Already we are seeing the effects of a dramatic increase in the application of global mobile connectivity as the incorporation of sensors, robots and powerful data analytics in both manufacturing and service industries have the power to drive a whole new cycle of economic activity.
In South Africa, for instance, in some Metros we already make use of sophisticated systems that drive response times to emergency, for any given set of criteria whether it is for road accidents, fire, water outages, electricity outages or even just nuisance value to a whole set of inter-connected service delivery organisations, purely by the click of an icon.
The efficiency this creates is timeous response with the ability to elevate the response should it in its first attempt fail, without any human intervention, as the system automatically reads a “no reaction” from the first initiation and forwards the event to an escalated status.
It creates a record and allows for unencumbered reporting which is analysed to provide real time accurate statistics related to the efficiency of service providers including real time response rates, helping us to better understand, manage, control, cost save resources and expedite the various functionality and effective application of service delivery.
The downside of this is that the administrative level of participation is dramatically reduced as the system replaces this function.
What this means is that people employed by the various service delivery entities are mostly only required to function in the main purpose of that service delivery as administrators are cut dramatically and by implication administration morphs to data assembly, analysis and monitoring function.
Another application of this type of system is easily illustrated in Agriculture.
Through the use of telemetric systems it is now possible to control and monitor in real time the application of water requirements to crops.
These systems measure at any given time the levels of water held in dams, controls the valves to irrigation, reports any faults that occur and accurately irrigate at the correct rate.
I believe that the efficiency of this type of system to the application of a precious resource such as water clearly illustrates the advantages of having such as system.
Once again, the downside is a lesser labour force which once again morphs into data, installation, assembly, analysis and monitoring.
Distribution warehouses are run on similar systems and are more efficient requiring less human intervention in applying the function of distribution warehouses.
The value chain in human input is reduced in the actual collection of goods for distribution but requirements for data monitoring are increased.
So while systems become smarter, South Africans need to understand that to keep pace with what is happening in the world globally and at home, we need to become smarter and education is key to achieving this for our children.
The use of these enhanced abilities allow us to track materials, redesign production and consumption systems that then create economies based on resource efficiencies rather than resource consumption, transitioning humanity away from the reliance on fossil fuels.
(To be continued in Part Three.)
Nicholas Davis, Head of Society and Innovation, Member of the Executive Committee, World Economic Forum