How Has Technology Changed Our World In The Past 30 Years?

May 12, 2023  |  Mark Hillary

I recently talked to Sergei Levteev, the Chairman and CEO of IBA Group, for an interview published in Intelligent Sourcing. You can read our complete conversation here, but I wanted to highlight one area that we talked about, which is the 30th anniversary of IBA Group itself. The birthday is coming up in May and will feature some in-person events and celebrations at the head office in Prague.

Thirty years ago I was a software developer myself. I was working for a Japanese bank called Tokai – it no longer exists as it was bought and merged into another bank, which was then also purchased. I was working on a trading desk where traders were buying and selling futures, swaps, and other derivative instruments. My job was to build bespoke software to help them keep track of the trades and also to highlight opportunities for them based on a a lot of real-time market data.

My career continued inside banking technology for another decade until I moved into full-time writing and research in the early 2000s. I’m grateful that I have had the opportunity to see and experience this time because all of us working in technology have had a front-row seat to some enormous changes in society. I was using email thirty years ago, but it was an emerging tool so I can still remember the paper memos that would be sent around the bank.

A lot has changed since then – we have witnessed an information technology revolution. The World Economic Forum has even called the birth of the computing age the ‘third industrial revolution’ and our present era of AI and nanotechnology the fourth.

In my opinion, here are some of the most significant changes and innovations we have seen in technology during the past three decades:

The World Wide Web: The invention of the World Wide Web by Sir Tim Berners-Lee in 1989 has been one of the most transformative developments in the history of computing. It has revolutionized the way we communicate, share information, and do business. It was accelerated by the release of Netscape Navigator in 1994 – this software made it easy to browse HTML web pages.

Mobile Devices: The widespread adoption of mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets, has changed the way we access and consume information. With the rise of mobile apps, we can now do everything from banking to shopping to watching movies on the go. Steve Jobs launching the first iPhone in 2007 is a masterclass in how to launch a new product – one of the best business speeches of the recent past.

Cloud Computing: The advent of cloud computing has allowed individuals and organizations to store and access data and applications remotely. This has led to increased efficiency and cost savings, as well as the ability to work from anywhere with an internet connection. Cloud has not only changed how we consume applications and data storage, but it has created the opportunity to only pay for systems as they are used – very different to the earlier requirement to invest in both hardware and software. Tools such as Gmail are a good example.

Social Media: The emergence of social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, has transformed the way we communicate and connect with each other. These platforms have also had a significant impact on politics, news, and advertising – this cannot be understated. The media and advertising industries have been completely transformed since around 2008. The ability for anyone to publish anything at anytime has also led to a wave of fake news and arguably we now have more extremist politics in many countries as a result.

Artificial Intelligence: The development of artificial intelligence technologies, including machine learning and natural language processing, has led to significant advancements in fields such as healthcare, finance, and transportation. AI is also increasingly being used to automate mundane tasks, improve customer service, and enhance decision-making processes. Since November 2022, the release of ChatGPT and Google Bard has accelerated progress – even the general public is now starting to see AI opportunities.

E-commerce: The rise of e-commerce platforms, such as Amazon and Alibaba, has transformed the way we shop and do business. These platforms have made it possible for anyone to buy and sell goods and services online, from anywhere in the world. I recently sent some Cheddar cheese to my father by contacting a farm in Cheddar itself – these purchases would have been impossible before commerce moved online.

Big Data: The explosion of data generated by the internet, social media, and other digital technologies has led to the development of big data analytics tools. These data science tools allow organizations to analyze large amounts of data to identify patterns and insights, leading to more informed decision-making. This will help companies to know their customers better and to deliver a more personal experience.

Internet of Things: The Internet of Things (IoT) refers to the network of physical objects embedded with sensors, software, and other technologies that enable them to communicate and exchange data. IoT has the potential to transform many industries, from manufacturing to healthcare to transportation. The rollout of 5G is now really enabling IoT opportunities and we will see more this decade – especially in areas such as personal digital twins.

Blockchain: The emergence of blockchain technology, which allows for secure, decentralized transactions, has the potential to transform many industries, including finance, healthcare, and supply chain management. Many observers have been concerned that cryptocurrencies are founded on blockchains, but most are now starting to disconnect the wildly fluctuating currencies from the underlying technology.

Gaming: thirty years ago the Nintendo Game Boy was taking over the world. I remember playing it when I was commuting to work. The recent Tetris movie from Apple TV describes that period. Now the gaming industry is the largest entertainment industry globally – it’s much larger than the entire global music and movie industries combined! This is now leading to crossovers – such as The Last of Us moving from the world of gaming into a major HBO TV show.

This list is based on my own experience of the technology industry. I saw up close how banks that were trading shares with human traders started switching to computer-based trading. If you look at almost any industry you will see a wave of explosive change and innovation during these past decades.

Will the pace of change continue at this speed, will it even accelerate or will it slow? Let me know your views in the comments.

    Access full story Leave your corporate email to get a file.

      Subscribe A bank transforms the way they work and reach