Connected Workers: How Digital Transformation is Shaping Industry’s Future


This post is by Katie Jones from Visual Capitalist

digital transformation graphic

Connected Workers: Shaping the Future of Industry

Digital transformation has upended businesses on a global scale, and no industry is immune from its powerful effects.

New technologies and enhancing customer experience are key drivers for companies investing in digital transformation, but the most important reason for prioritizing this shift is that it will allow them to leverage entirely new opportunities for growth.

However, with the speed of digital transformation accelerating at a furious pace, companies need to quickly adapt their working environment to keep up. This graphic from mCloud unearths the origins of the connected worker, and explores the potential applications of connected devices across industries.

The Rise of the Connected Worker

The mass adoption of smart devices has sparked a new wave of remote work. This type of working arrangement is estimated to inject $441 billion into the global economy every year, and save 2.5 million metric tonnes of CO2 by 2029—the equivalent of 1,280 flights between New York and London.

However, flexible or remote working looks different depending on the industry. For example, in the context of business services such as engineering or manufacturing, employees who carry out different tasks remotely using digital technologies are known as connected workers.

The term is not a one-size-fits-all, as there are many different types of connected workers with different roles, such as operators, field workers, engineers, and even executives. But regardless of an individual’s title, every connected worker plays a crucial role in achieving digital transformation.

Real Time Data, Real Time Benefits

When workers are connected to assets in real time, they can make better, more informed decisions—ultimately becoming a more efficient workforce overall. As a result, industries could unlock a wealth of benefits, such as:

  • Reducing human error
  • Increasing productivity
  • Reducing dangerous incidents
  • Saving time and money
  • Monitoring assets 24/7

While connected workers can enhance the potential of industries, the tools they use to achieve these benefits are crucial to their success.

Connected Worker Technologies

A connected device has the ability to connect with other devices and systems through the internet. The connected worker device market is set for rapid growth over the next two decades, reaching $4.3 billion by 2039. Industries such as oil and gas, chemical production, and construction lead the way in the adoption of connected worker technologies, which include:

  • Platforms: Hardware or software that uses artificial intelligence and data to allow engineers to create bespoke applications and control manufacturing processes remotely.
  • Interfaces: Technologies such as 3D digital twins enable peer-to-peer information sharing. They also create an immersive reflection of surroundings that would have otherwise been inaccessible by workers, such as wind turbine blades.
  • Smart sensors and IoT devices: Sensors that monitor assets provide a more holistic overview of industrial processes in real time and prevent dangerous incidents.
  • Cloud and edge computing: Using the cloud allows workers to communicate with each other and manage shared data more efficiently.

Over time, connected devices are getting smarter and expanding their capabilities. Moreover, devices such as wearables are becoming more discreet than ever, and can even be embedded into personal protective equipment to gather data while remaining unobtrusive.

Real World Applications

With seemingly endless potential, these devices have the ability to provide game changing solutions to ongoing challenges across dozens of industries.

  • Building Maintenance and Management
    Facility managers can access real time information and connect with maintenance workers on site to resolve issues quickly. Building personnel can also access documentation and remote help through connected technologies.
  • Task Management
    Operators in industrial settings such as mining can control activities in remote locations. They can also enable field personnel to connect with experts in other locations.
  • Communications Platform
    Cloud-based communication platforms can provide healthcare practitioners with a tool to connect with the patient, the patient’s family and emergency care personnel.

By harnessing the power of artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, and analytics, connected workers can continue to revolutionize businesses and industries across the globe.

Towards a More Connected Future

As companies navigate the challenges of COVID-19, implementing connected worker technologies and creating a data-driven work environment may quickly become an increasingly important priority.

Not only is digital transformation important for leveraging new growth opportunities to scale, it may be crucial for determining the future of certain businesses and industries.

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The post Connected Workers: How Digital Transformation is Shaping Industry’s Future appeared first on Visual Capitalist.

Can you trust anything on Instagram?


This post is by Om Malik from On my Om

Photo by Bernard Hermant on Unsplash
Photo by Bernard Hermant on Unsplash

In the end, it is all about trust. Once that is lost, it is hard to regain it. It is especially difficult on social media and the Internet. 

Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook have all lost my trust, as they have done very little to protect the veracity of the information on their platforms. Whether it is political lies spread by bots on Twitter, fake friends upvoting stuff and disseminating rumors on Facebook, or fake shit being promoted as “visual content” on Instagram, these platforms have very done little to maintain any semblance of truthfulness. 

And why should they? Their whole algorithmic model is based on engagement – and lots of it. The model is not concerned about the consequences. The more inflammatory the content, the more engagement it drives. The greater the engagement, the more viral the content becomes. And the wheel turns, and turns, and turns.  

