To say that technology has changed the world in just a few short years is something of an understatement. Take the way it's affected our personal lives, for example. In 1990, the internet was a pipe dream -- something that primarily existed on college campuses and in the military.
Ten years later, in 2000, the internet was everywhere and people accessed it in their homes via their desktop computers.
Today, over 40 percent of the world's population is online -- which breaks down to about 3.5 billion people. More than that, people's primary means of accessing the web is via the small-yet-powerful smartphone so many carry around with them in their pockets all day long.
But if you think that only our personal lives are changing because of technology, think again. It's also rapidly changing the way things get done in the world of business, too. This is true across a wide range of different industries in the following three fascinating ways.
1. Technology has the news industry in flux.
One of the biggest industries that have seen a shift because of technology is that of news. With social media having become the new norm, news spreads faster than ever. However, not all of it is positive -- or real. In an era where everyone rushes to be first, rushing to be correct doesn't seem quite so important -- at least to readers. News organizations themselves are struggling for how to properly adapt to this trend, moving forward.
Facebook, for example, recently announced a plan to attack the fake news that spreads like wildfire in its users' feeds. Other social networking sites are doing the same. Whether these efforts will be enough to stop the spread of rampant misinformation, however, remains to be seen.
2. Information technology as a service is booming.
Thanks largely to the app revolution that took the smartphone world by storm, software developers (and to a larger extent, IT companies) are getting involved in a number of interesting ways. Almost all the resources that businesses leverage on a daily basis -- from their antivirus software to their productivity suites to even the storage they use -- are shifting to cloud-based subscription models.
The point is to drive down costs and drive up value. With the right managed services provider at their sides, small businesses can now compete with their larger brethren as never before.
"For one low monthly fee, it is now possible for a small business to remotely lease all of the cutting-edge equipment they need to remain competitive in the marketplace," Michael Collins of Bawell Water Ionizers told me. "Everything from software to servers to storage to backup and disaster recovery can now be handled by a third-party provider," he said. "This frees them up to focus on what really matters, while still saving them money at the same time."
3. Automation is about to change everything.
Another major way that technology is rapidly changing the way things get done across industries can be summed up in one word: automation. Tech has reached the point where a massive amount of work currently done by humans will soon be done by computers.
“In manufacturing, you’ll start to see robotics become more sophisticated and able to seamlessly participate in key functions," Chris Wiegand, CEO of Jibestream told me. "In the software world," Wiegand said, "artificial intelligence and machine learning will drive automation through the ability to make sense of large amounts of data, and predict with accuracy the appropriate outcome.
"Ultimately, this level of intelligence and automation will enable our everyday applications to do a lot of heavy lifting for us across a wide range of industries.”
According to a study conducted at Oxford University in the U.K., roughly 47 percent of the jobs in the United States could potentially be replaced by automation over the next 20 years. None of this is to say that 47 percent of the population will soon be out of a job. As these jobs disappear, new ones will be created in their place.
At the end of the day, none of this is new. Technology has always changed the world, often for the better. Innovation by entrepreneurs and their undying urge to do better have done everything from giving us electricity in our homes to sending men to the moon. Why should the 2000s be any different?