3 Less-Known 21st Century Tech Challenges

3 Less-Known 21st Century Tech Challenges
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We live in a time when our culture is in such a state of flux that we’re rarely surprised by seemingly surprising things. Today’s technology has resilience, affecting business, economy, politics and society. The rapid rate of scientific breakthroughs is improving everything: the homes we live in, our transportation systems, our relationships, our institutions and our ability to heal from serious illnesses and devastating accidents.

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Although technology is growing at a rapid rate, the more advanced the technology, the more challenges it faces. Let’s take a look at challenges faced by computer software, computer hardware and, specifically, software in business.

1. Big Business Software Challenges

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Within an organization, information systems and enterprise resource planning (ERP) software function well, providing a wide-range of benefits. However, problems arise when two organizations merge.

A frequently deployed strategy to become a more formidable contender in the global marketplace is to focus on mergers and acquisitions (M&A). However, many large companies struggle with low-performance results after the merger. Although there are many reasons for these challenges, the major ones are operational: the integration of information systems and the integration of enterprise resource planning software. It’s no easy task merging technologies after M&As — but if it’s not done in a satisfactory way, all the benefits of the merger, like revenue enhancement through economies of scale, are lost.

Still, it’s not an impossible task. A coherent strategy for IT integration can be planned out in detail as early as possible to anticipate any issues ahead. A merger will only be superficially successful if the integration issue isn’t handled early enough and satisfactorily resolved. A lot of deep thinking over a long time is necessary for things to go well after a merger.

2. Computer Hardware Challenges

When it comes to computer hardware, it might seem that we’ve solved most of the problems and are well on our way to solve the remaining ones. Consequently, the next frontier to conquer in computer technology is quantum computing. Despite plenty of scientific media bites about how this next breakthrough is just around the corner, the problem is far more difficult than most people realize.

Here’s the challenge in a nutshell:


2. Transportation Challenges

Self-driving trucks shouldn’t be compared to self-driving cars. There’s an enormous economic advantage to developing autonomous trucks. When driven in a platoon across hundreds of miles on the highway, they save fuel because of reduced wind-drag. Additionally, the technical difficulties are far greater for trucks. It requires a large amount of sensors to match the intuitive awareness acquired by professional truckers. There are many things to confuse an autonomous truck — unexpected road hazards, poor surface conditions on the road and unpredictable human beings driving behind, beside and in front of it.

Many companies are now testing these types of trucks. For instance, in San Francisco, a company outfits trucks with all the technological equipment necessary to drive themselves. The technology is remarkably advanced, as it’s possible for a driver to sit passively on long trips while the truck drives itself, only stepping in when it comes to navigating winding country roads and city streets.

Still, there are many challenges ahead. While there’s much concern about safety, it may, in fact, be safer than a human driver. A sophisticated multi-sensory truck may outperform human beings when it comes to road awareness and taking the right course of action. In addition, trucks don’t get sleepy, distracted, bored or drunk. The main difficulties, then, are not technical ones, but those related to politics and economics. If the technology becomes sophisticated enough to require minimal human intervention, it’ll threaten the livelihood of millions of truckers. This has created all sorts of political issues, as well as economic challenges.

The Future Beckons

The 20th century was marked by technological breakthroughs. Now in the 21st century, these breakthroughs are compounding and accelerating to change our world. In fact, at this pace, it’s almost impossible to imagine the world a century from now. However, before we can hope to get close to a utopian future, there are many problems we need to resolve — problems with incompatible technology, problems with uniting the world of classical physics with new physics in a practical way and problems with upsetting the status quo with disruptive technologies.

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Ankur Shah is the founder of the Value Investing India Report, a leading independent, value oriented journal of the Indian financial markets. Ankur has more than eight years of equity research experience covering emerging markets, with a focus on India and South East Asia. He has worked as both a buy-side investment analyst for a global long/short equity hedge fund and a sell-side analyst for an emerging markets investment bank. Ankur is a graduate of Harvard Business School. You can learn more about his latest views on global markets at the Value Investing India Report. -- He can be emailed at AnkurShah47@gmail.com
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