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The Fourth Industrial Revolution has begun: Now’s the time to hitch

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2020 has created greater than a courageous new world. It’s a world of alternative quickly pressuring organizations of all sizes to quickly undertake know-how to not simply survive, however to thrive. And Andrew Dugan, chief know-how officer at Lumen Applied sciences, sees proof within the firm’s personal buyer base, the place “these organizations fared the perfect all through covid have been those that have been ready with their digital transformation.” And that’s been a typical story this 12 months. A 2018 McKinsey survey confirmed that effectively earlier than the pandemic 92% of firm leaders believed “their enterprise mannequin wouldn’t stay economically viable by means of digitization.” This astounding statistic exhibits the need for organizations to start out deploying new applied sciences, not only for the approaching 12 months, however for the approaching Fourth Industrial Revolution.

This podcast episode was produced by Insights, the customized content material arm of MIT Know-how Evaluate. It was not produced by MIT Know-how Evaluate’s editorial employees.

Lumen plans to play a key function on this preparation and execution: “We see the Fourth Industrial Revolution actually reworking each day life … And it is actually pushed by that availability and ubiquity of these sensible gadgets.” With the speedy evolution of smaller chips and gadgets, buying analyzing, and appearing on the info turns into a essential precedence for each firm. However organizations have to be ready for this rising onslaught of knowledge.

As Dugan says, “One of many key issues that we see with the Fourth Industrial Revolution is that enterprises are benefiting from the info that is out there on the market.” And to do this, corporations must do enterprise in a brand new method. Particularly, “One is change the way in which that they deal with hiring. You want a brand new ability set, you want knowledge scientists, your world goes to be extra pushed by software program. You’re going to must make the most of new applied sciences.” This mandate signifies that organizations will even want to arrange their know-how methods, and that’s the place Lumen helps “construct the organizational competencies and supply them the infrastructure, whether or not that’s community, edge compute, knowledge analytics instruments,” continues Dugan. The objective is to make use of software program to achieve insights, which is able to enhance enterprise.

With regards to next-generation apps and gadgets, edge compute—the flexibility to course of knowledge in actual time on the fringe of a community (assume a handheld gadget) with out sending it again to the cloud to be processed—needs to be the main focus. Dugan explains: “When a robotic senses one thing and sends that sensor knowledge again to the applying, which can be on-site, it could be in some edge compute location, the pace at which that knowledge will be collected, transported to the applying, analyzed, and a response generated, straight impacts the pace at which that gadget can function.” This knowledge have to be analyzed and acted on in actual time to be helpful to the group. Give it some thought, continued Dugan, “If you’re controlling one thing like an vitality grid, comparable factor. You need to have the ability to detect one thing and react to it in close to actual time.” Edge compute is the operate that permits organizations to enter the Fourth Industrial Revolution, and that is the brand new actuality. “We’re shifting from that hype stage into actuality and making it out there for our prospects,” Dugan notes. “And that’s thrilling once you see one thing turn out to be actual like this.”

Enterprise Lab is hosted by Laurel Ruma, director of Insights, the customized publishing division of MIT Know-how Evaluate. The present is a manufacturing of MIT Know-how Evaluate, with manufacturing assist from Collective Subsequent.

This podcast episode was produced in partnership with Lumen Applied sciences.

Present notes and hyperlinks

“Emerging Technologies And The Lumen Platform,” by Andrew Dugan, Automation.com, September 14, 2020

“The Fourth Industrial Revolution: what it means, how to respond,” by Klaus Schwab, The World Financial Discussion board, January 14, 2016

“Why digital strategies fail,” by Jacques Bughin, Tanguy Catlin, Martin Hirt, and Paul Willmott, McKinsey Quarterly, January 25, 2018

Full transcript

Laurel Ruma: From MIT Know-how Evaluate, I’m Laurel Ruma, and that is Enterprise Lab, the present that helps enterprise leaders make sense of recent applied sciences popping out of the lab and into {the marketplace}. Our matter immediately is constructing a related platform for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, which, granted, is an idea that’s nonetheless being refined in observe, however is undoubtedly right here, as knowledge, synthetic intelligence, community efficiency, and gadgets come collectively to raised serve people. Two phrases for you: next-generation apps.

