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We all know that technology is changing our world; and that it will continue to do so in the future.

Telematics and Big Data are changing our world now. What will change our world in the future?

Travelers beware

Technology has had a major influence on air travel with airports becoming smart hubs that are the first line of defense when it comes to preventing criminal activity.

Over the years, developments in this space have been significant. According to a recent article that I read on passengerterminaltoday.com, this will change significantly in the future.

The article points out that experts expect all areas of airport security to be impacted equally by technological advancements over the next decade. This includes screening, communications, surveillance, command and control, access control, cybersecurity and perimeter security.

The article adds that the following technologies, which should not be seen in isolation but rather in unison, will have the biggest impact on airport security by 2030.

Artificial Intelligence

Airports are procuring IT solutions with embedded AI, aiming to predict performance and potential operational disruptions.

The article points out that with advanced predictability comes improved allocation of resources. Furthermore, AI is a key element of intelligent video analytics and automation of passenger screening processes. AI-enabled risk-based screening will eventually replace risk-based screening by observational techniques (SPOT) employed by security agencies worldwide but championed by the TSA.

Biometrics

The article adds that, to date, biometrics has primarily been used for border control. However, it is a technology with numerous applications across the passenger journey.

First and foremost it is an enabler for tunnel screening, which will eventually replace the security touchpoint. As airports and airlines invest in digitization of all passenger touchpoints and implement self-service systems (check-in, bag drop, security, boarding), biometrics will become the preferred technology for identity management.

The article adds that, furthermore, biometric data, when linked with boarding pass data, is of immense value to airport operators. These data sets will allow a transformation of airport business models, as airports learn more about passengers and can develop personalized products and services.

Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity is no longer an afterthought for airports. With increased digitization, sensorization and cloud use, airports become targets for cyber criminals.

The article points out that almost all airport IT suppliers are investing in their cybersecurity capabilities, either organically or inorganically (via mergers and acquisitions).

Blockchain

The article points out that blockchain applications are already being trialed in airline and airport operations.

In the airport environment, the technology holds immense potential in enabling collaboration projects and real-time data sharing among airport stakeholders.

The article adds that perhaps the most important application of blockchain is in storing passenger biometric data and enabling seamless passenger journeys.

Sensorization and data analytics

Airports are investing big in data analytics and security is a major application for advanced software solutions.

The article points out that passenger screening is expanding beyond the security checkpoint and will take place across the terminal (and beyond, linking to the Safe City vision). The goal is to enable a decentralized security model, with sensors performing analysis of numerous data sets over the passenger journey.

Upload to the cloud

Moving on from airport security. Technology will ultimately make our lives easier.

Cloud computing is the most prominent among these technologies and according to an article on bangkokpost.com, its influence will grow in the future.

The article points out that the popularity of Cloud computing has blown sky-high over the past few years, with a growing number of companies putting a high priority on shifting from hard-drives to the online data storage and access system.

Owing to its advantages of scalability, flexibility and being cost efficient, Cloud computing is expected to grow nearly 400% by the year 2020, with spending projected to reach USD 277 billion by 2021.

IoT influence

The article adds that the Internet of Things, or IoTs, refers to technologies that support online connectivity for devices other than computers and smart phones.

Simply put, the technology is based on data from digital devices, which is analysed and used to make common life activities easier and more convenient. Though it is vastly disruptive to traditional businesses, there is a huge profit potential for IT and AI industry players who can effectively harness this game-changing technology, as IoT is a key element in the development of Smart Homes and Smart Cities.

The article points out that eye-opening statistics tell the story of IoT’s rapidly increasing influence: In 2006 there were some 2 Billion internet-connected devices worldwide, a figure which is expected to grow tenfold by 2020, while economic impact is estimated at USD 11 trillion per year by 2025.

Never leave your home

e-Commerce is the marketing, buying and selling of goods and services through electronic communication channels, most commonly the Internet.

The article adds that online shopping has made massive inroads across a landscape that remained largely unchanged throughout recent memory, with online-based year-on-year sales growth figures of 16.4% dwarfing retail’s 4.5%. Around 87% of the global online population regularly use e-Commerce for purchases spanning just about every category of consumer product.

A self-sustaining future

The topic of self-driving cars has been spoken about to death. The question is, when will this technology actually come to pass?

Perhaps we are approaching this from the wrong angle. Perhaps it’s not about self-driving cars, but about self-programming? I recently read an article on Nasdaq.com which discusses this at length.

The article points out that a self-driving car seems relatively straightforward in concept, even if the mechanics behind it are extraordinarily complex. But what if that idea can be applied elsewhere, specifically to data centers?

That’s the work that Balaji Prabhakar is doing. He is a computer science professor and faculty member at Stanford University, and he spoke with Nasdaq’s Tom Fay, who leads the Enterprise Architecture and Systems Engineering team, on the most recent episode of Tomorrow’s Capital.

