Tuesday, February 6th, 2018, might well go down in the history books as a crucial day in the history of space travel.

If you watched the launch of the SpaceX Falcon Heavy and the live streaming from the unusual passenger on board you may have experienced the feeling of witnessing something out of the ordinary as in previous historic moments in the exploration of space.

The launch was nothing less than a game-changing moment in the transformation and even disruption of space travel. The seeds of it already lived in the mind of the game-changing founder of SpaceX, when he was still a young man wondering about our place and future in the world – and clearly far beyond it – as he told in an interview which you can watch here.

Elon Musk isn’t just changing the face of space travel. He played an instrumental role at PayPal, one of the companies transforming the way we send and receive money. And what about that unusual passenger, a Tesla Roadster? An electric sports car that essentially turns the car industry into one of software and part of many things Musk’s Tesla does.

Technologies at the benefit of humanity

The list doesn’t stop there. Musk transforms industries by the dreams he turns into action and the disruptive technologies we have. At the same time, he also impacts these technologies and why we use them, sometimes even warning for their dangers, with artificial intelligence (AI) being the major one.

Musk’s several companies are not just using AI intensively to realize so many amazing projects but he also is an advocate of keeping AI beneficial for humanity, having donated $10M to the Future of Life Institute to research exactly how we can do that.

Also, the Internet of Things (IoT) is crucial for Musk’s many initiatives: just think about Tesla’s over-the-air updates. And then there is of course data, software and a lot of analytics.

IoT, AI and (big) data analytics in an age where ‘software eats the world’ no doubt are part of the mix of disruptive technologies that will shape the transformation of more industries. I don’t have to look too far to see that happening. In the EcoXpert program for state-of-the-art building management, energy efficiency and power quality technologies and ecosystem partners, we see the combination of IoT, AI, advanced big data analytics and software transforming the landscape making facilities and the world a more sustainable place by bridging physical, digital and human innovation capacities.

Disruptions can lead to transformations in many ways. Technologies can disrupt, brilliant and out-of-the-box entrepreneurs can disrupt, changing customer preferences can disrupt and people knowing how to leverage technologies, innovate and serve changing customers can disrupt even more.

Disruptive technologies: Watch out for those ones

In my book ‘Digitize or Die’ I mention IoT as a disrupting technology and look at how organizations facing disruption and the need to transform essentially have four choices. It is imperative that leadership within a company assesses and strategizes what the IoT might mean for business, even at the sake of disrupting it, because if they don’t, the competition will.

When you look at the different disruptive technologies, you might think they are disjointed… But when you step back, you quickly realize that we are going to live structural changes in the way our society performs.

Internet of Things, Blockchain, Quantum computing and Artificial Intelligence will change the world. The consequences will be massive unemployment, peak of electricity demand and drop in prices of goods and services. People need to prepare themselves; but you can also take advantage of this to identify the next SpaceX, Facebook of the next digital age.

Below are main disruptive technologies I see and how they are connected, for businesses, the benefit of humanity and entrepreneurs who also want to turn their dreams into action.

IoT and connected things – the tiny pieces enabling the bridging of worlds

To build cyber-physical systems, allowing us to derive the insights needed to cross the bridges between digital, physical and human intelligence and innovation, we need to connect objects first.

The first layers of the IoT technology stack as I describe them in my book are essential to enable those over-the-air car updates, build autonomous vehicles and transform from the edge. This essential space of tiny sensors, protocols, embedded intelligence, data capture, APIs and communication is the very cornerstone of the new possibilities and opportunities empowering people and entrepreneurs.

The Internet of things is just the “byte” of the next internet; it will enable scalable and nearly infinite source of raw data for Deep Artificial Intelligence.

Blockchain – trust and contracts at the service of transformation at scale

IoT without Blockchain would have to face scalability and peer to peer issues. Not all is technology. Human decisions, agreements and cooperation are equally essential to transform at scale, based upon trust and secure transactions. However, here as well a disruptive technology enables this in a digital context.

Blockchain will serve as the backbone of digital trust, security at interactions at massive scale. Security and trust in fact are also horizontal layers of the IoT stack. Without them nothing is possible. Yet, trust is also needed to enable collaboration, ecosystems, data exchanges and connected platforms across companies and industries to transform. At the basis of each interaction and transaction in IoT, transformation, data, connected objects, autonomous device and exchange of mutually enriching ideas sits the need for trust, embedded, indeed, at scale. And that is the true disruptive power of blockchain

Software and advanced Big Data analytics – omnipresent applications to enhance decision making

Once you have securely connected things and people in a peer to peer infrastructures, you end up with a massive source of raw data. IoT platforms, application enablement software and software applications overall enable us to combine and understand data, extract intelligence and unleash advanced analytics in ever growing volumes.

Today we only use a small percentage of all data we have as the majority sits and waits for the next brilliant mind, innovative idea or simply transformative use case in which it would make sense. Software thereby penetrates on all levels, connects, translates, detects, visualizes and enables this environment whereby our human intelligence is enriched with flows of actionable intelligence improving our decision-making capacities

Artificial intelligence – augmenting human intelligence for intelligence at scale

The next step will be artificial intelligence using the Big Data enabled by the first 3 steps.

Artificial intelligence does not replace human intelligence, it augments human intelligence in the mentioned scope of a beneficial AI use for humanity, all the way from improving quality of life as in smart buildings to solving societal challenges such as environmental issues and the game-changing examples I mentioned. Artificial intelligence is the way to make sense of unstructured data and turn that sense into benefits into intelligence into innovation and transformation.

Quantum computing – a quantum leap for exponential growth and (re)invention

As the volumes of data keep growing, our digital footprint and capabilities in business and beyond are at the beginning and, to quote Cisco CEO John Chambers, the speed of disruption is getting brutal and we must keep reinventing ourselves, there is more need for artificial intelligence, advanced analytics and other disruptive technologies at true scale.

They need to be supported by stronger backbones and some technologies I mentioned. At the same time the combinations of these technologies and ever more computing power is poised to be disruptive as such. With quantum computing, another key disruptive technology, this will accelerate dramatically. Quantum computing will not just force us to reinvent ourselves again, it will also be the catalyst of unprecedented inventions and innovations.

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