My visitor is Andrew Dugan, who’s the chief know-how officer for Lumen. He has greater than 30 years of expertise within the telecommunications trade and, unsurprisingly for his time as an engineer, greater than 20 patents filed. Andrew, welcome to Enterprise Lab.

Andrew Dugan: Thanks Laurel. I’m very comfortable to be right here.

Laurel: So, launching a brand new firm throughout a pandemic is probably not essentially the most very best state of affairs, however a fantastic alternative to rise to the event. How has the covid-19 pandemic helped Lumen put together for, maybe sudden, buyer wants?

Andrew: Nicely, covid has been troublesome. It’s actually had a horrible affect on the world, however one of many optimistic elements of it’s that I’ve been actually pleasantly shocked at how our crew has responded and the way our prospects have responded. And covid gave us a extremely good alternative to point out how our infrastructure and our companies are scalable by having the ability to flip up emergency bandwidth for our prospects in a report time, surprisingly fast. Covid has additionally had a measurable improve in our prospects’ understanding of how vital digital capabilities are as a result of these organizations that fared the perfect all through covid have been those that have been ready with their digital transformation.

We’ve watched how our prospects’ wants have modified all through covid. Early on, we did surveys and located the early issues have been round provide chain. “Will I be capable of get the issues that I want to have the ability to proceed to run my enterprise? Will I be capable of hold my staff secure?” And we’ve seen a shift in the direction of extra of the digital issues. “Is my new method of working safe? Do I’ve the precise kind of safety measures in place? Do I’ve the precise kind of community for my distant staff or perhaps for my prospects to have the ability to devour my companies?” Plenty of companies are trying ahead and saying, “How do I create new types of income on this covid world?” And they also’re taking a look at know-how to assist them with that. And we’re discovering that the companies that now we have out there at Lumen can actually assist them with that want. So, it’s been a troublesome time, but additionally one which’s thrilling from a know-how perspective.

Laurel: It has that, hasn’t it? We interviewed the CIO at Boston Youngsters’s Hospital and he stated that within the early days of covid telehealth visits skyrocketed from 20 visits a day to 2,000. Clearly, there’s been a little bit of a lower as sufferers returned to in individual visits, however clearly this can be a big disruption to the way in which that issues have been executed. What alternatives throughout this time of nice world disruption do you assume might be truly accelerated?

Andrew: As I discussed, I believe companies have actually acknowledged the facility of digital capabilities in immediately’s world. And I believe covid has helped speed up a variety of companies in that digital transformation. The longer-term cultural modifications that I believe will end result right here, these often take generations to happen. And once you’re compelled into an atmosphere like covid has put us into, it might assist speed up a few of these modifications. Whether or not it’s extra make money working from home, the way in which that well being care is supplied by means of extra digital and on-line companies, the way in which that folks market and promote their companies. Who would have thought that the variety of residence gross sales or vehicles that have been bought by means of digital visits can be a traditional method of doing issues? Additionally, the way in which that folks work together. From my very own private expertise, I’ve executed extra social interplay by means of sport nights on-line. I even did a web-based wine tasting myself with my household and it was fairly enjoyable. So, I believe we’ll see continued evolution of services, new income streams for corporations as they embrace the probabilities of what know-how can carry to them.

Laurel: Do you may have any examples of what you’re listening to out of your prospects? Simply sort of these, “Oh, we did not know we might do X, however now we will and perhaps it’ll work out.” Simply these off-handed conversations that typically you may have.

Andrew: Nicely, I believe a variety of our prospects have been shocked at how shortly they have been in a position to rework to a distant work atmosphere. So, they have been in a position to transfer nearly all of their workforces residence with little or no disruption to their enterprise. We actually discovered that in our enterprise. So I believe that was one factor that was stunning for our prospects was the usefulness of on-line studying. I’m unsure that many individuals earlier than this might have anticipated that we might assist this stage of on-line studying or on-line healthcare. So I believe these types of issues, many individuals did discover stunning at how shortly and the way prepared the know-how was to assist them.

