Every large-scale technological breakthrough is often accompanied by a data delivery breakthrough. This has been true in the past and we are living through another shift. Lets take a quick stroll through history to understand this evolution, to where we are today, and what the future holds.
The first industrial revolution that occurred from 1760-1840 drove the emergence of steam power and the printing press, and for the first time in human history, there was an increase in both population and per capita income. Steam powered machinery replaced windmills and hydraulic power; unleashing with them an expanded reach of manufactured goods. This period experienced lower costs (up to 5x) and decreased manufacturing time, resulting in greater complexities in replenishing supplies, as well as the need for flexibility in how data was delivered and analyzed.
Although we saw the invention of line, area, and bar charts, this era was bound by how companies communicated. In order to transmit information internally and to suppliers there was great reliance on clerk’s handwritten information on expensive paper. Knowledge workers of the first industrial revolution were extremely rare. This constraint ultimately capped the production capabilities and yielded way to the second Industrial Revolution.
The second Industrial Revolution that began in the 1850s and ended at the beginning of WWI was fueled by cheaper steel, railroads, electricity, oil, chemicals, and the telegraph. Once again, goods were manufactured faster and the demands on existing communication systems were pushed to their limits. For instance, in the 1840s, a shipment from Philadelphia to Chicago that took over three weeks, took just 2 days once the railroads were in place by 1880—a 7.5x improvement. Again, the faster goods were produced, the greater the need to communicate large amounts of data to more complex supply chains. Cheap, mass-produced paper and writing instruments became standard in this era (did you think we always had pencils?), which meant communication was not limited to clerks. The invention of telegraph transmissions greatly accelerated processes and yielded to globalization. The rise of industrial machines and tools meant more employees were knowledge workers, ultimately concentrated on the flow of information (or business intelligence) instead of manual labor. Even with paper and telegraph the second Industrial Revolution clogged itself with how much data could flow between complex networks.
The third Industrial Revolution was powered by the Internet of Things (IoT). Similar to the past two Industrial Revolutions, this one drove productivity improvements, cost reductions, and connected us like never before. The IoT created the first ever smart-infrastructure that connected every machine, residence, and vehicle and revolutionized communications, energy, and logistics via automated ways. Economist Jeremy Rifkin wrote “Fifty years ago, a single textile worker operated five machines, each able to run a thread through the loom at 100 times per minute. Today, machines run at six times that speed and one operator supervises 100 looms—a 120-fold increase in output per worker.”
Unlike the previous Industrial Revolutions, which were topped by how much information we could transmit and receive, we are limited by how much information we can process and act upon. This digitalization of everything implies that we are increasingly reliant on analytics to enhance productivity and recognize the fundamental fact that at the heart of all smart-infrastructure, is data. What used to take months or weeks now occurs in real time. This level of decision-making requires current information in the hands of every user when they need it. The digital telegraph of the 21st century is analytics built directly into IoT processes.
We are at the cusp of a brand-new fourth Industrial Revolution; which is building upon the third. It is characterized by a fusion of technologies that blurs the lines between physical, digital, and biological worlds. Learn more about it from World Economic Forum here.
TIBCO Analytics strives to reach more people to get to their answers faster. We are reimagining analytics for the “Personal Era” where analytics need to be pervasive, self-serving, driven by processes rather than clicks, and most importantly, actionable for maximum impact. Learn more about TIBCO Analytics here.