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The Third Platform Technologies

[Sydney Harbor Bridge and Opera House, Sydney, Australia - Photologic]



-  The Third Platform Technologies

The core of the next wave of innovation and productivity will be the "third platform" technologies - these technologies mark the convergence of mobile, cloud, Internet of Things (IoT), blockchain, artificial intelligence (AI), big data, and robotics. The confluence of these technologies is completely altering how we live and transact, and will ultimately drive decisions on how we make money. 

If you look at the evolutions and opportunities behind the third platform (and the risks and challenges) you pretty much have an idea about the evolutions in your industry and, remembering the old saying “it’s not about the technology but about what you can do with it”, can also find how the leverage of this converged reality in which all the mentioned technologies are causing somewhat of an explosion in many areas, drives transformational powers and necessities for several years to come.


- Digital Everywhere

All industries, without exception, are experiencing the emergence of new business models. These models use a variety of technologies that have matured in recent decades and have been catalyzed by COVID-19, altering the makeup of their value chains and breaking down the silos between sectors. On many occasions, disruption comes from unexpected competitors, such as startups and even companies from totally different industries. 

Furthermore, businesses are quickly reinventing themselves by transforming data into an asset they can leverage, and digital technologies have become an enabler for both old and new businesses. The most evident measure of digital transformation has been accelerated adoption of collaboration software, CRM and other software applications that users require on demand on their devices. From sales to ops teams, users need all critical work information on any device at any time. Private companies are looking for solutions that are more nimble than traditional ERP (enterprise resource planning) applications. They can find such utility in a litany of apps that provide reporting in real time. Providers are seeking out client-facing technologies that directly impact customers. Such disruption is ubiquitous. 


- Robotics and Automation

According to McKinsey, robotics and automation adoption dramatically increased during the shutdown, despite widespread delays as a result of COVID-19 protocols and shipments from Europe, Japan and Korea being disrupted. 

In particular, providers sought out technologies that replaced labor. Not only are robots faster, cheaper and more accurate - they also don’t get sick. The first industrial robots were intended to replace functions that were too costly or dangerous to be completed by humans. A new wave of “cobots” are intended to collaborate with humans.


- Click and Mortar

Among the companies investing the most are retailers in a race to deploy omnichannel strategies. Retailers are scrambling to improve their technology infrastructure. They have also had to adapt to new consumer needs such as curbside pickup. Self-serve kiosks that enable omnichannel transactions will become the norm. Retail is also under attack from cyber-criminals who have identified new “vectors.”


- Extended Reality (XR) – Virtual and Augmented reality (VR/MR)

Reality tools are making their way into sectors such as education and healthcare. The pandemic has escalated remote surgeries and other healthcare applications that may even include self-serve options. Today, technology exists for a patient to have an eye exam through high resolution cameras and then be prompted to a series of eyeglass options based on their prescription. The commercial and industrial applications of XR, VR and MR are endless. Many companies are already using augmented reality in training and customer service.


- AI-enabled Engineering and Manufacturing

Artificial intelligence will not only design products, but make decisions about how they are to be procured and produced. For example, today’s development of new drugs relies principally on trial and error, and AI will radically improve the cycle time to bring products to market. Data and analytics will feed decision making in real time. Intelligent algorithms will improve quality and input. It is predicted that AI in manufacturing will reduce waste by 50 percent or more in some manufacturing environments.


[Vienna, Austria - Civil Engineering Discoveries]

- Cloud

Cloud computing continues to drive valuation of technology firms. The pandemic spiked demand for public cloud apps and development services. The Department of Defense awarding a contract to Microsoft was the latest salvo as Microsoft and Amazon Web Services battle for web supremacy. Forrester predicts that the cloud infrastructure market will swell by 35 percent in 2021, with Alibaba becoming the third largest provider. There is continued movement toward serverless services.


- Privacy-based Computations

New solutions are emerging that combine three technologies. The first provides a platform for data such as bank account records to be exchanged. Then data is decentralized for processing, only for a third technology to then encrypt it for transmission.


- Cyber Security

The pandemic was a catalyst for cyber-attacks (up 238 percent in fintech). Phishing attacks result in about 80 percent of corporate security breaches, with 94 percent of malware being installed via email. 

Hackers are also adapting. As the industry has invested in mitigation techniques, state-sponsored actors are coordinating ransomware attacks, with more than 50 percent involving “hands-on” hackers. Private companies are investing in intranet, firewall, antivirus and malware solutions to stem the tide.


- Big Data

Another trend amplified by the pandemic was a critical need for dashboards and real-time analytics. Private companies are scrambling to ensure integration and access to the right reporting tools. The rapid adoption of Microsoft Teams has also moved Power BI to the forefront as an easy-to-use, plug-and-play analytics platform. Big data (the ability to pull data from multiple sources) is providing companies the opportunity to improve key performance indicators (KPIs) that are critical in an age of distributed work.


- 5G Wireless

As the United States and China are still entangled in rhetoric, it is hard to imagine that the Biden administration will lift restrictions on Huawei, the leading 5G technology supplier. Nokia and Ericsson are alternative global suppliers, but the duopoly is seen as detrimental to competition and innovation. With the introduction of new-generation mobile phones by US mobile phone operators and Apple and other manufacturers, the improvement in processing speed and latency is reported to be very significant. 5G will enable other technologies from the Internet of Things to self-driving cars. The US Federal Communications Commission approved a satellite broadband for 5G wireless in rural areas. SpaceX's low-earth satellites will serve this market.


- Technology and COVID-19

The pandemic has permanently changed our business trajectory and our perception of workplace safety. The mashup of these technologies will provide a solution to alleviate the spread of COVID-19. Today's technology will allow users to approach their office buildings and check in online. Their employer’s customized application will indicate whether they can enter the building safely. The sensor will measure their temperature and record the result. The user's path will be mapped according to the social distance protocol. Artificial intelligence and machine learning will achieve continuous improvement and provide a safer office environment. 

The architects of these technologies face new regulations in the United States and Europe. Due to concerns about privacy, security, and corporate responsibility, Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google found themselves under the microscope. More regulations seem certain.


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