Laurel: Yeah, to have the ability to do this, whether or not it’s schooling or telehealth, a posh and quick edge community must be inbuilt most locations, proper? And expanded in others. So once you consider these complexities, how do corporations greatest deal with their plans for not simply the sting, but additionally rising knowledge infrastructure that is wanted to assist all of those companies?

Andrew: One of many key issues that we see with the Fourth Industrial Revolution is that enterprises are benefiting from the info that is out there on the market. There’s much more knowledge being generated by means of issues like IoT and sensible gadgets, and the way in which that enterprises, I believe, get to make the most of these is they’re going to must do a pair issues. One is change the way in which that they deal with hiring. You want a brand new ability set, you want knowledge scientists, your world goes to be extra pushed by software program. You’re going to must make the most of new applied sciences. Edge compute is a kind of that’s rising and turning into extra out there. And they are going to must learn to construct that into their purposes and their processes. And they are going to have to take a look at how the info could make them extra environment friendly, what kind of new income streams they’ll create. So, these are going to be challenges that they might not have confronted earlier than. They could not have needed to learn to use AI and machine studying instruments. However I believe that these will turn out to be extra essential because the Fourth Industrial Revolution develops for enterprises to achieve success.

Laurel: And that’s a kind of issues the place if the outdated saying is true, that if each firm is a know-how firm, then the know-how calls for immediately have superior fairly tremendously, fairly shortly, particularly within the face of covid, however generally as gadgets get smaller and quicker and edge compute turns into extra actual.

Andrew: Yeah, I believe that assertion is absolutely true that each firm is a know-how firm. I’ve received a member of the family that owns hair salon enterprise, and also you wouldn’t assume that that’s a know-how firm, however the way you work together together with your prospects, you’ll want to have a digital presence. It is advisable to have digital instruments which may be much less data-driven, however over time will turn out to be extra data-driven. So, I believe you’re completely proper, that the majority companies have gotten know-how companies to some extent.

Laurel: Particularly with AI and ML [machine learning]. You add this all along with edge compute, AI, higher gadgets, quicker gadgets [and you have something new]. So, the World Financial Discussion board says the Fourth Industrial Revolution isn’t simply accelerating however exponentially advancing technological breakthroughs. How particularly does Lumen, or do you, outline the Fourth Industrial Revolution?

Andrew: We see the Fourth Industrial Revolution actually reworking each day life, not simply folks’s private life, however organizations, as we talked about enterprises have gotten know-how corporations. And it’s actually pushed by that availability and ubiquity of these sensible gadgets. These sensible gadgets are producing knowledge, and enterprises and companies, their means to achieve success is absolutely being pushed by their means to amass, analyze, and act on the info coming from these sensible gadgets, to have the ability to enhance their services, enhance their outcomes as a enterprise and differentiate themselves from rivals. And for us at Lumen, it’s about how will we allow these companies to make use of that knowledge and assist them construct the organizational competencies and supply them the infrastructure, whether or not that’s community, edge compute, knowledge analytics instruments, to assist them implement insights utilizing software program to enhance their enterprise.

Laurel: So, interested by that purchase, analyze, act on the info, what are a few of these challenges that enterprises have with knowledge and processing it?

Andrew: One of many largest challenges as this transformation happens, and because it’s centered round that knowledge, it actually does come again to that ability set. If your corporation is being pushed by the info, you need to have the folks which can be in a position to perceive that knowledge and extract worth from it. And that’s knowledge science, and extra companies are going to require an information scientists, that ability set to have the ability to purchase, analyze, and determine the way to act on that knowledge. That’s going to be pushed by software program, so I believe there can be an rising want for these software program ability units. These are actually challenges that they’re going to face. They’re additionally going to face know-how challenges. How do you take care of the brand new architectures which can be going to be required, whether or not that’s edge compute or extra of the AI machine-learning applied sciences, to have the ability to take care of all of that knowledge and extract that worth. After which how does that have an effect on their processes? Plenty of instances their processes immediately aren’t constructed round knowledge. These processes will be too gradual. Information gives them an actual alternative to enhance that effectivity, enhance the pace, give them extra of a capability to make real-time choices as they automate the evaluation of that knowledge. So, having expertise for issues like robotic course of automation throughout the group to assist make the most of that, I believe are going to be vital, too. So, enhancing their folks’s ability set, how they make the most of know-how, and the way that impacts their course of are all going to be challenges that they must take care of.

