What’s the raw material for a ‘smart’ world?

Once upon a time ‘smart’ meant wearing a snappy suit and tie (remember those?), but the word has been commandeered by the tech industry and transferred not to what clothes a person, but what’s inside them, or more importantly what’s inside their heads, and what it can create. Blogger Stuart Pearcey looks at one man’s vision of what’s changing the world of tech…

‘Smart’ is everywhere. From the Smart meter telling you how much energy you’re using, and how much it’s costing, to the fridge that knows before you do how much cheese is left.

There would hardly be an area of life that isn’t influenced by ‘smart’, and if there is, it will surely be only a matter of time before someone has developed the idea and brought it to market.

Or maybe not… The raw material of any smart application (even that suit, if we go back to the old-school definition) started with someone having an idea. The idea grew, and became a prototype, a business plan, and ultimately a product, all driven by ingenuity. And that’s going to be in short supply, if Dave Maclean’s predictions are correct.

He’s the CEO and founder of Packt Publishing, and it’s his belief that access to knowledge is one of the biggest threats to the growth of technology companies.

“Access to knowledge is one of the foundations of growth,” he says. “You can’t build what you don’t understand.  Our industry has grown far quicker than other sectors, but we must be careful we support the continued professional development of our teams, otherwise, companies risk stemming the growth that has seen us become such an attractive industry.”

He cites a study from the World Economic Forum (The Future of Jobs 2018) which says the fourth Industrial Revolution is combining with other socio-economic and demographic factors to create a perfect storm of business model change in all industries, adding: “That is resulting in major disruptions to labour markets. New categories of jobs will emerge, partly or wholly displacing others. The skill sets required in both old and new occupations will change in most industries and transform how and where people work.”

Indeed they will. My own grandfathers built steam locomotives and ships. Both would shake their heads in disbelief to see how I earn my living, and neither would understand how it were possible.

Maclean is offering developers a chance to change themselves to keep them relevant in a changing world, where the speed of change is forever accelerating. He says: ““The speed of change is phenomenal within our industry, and for technologists, remaining relevant will be the key digital skill. We cannot be complacent, lifelong professional learning is a cultural norm we must embrace, otherwise professionals risk being left behind. One only need look at the speed with which Artificial Intelligence is embracing all arenas. Those professionals that meet that change, and upskill accordingly, will be the tech leaders of the future. Conversely, companies and professionals that don’t evolve face a far tougher future.”

Maclean is offering his company’s library of technology and coding resources for just $5 at www.packtpub.com, and is urging what it calls ‘everyday experts’ to contribute ideas for a new ebook called Pay It Forward.

In a world that’s constantly changing, it’s the people who change it meet it head on who prosper, with those that try to cling on to old ways very often falling by the wayside…

Picture: Anthony Brown | Dreamstime