only is this revolution changing the way that we order our groceries and spend our free time, but it is also having a significant impact on Canadian business. In this article, we explore how specific digital developments and trends have impacted a number of business sectors and analyze what it means for their future.
The biggest single innovation of the 21st century has been the creation of smartphones. When Steve Jobs first launched the iPhone in 2007, he may have had an idea of how revolutionary his product would go on to be, but he couldn’t have predicted the impact it would have on society.
Humans now have, at the tip of their fingers, access to more knowledge and information than any other human has previously had. Unfortunately, this hasn’t led to a worldwide wave of learning and enlightenment.
That’s because, instead of using our phones for educational purposes, we tend to use them for entertainment. Major businesses and industrial sectors have recognized this and have made buying goods and services on mobile devices widespread and easy. Online Gambling is one of the industries that has benefited from digital transformation.
Whether it be making a deposit to Canadian real money casinos on your phone, buying a book that has been recommended to you on TikTok or subscribing to a mediation app, mobile technology has made it easier than ever before to part with your money.
Once a thing of science fiction, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is now starting to become a common feature in many business sectors. Digital technology is being used in a variety of industries, from the cutting edge of healthcare to the more mundane world of traffic management.
AI is also being used by digital media companies to produce online articles, opinion pieces and even, in some cases, art and cartoons. Whilst this is obviously cheaper and more efficient for companies, it also presents an ethical dilemma.
At the risk of turning this piece into a political manifesto for the digital Luddites, AI, when used this way, threatens to put an awful lot of people out of work and dilute wages in certain sectors.
Customer Tracking & Profiling
Before the internet age, advertising and marketing executives would sit around large tables in skyscrapers discussing the results from the latest target groups, plotting the next big commercial that would captivate millions.
What was most difficult about that was formulating an advert or commercial that would appeal to middle-aged Moms, old-aged pensioners, and teenage boys alike. That is no longer a problem, thanks to digital tracking.
Major companies now have access to a whole library of data on their customers, which allows them to produce target advertising campaigns that are suited specifically to your unique needs rather than one-size fits all commercials.
In his 2015 book The Rise Of The Robots, futurist Martin Ford argues that we stand on the brink of surrendering the majority of our jobs to robots. Whilst that argument might sound somewhat sensationalist, it is rooted in fact.
A 2018 British study found that between 10-30% of all jobs in the UK were highly automatable and at risk of being taken by AI. This is great news for businesses that can employ AI and technology rather than salaried staff members.
If you need an example of that playing out in reality, head down to your local grocery store and take note of how many self-service machines there are. Or head online to your favorite retailer’s website and have a conversation with AI rather than a human customer service assistant.
The Gig Economy
There’s nothing as modern and empowering as opening up your mobile device and being able to order a drink or meal of your choice that will be hand-delivered to your desk in 15 minutes.
Or heading to a European town or city and being able to choose from literally scores of beautiful and elegant homes and flats for rent. All of that is possible because of technology; it has opened up the world to a much wider audience.
It has also, however, created a gig economy, where people are scurrying about on bikes and scooters, scrambling to deliver macchiatos and lattes to business executives as fast as possible to earn a slither of commission.
It’s also led to house prices in towns where Airbnb is in operation skyrocketing, so whilst we might look at everything that the digital revolution has brought about as good and beneficial to society and our way of life, it’s also important to remember the unintended consequences of our digital dependence.