Laurel: That’s a wonderful level. It’s not only one factor, is it? You actually do have to enhance all the system down the road. And the concentrate on some corporations could also be hiring. After which on another corporations could also be these apps and options and deployment as a result of they’ve the infrastructure already constructed. As we all know, the info has come out, and the businesses which have executed higher throughout this time are ones which have already began or are in course of with their digital transformation. So what particularly are a few of these traits you possibly can see forward-looking corporations or corporations who’ve began their digital transformation or within the strategy of it? What sort of applied sciences and pondering are they utilizing and deploying?

Andrew: Yeah, I believe that varies by trade. We discuss to a variety of bigger enterprises. People who find themselves constructing sensible factories for example, and so they’re coping with, how do they make higher use of robotics? How do they construct that infrastructure? How do they run that infrastructure? How do they make it safer? We see different enterprises on the market that need to gather details about how their companies are used, what their prospects wish to do with it and amassing that knowledge and attempting to determine the way to use AI and machine studying to raised predict what their prospects will want. So, it actually varies by trade, but it surely’s the software program software units which can be on the market to assist them remedy their enterprise issues by means of knowledge, but additionally the infrastructure that they’re going to want to have the ability to run issues like sensible factories with robots which can be related by means of wi-fi applied sciences. Feeding knowledge again by means of sensors to their purposes, which is probably not positioned on-site. How do you run and function these purposes? How do you join all of it collectively and make it work seamlessly? These are among the issues we’re seeing.

Laurel: And it’s a really advanced difficulty for certain. So, talking of robots, there’s at all times this dialogue about automation within the work that robots can do as an alternative of individuals, particularly these “tedious duties,” that permit people to do extra inventive work. What sort of alternatives do you see with robotics and automation?

Andrew: Oh, I see fairly a bit. That’s a method for companies to turn out to be extra environment friendly, produce a greater high quality product, have a safer atmosphere. Going again to that sensible manufacturing unit instance, we’re speaking with prospects who’re attempting to determine, how do they make the most of the developments in robotics and the way do they construct out the infrastructure? Certainly one of issues that we discovered is that prospects need assistance with deploying and managing these purposes. They need assistance with the connectivity of these robots, to the community. They want to make sure that the infrastructure that’s supporting them can assist the real-time processing. That’s so vital in these robotics purposes and searching for any person who can assist them design these options end-to-end from their enterprise areas the place the manufacturing unit is thru the sting to the centralized cloud is one thing that we’re in place to assist them with and has been a extra recurring dialog as these enterprises strive to determine the way to make the most of the automation that robotics gives.

Laurel: Yeah, talking of that aggressive benefit, the place are you seeing it? Good factories and people edge gadgets? Are there any sudden locations that you simply’re beginning to see that benefit come by means of?

