Inevitabilities

They say that hindsight is 20-20.

I’m thinking of technology (and technology application) inevitabilities. Back in the early 1970s when I got back to the insurance industry after serving in the US Army and subsequently going to graduate school I knew, I just knew, that it was inevitable that there would be a fusion at some point in the future of information technology and telecommunications technology.

Probably my feeling of this inevitability was helped by being fortunate to be a Resident Visitor at AT&T’s Bell Laboratories (well before divestiture) directly after getting my M.Sc. in Applied Mathematics. The Bell people knew the fusion was coming: heck, Bell scientists built their own computer that supported the project I was working on at that time. They were also working on voice recognition (this was back in the early 1970s).

After the insurance industry I was also fortunate to become a management consultant at Arthur D. Little (in Cambridge, Ma). One of our initiatives was gathering together CIOs and CMOs from what we considered to be important / leading companies from a variety of industries. At one of our meetings, the CIO of a national railroad company displayed an overhead visual of one of their rail yards: it showed trains coming in to the yard, trains leaving the rail yard, and trains waiting to be joined up with other trains. I looked at it and realized that this visual of trains was essentially a telecommunications switching network.

The visual also dramatically, at least for me, reinforced the absolute critical role that telecommunications played in our society at that time (I was at ADL in the late 1980s to the mid-1990s) and would continue to play in our society.

I’m currently doing some desk research for the book I’m writing about insurance and technology about starting dates of various IT and Telecoms technology applications. I find it both amusing and interesting that many of the recent technology applications began in the 1950s and 1960s. Here we are in 2020 and we, as consumers and enterprises, take these technology applications for granted. It. is. to. laugh.

I think that there are several ‘technology strands’ at play that have become, and will become, even more intertwined: compute, telecommunications, data storage, audio, and video.

These strands, depending on the mixture of two or more of them, enable the video conferencing, group meetings, video onboarding, on-demand entertainment, on-demand jobs, smartphones and other smart devices, and of course, mobile, digital web-enabled commerce.

These strands also enable immersion applications such as AR and VR (and holograms).

One key lesson: none of us should consider the technologies and technology applications as new. They were inevitable.

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