The future is now

Prabhakar told Nasdaq.com, “My area of research has been computer networks, and that’s what I’ve primarily been working on, [seeing how] self-driving networks are related to computer networks, and to borrow something from the world of self-driving cars. The idea is that if we take a car just off the street, and add lidar sensors to it, and control the steering and gas pedal, then we get a self-driving car. It can move around. It knows how to navigate and avoid obstacles.

“Similarly, managing a data centre or what is basically the networks that are underlying Cloud computing infrastructures is actually a complex task. You have to schedule many different resources. The workload that is hitting these networks is not very clear, very well-defined, always changing quite like traffic … The goal is to get networks to be able to sense themselves, their operation, and learn from their operation, and then to control how they operate but automatically without human intervention. That is our research,” said Prabhakar.

Synchronisation will be the driver

Prabhakar shares what’s essential to making these networks work: synchronization.

“So, obviously, there’s some technical challenges to achieve this, and maybe talk a little about high precision clock synchronization because obviously that is a foundational technology that would be required and is required for these types of technologies ultimately to be successful,” said Fay.

The article pointed out that, as Prabhakar noted, data centers were developed with the goal of taking big jobs but getting them executed on many small machines, as opposed to a single big supercomputer, meaning that as soon as something is distributed, all those computers have to act as one, like it’s a single entity.

And now? These networks can coordinate down to the tens of nanoseconds, which is essential for ensuring fairness for financial systems, making sure that trades are executed in the order to which they’re submitted.

Influencer marketing

Humans, by nature, are influenced by a number of different people, technologies and trends. At times, celebrities wield massive influencing powers over the public. This is referred to as Influencer Marketing.

I recently read a blog post on marklives.com which explored the future of this and the role that technology will play. I mean…nobody can tween like Kanye West tweets!

Influencer marketing has come a long way since US silent movie star, Roscoe Conkling ‘Fatty’ Arbuckle, was paid by Murad cigarettes in 1905 to promote that brand’s product. Given this marketing practice was born out of celebrity endorsement in a broadcast age, it comes as no surprise that the first wave of social influencers were stars who successfully embraced digital, like Kim Kardashian and Selena Gomez, or, in South Africa, the likes of Bonang Matheba, who cut her teeth on TV — SABC 2 — at the tender age of 15.

Value interrogation

The blog post points out that, in South Africa, influencer marketing is evolving in a recessionary environment, which naturally drives value interrogation.

But, as with any maturing marketing discipline, as measurements, technologies and strategies mature, so too will the understanding of what value is. Expect movement from intrinsic value (the value the players set for themselves) to more fair market value.

Here come the rules

The blog post adds that across the pond, the US Federal Trade Commission has put clear guidelines in place for social influencer marketing, and the crackdowns have begun. Down under, the Australian Association of National Advertisers has followed suit.

Locally, influencer marketing falls under the Consumer Protection Act (CPA) 68 of 2008 and the Advertising Standards Authority’s (ASA) Code of Advertising Practice [since this column was written, the ASA has gone into liquidation — ed-at-large]. The latter stated that “advertisements should be clearly distinguishable as such, whatever their form and whatever the medium used”. The Interactive Advertising Bureau of SA has clear guides for Native Advertising, too, but as influencer marketing becomes more mainstream, these guides could well turn into regulations if influencers aren’t more transparent or compliant.

Measurement matures

The blog post points out reach has been a dominant metric in influencer marketing, because of advertising’s broadcast legacy, but digital technologies and algorithms have yielded more-sophisticated measures.

Engagement, resonance and relevance will smartly supplement reach. Also, as technology automates and becomes more sophisticated, data — and its analysis — will reveal how true influence in networks happens.

Networks of influencers

The blog post adds that the first iteration of influencer marketing has been all about individual celebrity influencers, but this will change as technology enables brands to identify and group networks of individuals who may be engaged as social brand influencers.

Technology will enable brands to harness groups of influencers, and to work with them, yet maintain one-to-one relationships with those influencers.

From endorsement to participation

The blog post points out that influencer marketing 1.0 was all about endorsement. But technology enables more, and this will drive greater collaboration between brands and influencers.

Expect to see influencers getting involved in the creation of products, and the broader marketing of brands.

This is all interesting stuff. But how do companies adapt to a future where technologies will be disrupters?

“Disrupters have to be seen as opportunities,” says GTconsult CEO and Co-Founder Bradley Geldenhuys, “companies cannot shy away from this. They need to be agile enough to adapt to a market place where change will be imminent. The world is at an inflection point and business owners are feeling the sand shifting beneath their feet. Do they embrace this change or fight against it? If you are bursting for a fight, you better go through a few rounds in the ring with Mike Tyson before you do so.”

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