Andrew: Sure. There are. There are some issues that I believe are much less apparent. Certainly one of our prospects is a retail meals chain, and also you wouldn’t assume that these applied sciences and the purposes, the processing of knowledge can be as vital as it’s. If you drive as much as a restaurant, you wish to undergo the drive-through and get one thing. And also you see the road wrapping across the constructing. There are particular eating places the place you take a look at that and also you say, “Oh, that line goes to take me too lengthy, however there are different eating places the place you take a look at it,” you say, “Yeah, that line does wrap across the constructing, however I do know from my expertise that I can get by means of that line in only a few minutes.” The truth that these eating places run an environment friendly line like that, it’s not accidentally, it’s not by essentially simply onerous work with the staff, though they do work onerous. It’s as a result of the purposes that they’re utilizing have created a extra environment friendly operation, whether or not that’s automation of the meals preparation inside, how they gather the orders from prospects, how they course of the orders, the method that it permits them to function as a enterprise. So, it’s affecting each elements of the enterprise. Even those who you wouldn’t assume are extremely dependent upon knowledge, extremely dependent upon purposes, like a retail meals institution. Their enterprise success is turning into more and more extra depending on the issues which can be enabled by the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Laurel: That’s actually attention-grabbing as a result of when you consider simply that one instance, there are such a lot of edges there, proper? And that doesn’t even go into provide chain and effectivity throughout all the retail chain, throughout a sure geographic space. After we take into consideration this type of real-time response charge, sure now we have this instance in a retail meals chain, however why is it so vital? Why is real-time processing that key element to the Fourth Industrial Revolution?

Andrew: I believe there’s a few explanation why. One is that the lifetime of knowledge in lots of instances has a really quick helpful life. And whether or not it’s that robotics instance or different examples like sensible vitality grids, you’ve received sensors on the market. These sensors are amassing data. The purposes which can be being written to react to these sensors are being written for real-time response. Whether or not it’s in going again to the robotics instance. When a robotic sensors one thing and sends that sensor knowledge again to the applying, which can be on-site, it could be in some edge compute location, the pace at which that knowledge will be collected, transported to the applying, analyzed, and a response generated, straight impacts the pace at which that gadget can function. And so the flexibility to handle that knowledge course of, that knowledge in actual time is essential for these forms of purposes. If you’re controlling one thing like an vitality grid, comparable factor. You need to have the ability to detect one thing and react to it in close to actual time. Different examples of security examples, the place you’ve received video processing managing the motion of one thing round a campus. The power to see one thing within the digital camera sense it, detect ,and react to it’s essential for security. So we’re seeing a variety of purposes that their dependency on quick processing of knowledge is turning into essential to them.

One more reason for actual time is the quantity of knowledge being generated out there may be simply big. And that knowledge is shifting shortly and also you don’t have essentially to retailer it over an extended time frame. And as that knowledge is coming in, you need to have the ability to course of it as shortly as you possibly can, extract no matter worth you possibly can out of it, after which eliminate that knowledge. And so that you don’t wish to get behind in that processing and the flexibility to deal with it in actual time can be vital.

Laurel: Yeah. Sort of specializing in that sense, detect, and react that in fact has so much to do with the safety as effectively. So the assault floor of what enterprises are taking a look at now could be rising, proper? So it’s each gadget, each community connection, each level. How is safety tackled and the way is that this a precedence for companies?

Andrew: Yeah, this can be a actually attention-grabbing drawback, I believe. Years in the past, an enterprise would construct a non-public community and they’d defend it largely with perimeter based mostly safety. You make it possible for knowledge or folks moving into that community are the folks and knowledge that you really want there. And you would defend so much utilizing a fringe mannequin like that. As purposes distribute, as they turn out to be out there on the general public web, that perimeter based mostly safety shouldn’t be the one factor that you could depend on. It’s a must to take into consideration safety at each layer. And the layers that I believe you need to fear about immediately is your community.

One, working system, software safety and your knowledge safety. From a community perspective, you wish to be sure that you’re working on a community that’s inherently safe. One of many issues that we do at Lumen to assist with that’s now we have a gaggle that we name Black Lotus Labs. It’s a analysis group inside the corporate and their job is to investigate knowledge out there by means of the web. By analyzing web site visitors patterns and detecting malicious actors on the market, after which construct that safety into our networking and enterprise safety merchandise. By doing that, we will make the community inherently safer on the working system stage and software stage. It is advisable to just remember to’re regularly patching. That you just’re understanding what exposures would possibly exist in that working system that’s working your purposes and the purposes themselves. And guaranteeing that you simply’re persevering with to shut any gaps which can be discovered. And as knowledge turns into extra out there, as we’re extracting increasingly more helpful details about our prospects and customers utilizing that knowledge analytics, knowledge privateness and safety have gotten much more vital. And so, use of knowledge encryption the place acceptable, guaranteeing that you’ve the precise knowledge safety and controls in place can be critically vital. So yeah, we’ve modified fairly a bit from a fringe mannequin to 1 the place you’ll want to give it some thought at each layer of the community and layer of your software.

