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In the next 10 years, more than a billion people will join the connected digital economy, says FutureWorld.

Over the next 10 years, more than a billion people will join the connected digital economy.

So said Neil Jacobson, CEO of FutureWorld SA, in a presentation at the Digital Enterprise Executive Forum in Sandton, yesterday.

He noted there are seven billion people on the planet but, according to the International Telecommunication Union, there are now 7.1 billion mobile subscriptions, many more connected devices than there are human beings on the planet.

"Cisco predicts that by 2020, there will be 50 billion to100 billion connected devices in the world," he said, adding about 70% to 85% of the global population is connected by the handheld device.

Neil Jacobson
Neil Jacobson,
CEO, FutureWorld SA

Never before have we been such a connected society and the impacts on us are enormous, he said.

According to Jacobson, mobile phones are more common than toilets in India; smartphones have passed PCs in sales; and smartphone tablet revenue is bigger than the entire consumer electronics market. It is a dramatic shift in the world, he noted.

"We are living through the greatest power shift mankind has yet seen. The shift of power from institutions down to in the hands of connected individuals, and we have to be careful not to fall into the trap of thinking the connected individuals are us. People with access to technology, people with access to disposable income, educated and etc…"

Increasingly, he said, the connected individual is anybody who has access to a handheld device, which are getting cheaper and more powerful; anyone with access to the device is a part of the connected revolution.

"If I had said to you two years ago we would see thousands of Arabs in robes marching on the streets with a cardboard sign saying ‘Thank you Facebook for bringing down a dictator of 30 years' you would not have believed me.

"We are seeing power move from institutions onto the streets, as we have seen all over the world in recent times."

Also speaking at the event, Lenore Kerrigan, country sales director: Africa at OpenText, pointed out digital is changing everything we do.

"One must also look at the way technology has changed, and the speed at which it is changing – it is doubling every year in speed," she said.

Kerrigan added the Internet of things (IOT) is the new factory of the future, with Gartner stating the value created from IOT by 2020 is estimated at $1.9 trillion.

"An astounding fact that comes out of the IOT concept is that a predicted 30% of today's jobs will be redundant in 2020 because of the IOT. A three-year-old today is more comfortable with an iPad than with a toothbrush; you will get them to play with an iPad quicker than you can get them to use their toothbrush," said Kerrigan.

She also noted generation Z is coming up very quickly and, by 2020, it is anticipated that 50% of the workforce will be generation Z.

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