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The Future of Information Age

[University of California at Berkeley]


- Bell Labs 

Bell Laboratories (Bell Labs) is a legendary company in the technology research world. From its inception, Bell Labs has been responsible for world-changing technology, starting with the telephone invented by the founder of Bell Labs, Alexander Graham Bell. Over the last century, the lab produced innovations that solidified careers and advanced the information technology Era. It was even called “The Idea Factory” as a moniker. 

Nokia Bell Labs (formerly named Bell Labs Innovations (1996–2007), AT&T Bell Laboratories (1984–1996) and Bell Telephone Laboratories (1925–1984) is an American industrial research and scientific development company owned by Finnish company Nokia. With headquarters located in Murray Hill, New Jersey, the company operates several laboratories in the United States and around the world. 

Researchers working at Bell Labs are credited with the development of radio astronomy, the transistor, the laser, the photovoltaic cell, the charge-coupled device (CCD), information theory, the Unix operating system, and the programming languages B, C, C++, S, SNOBOL, AWK, AMPL, and others. Nine Nobel Prizes have been awarded for work completed at Bell Laboratories.


- Information Age Began in AT&T Bell Labs in 1947

Few knew it at the time, but when John Bardeen and Walter Brattain cranked up their crude device half a century ago, they were launching a revolution that would eventually touch every human life and reach every corner of the globe. 

Under the domineering and egocentric hand of their team leader, William Shockley, Bardeen and Brattain had been working for two years on a secret project at Bell Telephone Laboratories when the brass was invited to witness the results Dec. 16, 1947. 

Bell Labs, the world’s leading industrial research center at the time, desperately wanted to find something better than the bulky and power-hungry vacuum tube to amplify its electrical signals. 

As the executives took turns putting on a set of earphones, Brattain’s normally soft voice boomed in their ears. The age of the transistor had begun.

It took years to perfect the device, but historians cite that event, on a cold winter day on December 16, 1947, as the beginning of the Information Age.


- The Digital Age and The Internet Age

We’ve been living in the information age since at least the end of the 1970s, early 1980s. An age in which – digital – information has increasingly become a key driver and enabler of the economy and of digital transformation. 

Some point to far earlier periods and the inventions which triggered the shifts towards a knowledge-based economy. Others see the advent of the personal computer as the start of the information age and then there are those who consider the rise of the Internet in the 1990s as the real start of the information age. While we all speak about the information age, it isn’t as if one invention, one evolution or one technology marks the official start it. 

The information age is at least as much a series of events and an ongoing evolution as it is a period in time. So, when someone asks when the information age started we need to give the usual answer: it depends on whom you ask.

The Internet age is the general term for the 21st century. Information is spread all over the world in a few seconds and is available to people in more countries than ever before. It is also synonymous with the convergence of high-speed communications, computers and consumer electronics (CE), and wireless devices.


- Building Bridges in a Hybrid World

From an industrial revolution of mechanization and power to a second industrial revolution of mass production, followed by a third industrial revolution of computers and automation and, now, Industry 4.0 or the fourth industrial revolution where we speak about cyber physical systems. Digital and physical, meeting in industry in a hybrid way -- building bridges.

Product development, design engineering, manufacturing, and supply chain are the next frontiers of digital transformation. It is greater than the digital transformation of your front and back office. It requires a thorough reimagining of how to meet the needs and expectations of customers. It is creating new levels of productivity, growth and sustainability. 

To achieve this goal, organizations need to transform the core operations of their business and build a digital backbone and mainline that extends from consumers to the value chain, and then back.


[London, United Kingdom - Instagram]

- Building Bridges between Islands of Splendid Isolation

In these hybrid times of digital transformation, cyber physical systems, augmented ‘anything’ and so forth, the information age is about building bridges in far more ways than just the blurring of digital and physical.

Information needs to build bridges between:

  • Back end and front office
  • Increasingly interconnected processes
  • Human and machine
  • Machine and machine
  • People and people
  • Silos and silos of splendid isolation, still a major challenge
  • Insights and actions (both being neither ‘bits’ nor ‘atoms’)
  • Existing and new business models
  • Functions and responsibilities
  • Facts, stories, experiences and emotions
  • Existing ecosystems and new ecosystems
  • Raw data, meaning and value
  • Intent and response
  • Chaos and context
  • Prediction and pro-action
  • Workers and workers
  • Location and access
  • Case opening and closing
  • Input, process and output
  • Communities and platforms

The list goes on…




[More to come ...]


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