Laurel: And that is sensible as every part turns into far more built-in and such as you stated, the info at each layer calls for that type of response. So after I’m interested by prospects, that’s a broad class. And Lumen clearly is a bit behind the scenes to their prospects’ prospects, however nonetheless essential. It is advisable to care about how everyone seems to be utilizing the community gadgets. And the way do you instill that curiosity into your group the place you look out and you might be chargeable for the experiences of many various folks and many various purposes. And it’s onerous to, I assume, typically sq. what a wise manufacturing unit does with a meals retail outlet, however on the similar time, you’re nonetheless reliably giving them that community connectivity securely, shortly to permit them to do what they should do.

Andrew: Nicely, I believe you hit on it there. Despite the fact that it’s our prospects’ prospects which have a variety of the expertise that we’re attempting to drive, we actually do have a direct impact on that. As you outlined, it’s the community expertise. We offer a variety of the underlying infrastructure and the efficiency of our community straight impacts these finish prospects’ expertise. So, that’s actually vital. How safe we make our community, how safe we make our infrastructure additionally straight impacts these finish prospects. So, we attempt to instill in our staff, in our services, that recognition that we’re right here to create a fantastic buyer expertise for our prospects and not directly to their prospects. And I believe we do job of that. I believe everyone acknowledges how essential the companies are that we carry out and supply and that our prospects depend on us.

Laurel: Completely. So one final query, as an engineer your self, we’ve touched on so many various features and we might simply discuss for days about sure elements of this dialog, particularly safety, however what are you most enthusiastic about or curious and what will get you simply actually comfortable to learn the information, to get going, to do the onerous work that basically helps corporations do these superb issues?

Andrew: Nicely, I get enthusiastic about know-how being an engineer. There’s a lot that we can assist our prospects do to enhance their companies however enhance society total. I take a look at that know-how as being an actual software that we will make out there to our prospects to make issues higher. And it’s actually enjoyable for me to be concerned within the improvement of the applied sciences that empower them to make the most of this Fourth Industrial Revolution. One of many ones that will get me up each day lately is the developments round edge and edge compute and supporting these purposes which can be turning into extra efficiency delicate. How will we construct and handle the infrastructure that lets these purposes function with a excessive diploma of efficiency in order that they’ll present that real-time suggestions to our prospects and actual time enchancment? So, it’s fairly thrilling that the sting compute a part of what we’re constructing is comparatively new. The dialog’s been round within the trade for a few years, but it surely’s now turning into actual and we’re shifting from that hype stage into actuality and making it out there for our prospects. And that’s thrilling once you see one thing turn out to be actual like this.

Laurel: It’s. Something to get away from the hype and into the fact. Andrew, thanks a lot for becoming a member of me immediately in what has been only a incredible dialog on the Enterprise Lab.

Andrew: Thanks very a lot. Loved it.

Laurel: That was Andrew Dugan, who’s the chief know-how officer for Lumen, who I spoke with from Cambridge, Massachusetts, the house of MIT and MIT Know-how Evaluate, overlooking the Charles River. That’s it for this episode of Enterprise Lab. I’m your host, Laurel Ruma. I’m the Director of Insights, the customized publishing division of MIT Know-how Evaluate. We have been based in 1899 on the Massachusetts Institute of Know-how. And you could find us in print, on the internet and at dozens of occasions annually world wide. For extra details about us and the present, please try our web site at technologyreview.com.

This present is on the market wherever you get your podcasts. For those who loved this episode, we hope you’ll take a second to charge and overview us. Enterprise Lab is a manufacturing of MIT Know-how Evaluate. This episode was produced by Collective Subsequent. Thanks for listening.

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