Like I have said before, this deliberate dereliction of duty is profitable for the platforms.

As a result, we as humans are left to make our own decisions and build our own protections. We have to pay for their inaction with our own time and money. The amount of effort it takes to curate and maintain a civic conversation on Twitter takes so much effort that even my infinite love for Twitter is being eroded. I can’t bring myself to care about the constant marketing and unending supply of anger, and so my time Continue reading “Can you trust anything on Instagram?”

Why we need to slow time and scale down

I wore my Grand Seiko for almost 300 days last year – whether I was going to work, staying at home, out for coffee, or on a photo adventure. In other words, it went through some serious abuse and the leather strap paid the price. It became grimy and frayed. It made me think of that time in Paris when I went to get a really fine leather strap for one of my older watches — Nomos — with my friend Tariq Krim. As luck would have it, the owners’ daughter sat next to me at a dinner and we talked about leather, legacy and the importance of social for small brands.

But I digress — the broken strap made me think of Tariq and the time we had together. The memory and information attached to it was the world of a really powerful computer and that is why I Continue reading “Why we need to slow time and scale down”

Speech and Power

There is a healthy debate going on now about the role of Twitter, Facebook, and others (Google, Apple, …) with regard to moderating speech on their platforms. Rather than writing something entirely new, I decided to go back and look at what I have written and whether my opinion has changed since then. As I did that I was happy to find that I have had a fairly consistent approach based on who has power.

Over the years I have written a lot about keeping the government out of regulating content on the internet. For instance, in a post from 2010 titled “We Need an Internet Bill of Rights (And Fast)” I wrote:

If you care about freedom and democracy you do not want to give the government a wholesale way to shut down access to sites on the Internet.  The potential downside from abuses of such as system Continue reading “Speech and Power”

Speech and Power

There is a healthy debate going on now about the role of Twitter, Facebook, and others (Google, Apple, …) with regard to moderating speech on their platforms. Rather than writing something entirely new, I decided to go back and look at what I have written and whether my opinion has changed since then. As I did that I was happy to find that I have had a fairly consistent approach based on who has power.

Over the years I have written a lot about keeping the government out of regulating content on the internet. For instance, in a post from 2010 titled “We Need an Internet Bill of Rights (And Fast)” I wrote:

If you care about freedom and democracy you do not want to give the government a wholesale way to shut down access to sites on the Internet.  The potential downside from abuses of such as system Continue reading “Speech and Power”

The Amazon Machine to Make a Machine

Writing Algorithms, Cutting Cloth… But Controlling Behaviors?

a16z Podcast: Platforming the Future

In this hallway-style podcast conversation, O’Reilly Media founder Tim O’Reilly and a16z partner Benedict Evans discuss how we make sense of the most recent wave of new technologies — technologies that are perhaps more transformative than any we’ve seen before …

Content Is(n’t) King

What Happens When Mobile (Really) Hits the Wallet?

watch time: 25 minutes

The checkbook (or rather the checking account) used to be the springboard for banks to continue, well, banking on their relationship with customers by upselling other services. But now the fundamental platform is rapidly shifting from …

We Must Talk About the Role of Facebook, Twitter in Society

I have lots of thoughts about the outcome of the US election but have been letting them ruminate to avoid contributing to the cacophony of hot takes. Here is a first bit that I feel strongly about as it ties into topics that I have covered repeatedly here on Continuations.

I have been writing about the danger of the “filter bubble” on and off over the years and have called for an “opposing view” reader. I have also written about the danger of “information cascades.” This election has definitely shown that these phenomena not only exist but have massive influence on how people think and behave.

Companies such as Facebook and Twitter that create huge value for their owners have an obligation to society to break people out of their filter bubbles (instead of re-enforcing them) and to detect and curtail information cascades on bogus stories and Continue reading “We Must Talk About the Role of Facebook, Twitter in Society”

Platform Wars: The Final Score

The Hedgehog and the Fox (When It Comes to Platforms and Innovation)

a16z Podcast: Fintech Revolution or Evolution?

How far along are we towards the vision of a “cashless, cardless, walletless, frictionless future” for fintech? We’re not quite there yet, argued BuzzFeed News technology reporter Charlie Warzel in a recent feature story — for which he got a …

Loyalty and the Need for Group Platforms in Insurance, Services and More

One of the big problems most modern insurance companies face is fraud. Why is it that some customers feel they can overstate a claim or make a false claim altogether? At least partially it is because they feel they are ripping of a big corporation which is an abstract entity instead of cheating on say their group of friends or individuals they interact with frequently. Insurance companies in return respond by making the filing of claims more difficult, in the process often denying legitimate claims as well. That further erodes how people feel about the companies making it emotionally easier for those tempted to commit fraud.

