Thursday, August 17, 2017

Digital Technologies and the Compression of Time and Distance

Professor Paul Virilio, a philosopher of speed, urbanist and cultural theorist, wrote at length about the impact of speed on society.  He wrote that speed compresses both time and distance. Where once it took a letter 6 months to get to the other side of the world, an email can now arrive in seconds.  Today's near real-time communications has changed how nations are governed, markets operate and commerce is conducted.  The distance and time involved in communications has been compressed into seconds.

Commanders of Roman armies could once estimate the day and time of battle based upon their soldiers ability to march 20 miles per day on purpose built stone roads.  Today, however, a ballistic missile can be launched and reach the other side of the earth in minutes.   As a result, nations and their military commanders must now prepare to make critical decisions in mere seconds rather than taking days, weeks or months to deliberate.  That's a big deal.  In the past, an army could retreat and give up distance for time.  In the example of the roman army, an opponent could retreat and separate themselves by 100 miles to give them the security of 5 days of time.  Today 100 miles means only a matter of seconds.  The distance and time of military conflicts today has been compressed to milliseconds.

The ability to send digitized products and services (digital media) to a person on the other side of the world, and have it arrive in the pocket of the intended recipient instantly is still hard to comprehend! It is the culmination of decades worth of work by scientists, researchers, international standards bodies, governments and entrepreneurs to create something out of nothing.  To harness the rules of physics to deliver a digital package around the world.  The capability of delivering digital products and services around the world instantly compresses times and distances in global commerce.

The ability to launch a ballistic missile and hit an exact location on the other side of the world is the result of one of the greatest invasions of privacy ever known to man, but seldom discussed.  The United States and friends launched into orbit a satellite constellation of 24 + satellites positioned in six earth-centered orbital planes.  Working together, they defined times, measurements and coordinates to identify the exact (within millimeters) location of every place on the earth, including points of interest in both friendly and unfriendly nations.   The result was a digital representation of the earth. This digital twin is now being overlaid with massive volumes of additional data from all kinds of different sources daily.  The earth, once a sphere of uncharted and unexplored mystery that took Captain James Cook's men three years to circumnavigate, is quickly being documented and understood.  Using a digital twin, Google Earth can now spin you to the exact location of any GPS coordinate on earth in seconds. Geographic time and distance is quickly being compressed.

Distance and time no longer insulates friends from enemies, or one global business competitor from another.  Like it or not, we are all competing in the digital world.  If I search on fly fishing gear, I can view content and buy products from e-commerce sites all around the world.  There is no going back to an isolated, insulated economy.

Compressed times and distances also mean businesses must operate at an operational tempo that surpasses human capabilities.  To support real-time digital interactions, organizations will increasingly need to compete with and depend on robotic process automation and artificial intelligence to deliver contextually relevant and personalized digital experiences, make decisions and deliver exceptional customer service at the speeds required by digital consumers.

Increasingly, in a world of compressed times and distances, humans will be the inventors, designers and managers of digital systems and processes, rather than the operators.  Operations will be measured in milliseconds, an inhumane speed where only the machines can deliver.  We will each need digital proxies of ourselves able to work and compete 24x7x365 in digital time and at digital speeds.

Read more from Kevin Benedict and the Center for Digital Intelligence™ here:

  1. Patterns, Platforms and Automation
  2. Making the Hard Decisions in Digital Transformation
  3. The Center for Digital Intelligence Interview Series: Hitachi's Rob Tiffany on Industrial IoT Platforms
  4. Digital Transformation and the New Rules for Start-Ups
  5. Digital Transformation and Leadership Development
  6. Digital Transformation and Competitive Decision-Making
  7. Combinatorial Nature of Digital Technologies and Legos
  8. Digital Transformation from 40,000 feet
  9. Winning in Chaos - Digital Leaders
  10. 13 Recommended Actions for Digital Transformation in Retail
  11. Mistakes in Retail Digital Transformation
  12. Winning Strategies for the Fourth Industrial Revolution
  13. Digital Transformation - Mindset Differences
  14. Analyzing Retail Through Digital Lenses
  15. Digital Thinking and Beyond!
  16. Measuring the Pace of Change in the Fourth Industrial Revolution
  17. How Digital Thinking Separates Retail Leaders from Laggards
  18. To Bot, or Not to Bot
  19. Oils, Bots, AI and Clogged Arteries
  20. Artificial Intelligence Out of Doors in the Kingdom of Robots
  21. How Digital Leaders are Different
  22. The Three Tsunamis of Digital Transformation - Be Prepared!
  23. Bots, AI and the Next 40 Months
  24. You Only Have 40 Months to Digitally Transform
  25. Digital Technologies and the Greater Good
  26. Video Report: 40 Months of Hyper-Digital Transformation
  27. Report: 40 Months of Hyper-Digital Transformation
  28. Virtual Moves to Real in with Sensors and Digital Transformation
  29. Technology Must Disappear in 2017
  30. Merging Humans with AI and Machine Learning Systems
  31. In Defense of the Human Experience in a Digital World
  32. Profits that Kill in the Age of Digital Transformation
  33. Competing in Future Time and Digital Transformation
  34. Digital Hope and Redemption in the Digital Age
  35. Digital Transformation and the Role of Faster
  36. Digital Transformation and the Law of Thermodynamics
  37. Jettison the Heavy Baggage and Digitally Transform
  38. Digital Transformation - The Dark Side
  39. Business is Not as Usual in Digital Transformation
  40. 15 Rules for Winning in Digital Transformation
  41. The End Goal of Digital Transformation
  42. Digital Transformation and the Ignorance Penalty
  43. Surviving the Three Ages of Digital Transformation
  44. The Advantages of an Advantage in Digital Transformation
  45. From Digital to Hyper-Transformation
  46. Believers, Non-Believers and Digital Transformation
  47. Forces Driving the Digital Transformation Era
  48. Digital Transformation Requires Agility and Energy Measurement
  49. A Doctrine for Digital Transformation is Required
  50. Digital Transformation and Its Role in Mobility and Competition
  51. Digital Transformation - A Revolution in Precision Through IoT, Analytics and Mobility
  52. Competing in Digital Transformation and Mobility
  53. Ambiguity and Digital Transformation
  54. Digital Transformation and Mobility - Macro-Forces and Timing
  55. Mobile and IoT Technologies are Inside the Curve of Human Time

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Kevin Benedict
President, Principal Analyst, Futurist, the Center for Digital Intelligence™
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***Full Disclosure: These are my personal opinions. No company is silly enough to claim them. I work with and have worked with many of the companies mentioned in my articles.