As an outlook for the remainder of the year, we had Global Perspectives as our first 2016 event earlier this month. Perspectives to look ahead, and find out what you need to do to stay ahead of the pack, what your organization needs to do to avoid disruption. Thanks to Moore’s law, computing power has evolved exponentially over the last few decades. However, we are currently in the second phase, where exponential really kicks off.

We all know there’s more computing capacity in today’s random smartphone than in the Apollo 11. But there are thirty-eight years between the landing on the moon and the commercialisation of the first iPhone in 2007. Since then, the computing power of the smartphone has multiplied many more times. Growth is exponential and we’re headed to a post-digital world. With self-driving cars for instance. Tests on Belgian public roads will start next month.

Drones getting normal

And Flanders Classics in cycling are about to start. Check how many shots are taken with drones flying above the bunch.
If you haven’t seen it yet, check out the TED talk “Meet the dazzling flying machines of the future”. Commercial use of drones is imminent. Think of traffic and environmental monitoring, aerial package delivery, surveillance, the possibilities are endless. In photography and media, the business is already booming. And they might just digitize the world’s non-digital and unconnected regions.


The Pentagon has started tests with swarms of drones that can work together. The idea is that the micro-drones are dropped out of fighter jets and fly in packs. They could be used to confuse enemy forces and carry out surveillance missions using equipment that costs much less than full-sized unmanned aircraft.

Commercial use of drones is imminent. Think of traffic and environmental monitoring, aerial package delivery, surveillance, the possibilities are endless.

Belgium leading in 3D printing

In the same sector, the US Defense agency DARPA – remember Arpanet – is one of the driving forces behind the development of robotics. Boston Dynamics’ Atlas humanoid robot can walk bipedally leaving the upper limbs free to lift, carry, and manipulate the environment. Here as well, commercial models are breaking through with assistive robots for the elderly, collaborative robots in industrial environments.

We might not be a key player in robotics, we are leading in 3D printing with companies like Materialize and Melotte. 3D printing paved the way for precision manufacturing in automotive and aerospace industries. It is transforming the way we make things. Expected are printing of textiles and shoes, personalized food, medical pills, and so on.

If you or your customers are in the business of making anything, 3D printing is on the road to disrupting your industry and your business. Supply chain internet and 3D printing may just as well lead to inverted globalization, virtualizing products and producing them wherever you are. It might be the end of global production sites.

Smart becomes self-learning

Drones, robots and 3D printing are often mentioned when people think about digital. We can easily add artificial intelligence, Internet of Things, augmented reality, cognitive computing. We’re exploring the ability of computers to do more unaided learning.

Cisco’s smart physical surveillance cameras can detect uncommon behaviour like glass breaking, aggression or gunshots. Subsequently, they can start detailed recording, alerting police forces or signalling other cameras to focus on the same event from different angles. No need for a video team to watch screens 24/7 and still run the chance to miss that split-second of important footage.

We have a very exciting - or better, unpredictable - future ahead
Peter DiamandisSingularity Hub
Now, as Singularity Hub’s Peter Diamandis states, should we look at technology evolutions individually or should we look at convergence? “An expert might be reasonably good at predicting the growth of a single exponential technology, but you should try to predict the future when AI, robotics, VR, drones, and computation are all doubling, morphing and recombining… we have a very exciting – or better, unpredictable – future ahead”, he says.

Deep neural networks

We’re looking forward to his conclusion, even if we believe he isn’t looking beyond the horizon sufficiently. What about deep neural networks that combine sensor data, analytics and massive computing power allowing computers to detect what a cat is for instance?

IBM Watson is already hooked to the internet, ready for knowledge-as-a-service and business models. Artificial intelligence suddenly becomes a reality, after decades of false promises or sci-fi. Deep neural networks will anticipate events like smart self-driving cars breaking down. It will be able to predict what the car will do and respond accordingly. Smart devices will become actors in our society.

Blockchain to disrupt all paper intensive processes

Smart devices as actors require a new building block. This is called ‘blockchain’. The Blockchain is a decentralized network of computers that form an encrypted, virtual chain and store some kind of a property database, a shared ledger: who owns what and who owes what to whom?

It would imply that transactions now requiring a intermediate person could be fully automated, securely and at no cost. Banks are already working on a ‘blockchain for trade finance’, but any paper intensive process may be subject to large automation : digital identity control, notaries, art authentication labels,..

WEF is wrong

Until now digital has generated lots of jobs and we’re still struggling to find those affordable technical engineers. According to the World Economic Forum, we’re headed to a fourth industrial revolution. Unlike the previous three, it will not have a positive impact on worldwide employment.

We disagree with the WEF when they say a mere 5 million jobs will be lost. That is marginal when compared to the global workforce. The WEF looked at current technology, but didn’t make an exponential calculation.

As we already explained last year, ING calculated that 49% of jobs may just as well be automated in the next 20 years. 35% of current professions are at risk. Still, according to the WEF, most existing education systems at all levels provide highly siloed training and continue a number of 20th century practices that are hindering progress on today’s talent and labour market issues.

ING calculated that 49% of jobs may just as well be automated in the next 20 years.

Broaden your view

Of course, technology doesn’t drive future change as profoundly as human emotion. Still, it is becoming clearer and clearer what can, could and should happen in the post digital world. And the magic mostly happens far from your comfort zone.
You know what to do.