A similar dynamic is at work in many of the on demand services platforms. The platforms run algorithms to assign workers to tasks and to create ratings for them (which flow back into the assignment of tasks). Workers are often frustrated by the opacity Continue reading “Loyalty and the Need for Group Platforms in Insurance, Services and More”

The Internet Economy

View story at Medium.com

Transparency and Intermediary Liability: Regulating Networks

Recently I did an opening interview for the On Demand Conference here in New York. As part of the conversation we discussed intermediary liability for platforms and I suggested that complete transparency was a good trade for intermediary liability. Someone from the audience became quite upset and asked, “so you mean Uber should have no liability for a rape by one of their drivers?” I was reminded of that moment when I read the medium post about “Living and Dying on Airbnb.” So let me explain my position further.

Right now platforms have intermediary liability. So for instance someone who suffers injury in an apartment found on Airbnb could sue Airbnb and not just the owner of the apartment. The same is true for Uber and also marketplaces such as Etsy. Fear of such law suits leads to the paradoxical situation that platforms withhold a lot of information that Continue reading “Transparency and Intermediary Liability: Regulating Networks”

a16z podcast: What Comes After the Smartphone – With Benedict Evans and Steven Sinofsky

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Technology is a progression of new ideas and new platforms gobbling up the one that came before. In the world of computers we went from mainframes to mini computers to PCs. And then came the mobile phone, which, in the form of the smartphone, has dwarfed them all. But what does that to mobile? When you have already gotten to everybody on earth, what comes along that is 10X the size? MORE

On Platforms, Distribution, and Audience – by Benedict Evans

The problem isn’t freedom or openness but distribution. And actually, the network is everything. (Blogging tools are a commodity but the network is not.)

Finally, a filter is a decision. Some people worry about this, though I tend to think competition provides good protection. If Google or Facebook have arbitrary and inscrutable algorithms, so do people’s impulses and memories, and their decisions as to how to spend their time. That is, the open web has the same underlying problem as a closed propriety discovery platform — it’s just expressed in a different way. More stuff is created every day than you could read in a lifetime — there’s always going to be a filter. MORE

When One App Rules Them All: The Case of WeChat and Mobile in China – by Connie Chan

This post is all about WeChat. While it’s seemingly just a messaging app, it’s actually more of a portal, a platform, and even a mobile operating system depending on how you look at it. Much has been written about WeChat in the context of messaging app trends, but few outside of China really understand how it works — and how it can pull off what for many companies (and countries) is still a far-off vision of a world managed entirely through our smartphones. Many of WeChat’s most interesting features — such as access to city services — are not even visible to users outside of China.

So why should people outside of China even care about WeChat? The first and most obvious reason is that it points to where Facebook and other messaging apps could head. Second, WeChat indicates where the future of mobile commerce may lie. Third, WeChat shows what it’s like to be both a platform and a mobile portal (what Yahoo could have been).

Ultimately, however, WeChat should matter to all of us because it shows what’s possible when an entire country — which currently has a smartphone penetration of 62% (that’s almost 1/3 of its population) — “leapfrogs” over the PC era directly to mobile. WeChat was not a product that started as a website and then was adapted for mobile, it was (to paraphrase a certain movie) born into it, molded by it.

Most notable, however, for anyone in the tech business is WeChat’s average revenue per user or ARPU, which is estimated to be at least $7 USD — that’s 7X the ARPU of WhatsApp, the largest messaging platform in the world. How did WeChat do it?

But first, some background: What is WeChat?

Known in Chinese as Weixin (微信) — “micro letter” — WeChat is first and foremost a messaging app for sending text, voice, and photos to friends and family. It was launched just 4 years ago by Chinese investment holding company Tencent, one of the largest internet companies in the world. As of earlier this year, WeChat had 549 million monthly active users (MAUs) among over one billion registered users, almost all of them in Asia. To put that in context: That’s only 150M MAUs fewer than Facebook Messenger, almost 3x the MAUs of Japan’s Line, and 10x the MAUs of Korea’s Kakao (which Tencent is also an investor in). [Tencent is also a strategic investor in a number of U.S. startups, including some of ours.]

Downloading the app is free, and WeChat has only just begun to experiment with advertising revenue, so where then does its ARPU magic lie? (Especially when one remembers the difficulty of

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Continue reading “When One App Rules Them All: The Case of WeChat and Mobile in China – by Connie Chan”