For years now, the internet has been changing our lives. The way we live, work, produce and consume has evolved extensively due to digital technologies. However, advancements have disrupted many government and business models.
As we enter what has been coined as the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the challenge is balancing further expansion into the digital realm, against the longevity and stability of the web.
The Internet is Data
The internet is a vast web of data and this data is forever growing. The volume of data on the web is expanding at a rate of 40% per year and it is set to grow 50 times by 2020. Singapore based Aureus Analytics estimated that 90% of all the data globally was produced in the last two years.
Furthermore, with many now using mobile phones as mini computers, personal data files are forever increasing. 51% of all internet users worldwide hail from Asia. China has a population of 1.36 billion, and a staggering 1.3 billion of this total have a mobile phone. India is very dense also, with a population of 1.25 billion and 91% of those citizens having a mobile service.
Although this is impressive, there is one industry harnessing the web and growing staggeringly – industrial. American research and advisory firm Gartner, estimate that there are 4.9 billion connected devices in the world, from features of cars and homes, to appliances and industrial equipment. The figure of 4.9 billion is set to increase by an incredible 410%, hitting 25 billion by 2020, as more internet based initiatives are introduced to different parts of daily life.
Although there were internet enabled phones previous to iPhone, the launch of the 1st Generation iPhone in 2007 was when the trend really propelled. This was only 9 years ago and look how far development has progressed. The internet is developing so quickly that is bound to be fraught with challenges, but as we grapple with the best ways to govern, process and manage expansion, what is in store for the future?
Future Challenges and Opportunities
In 2015, the World Economic Forum launched the Future of the Internet Initiative (FII) to help strengthen the backbone of the internet and be prepared for any challenges and opportunities faced by future expansion. Here are the four themes the project is covering:
The internet has proved incredibly valuable in reshaping public and private sector structures. This remoulding created new markets for business, but companies now need to make sure their customers data is completely secure.
The web has brought many benefits to organisations, such as using data to tailor customers offerings. But, there are new opportunities for businesses to harness. Digital transformation is all well and good, but it must generate revenue. There are challenges when it comes to finding new sources of income from internet based expansion. Many companies are creating new partnerships and platforms for bringing buyers and sellers together.
60% of the world population still do not have internet access. United Nations believe that web access is a key tool in helping to reduce poverty, advance health and education, and improve the environment. The organisation has included universal and affordable internet access in its Global Goals. These goals recognise that the internet can help connect neglected and underserved communities worldwide.
With technology progressing at breakneck speed, new regulations often come far behind the action. The rules that are in place to protect those using all forms of data on the internet need to be relevant and match the ace of technological change.
With the internet becoming universal, tensions grow between national interests and global inter-operability. The regulations put in place to govern the digital world are tested on a daily basis as governments and individuals raise concerns about data security and privacy. The potential for the future of web technology is raising questions about ethics as well as rules, as well as social benefits and costs.
We all live in a world which is networked together, from internet banking to government infrastructure, and thus, network protection is no longer an optional extra. Cyber-attack is now an international concern, as high-profile breaches have given many concerns that hacks and other security attacks could endanger the global economy.
As the amount of industrial data inevitably grows, the need for comprehensive digital security services focused on protecting the integrity of devices connected to the web is integral.