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Living in an era of Digitization and Information Technology

NeW Bureau

As we are living in an era of digitization, information technology is progressively growing. The rise of digital technologies over the past two decades has been significant, marking one of history’s most rapid rates of acceptance of new technologies. If we look to our own experience at home, in public spaces and at work, technological innovation and digitization are fundamentally reshaping our public, private and professional lives.

Digital technologies have already dramatically impacted the culture around work and working. They are far more persistent than they were in the past. We use websites like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter as multichannel services. Smartphone technology has prompted the creation of social channels such as WhatsApp, Tinder, Instagram and Snapchat and this has definitely made us closer to other parts of the world. Today we live in an environment where the Internet and its associated services are accessible and immediate, where people and businesses can communicate with each other instantly, and where machines are equally interconnected with each other.

The computer was born not for entertainment or email but out of a need to solve a serious number-crunching crisis. Digital technologies have come a long way since the invention of the first computer during World War II and the emergence of the Internet in the 1990s. Digital transformation has brought both opportunities and challenges businesses in the past two decades. Though personal computers were available as kits as early as the late 1970s, it wasn’t until the 1980s that personal computers resembling the ones we use today hit the market. In 1985, the first version of Microsoft Windows became available to the public, revolutionizing the software industry and changing the way people interacted with computers forever. The number of personal computers (PCs) in use worldwide surged from more than ten crores since 1990. Each digital wave has added to and built on the previous one. The first wave was the desktop Web. It started in the early 1990s and hit the commercial mainstream in the second half of the decade, triggering the dot-com boom and bust. Its impact has been powerful. The desktop Web revolution ushered in Internet services such as eBay and Amazon, which interrupted the way in which consumers buy and sell products. These businesses are still powering the digital economy. Similarly, Google revolutionized how people searched for information, while early social media channels such as Friendster began to change the way in which we connect and interact with friends and family.

While laptops and desktops are still most commonly used, mobile devices are gaining fast on them, causing a significant change in people’s engagement with digital media. Growth in mobile encounters is particularly strong in emerging countries, where consumers are moving forward from “no digital use” straight to “mobile use”. There were more than one crore mobile phone users in the world in 1990. The user base has now grown in geometric proportion with billions of people resorting to mobile phone usage even in the remotest of locations. Happening over the past few decades is all about the relentless rise of mobile. The first decade of the 21st century has seen the unstoppable spread of mobile phones across the world and the acceptance of some mobility fundamentals, such as texting, payments and the mobile Internet. The number of Internet users grew at an even more rapid rate. It is used for such applications as e-mail, browsing, research and online chat. Internet telephony and online shopping are among the trends.

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Apps have turned phones into everything from a bank to a motion-sensitive video game device. The introduction of the smartphone in 2007 transformed computing by enabling constant mobile connectivity and providing individuals with access to a wide range of new applications and services. Established handset technology and computer brands began competing with new entrants such as Google and Microsoft, offering alternative operating systems. In 2014, mobile firmly replaced desktop as the primary means of accessing digital services.

The technology of the mobile Internet is evolving rapidly, with new formats, including wearable devices. Global internet penetration is deepening. People spend more time online, extensively using social media and increasingly accessing digital media from mobile devices. The mobile Internet also has applications across businesses and the public sector, enabling more efficient delivery of many services and creating opportunities to increase workforce productivity. In developing economies, the mobile Internet could bring people into the connected world. Today, we use the Internet for almost everything, and for many people it would be impossible to imagine life without it.

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