Thanksgiving is often considered to be an American tradition but annual “giving thanks” holidays are actually celebrated around the world. Commonly tied to the reaping of a harvest in the fall, it’s a time to come together with family and friends and count our blessings. Technology doesn’t usually make the list of things to be thankful for (unless you are a teenager who just got the latest iPhone!), but this is probably a good indicator of just how far technology has come. In the words of entrepreneur and tech journalist Taylor Davidson, “The best technology fades into the background, because people don’t care about tech, they care about what it does.”[i]
Key characteristics of technology fading into the background are low latency, high speed and convenience. Almost anything that technology does for us today, from checking the weather on our phone to Skyping our friends to posting on social media, is quite noticeable and frustrating when spinning dials and error messages tell us that our connectivity isn’t working. And, if we need to deposit a check through our mobile phone in time for some holiday shopping, we expect that our data will be kept secure. Delivering this kind of safe and seamless experience that fades into the background requires IT infrastructures that can support real-time interactions between people, systems, applications, data and clouds at the digital edge. To get there, IT leaders are removing the distance between IT services and users through interconnection – the direct and private traffic exchange between key business partners.
From getting there to snagging deals on Black Friday, tech underpins it all
Keeping the theme of “faded into the background” in mind, here are some things to thank technology for:
- Getting there: Whether you travel by car, plane or train to get to your holiday destination, you’ll depend on technology to get you there as safely and fast as possible. Mobile apps help you with all facets of your journey such as mapping out the best route, hailing a rideshare, checking departure times or checking in at the gate. You’re running a little late to the airport, so thank goodness your smart car was able to find you a good parking spot quickly! Behind the scenes, the airports and planes are also exchanging data continuously to ensure that your trip is smooth, safe and convenient with things like online check-in, flight and luggage tracking and more.
- Preparing the feast: If you are hosting the holiday meal, you want to make sure everything is ready in time for your guests. You’re expecting a big crowd, so you’ll need two turkeys instead of one. It’s a good thing your local grocery store has been using advanced analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) for inventory management, so they won’t run out of turkeys! They also use AI to send you personalized coupons, which is great because you’ve been reading about a new artichoke side dish you’ve been wanting to try. You don’t have a lot of time to shop, so you’re thankful for the new digital payment system that the store recently installed which makes checking out a breeze. Even so, when the big day arrives, you realize that you forgot the cranberry sauce, so you order it online for drone delivery to your door within 2 hours. No drone delivery in your area yet? No problem, you just open the mobile app to order it from your local store for curbside pickup in two hours.
- Gathering around the table: The guests have all arrived and the feast has started, but your nephew couldn’t make it as he is deployed overseas now. Even though he’s far away, you are glad that he can join as a virtual guest through unified communication services like Skype or Zoom. While it may not be quite the same as having him there in person, it’s nice that he can be part of the conversation. During the meal, one of your guests got an alert about freezing temperatures back home in Boston. Fortunately, her smart home saves the day by allowing her to use her mobile phone to turn up the heat on the thermostat for that evening.
- Enjoying the long weekend: Where would you be without entertainment for a long weekend with the family? Whether it’s streaming video, online gaming or esports, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. As long as fast, low-latency connectivity ensures there is no interruption that is!
- Shopping anyone?: After Thanksgiving comes Black Friday and Cyber Monday (unless you are in China where the biggest shopping day of the year is Singles Day on Nov 11). Since retail has morphed into a blended in-store + digital experience, snagging the best deals is also a hybrid experience. That can include looking for holiday specials online, receiving targeted offers from retailers based on your shopping habits, buying online to pickup in the store (BOPIS) or unlocking exclusive rewards and experiences while in the store through your mobile phone.
Technology has faded into the background for these things because they just work for the most part. But making them work depends on fast, secure communications and data exchange between businesses, users, digital ecosystems and IT providers. Interconnection is the key to success as it empowers businesses to securely integrate and exchange data with partners and harness insights to deliver faster, more personalized digital services and experiences.
Learn more by reading the Platform Equinix Vision paper.