It’s been a long time since I felt like I do now. 1993 to be precise.
In 1993 I was working in Paris with a ‘386 LCD screened laptop and had just loaded 40 3.5” diskettes to get Microsoft Visual C installed. Computing was difficult, slow and expensive then. Few people knew how things worked or what it could do. Many of my bosses couldn’t work their email and none used spreadsheets. We may have used computers to desk-top publish but we still printed slides onto acetate to project them.
I was writing software for Schlumberger at the time. I was in Paris and working on Sun Microsystems boxes running X-Windows.
So why 1993 precisely?
I installed a programme called Mosaic. It was available on PC’s, Mac’s and Unix and you could download it from CERN in Switzerland using FTP, if you knew how. You could compile it using Gnu C, if you knew how. It connected to the network and let you do all sorts of clever things through WAIS, Gopher and HTTP, if you knew how.
My fellow engineers and I were blown away by the potential. It was obvious to us. When we showed this to our bosses back then they had no idea what the point of it was, how to use it or why it was important. And I couldn’t find the words to explain – there was such a gulf of understanding and so little time to fill in the blanks.
By 1997 Mosaic was Netscape and the internet boom got underway, I could buy a book from Amazon and have them send it to me in Norway and I had opened a US Brokerage account with a company called Etrade that you could access over a telnet connection to Compuserve. Now my bosses were intrigued, but still not investing. Investment in Linux version of our software and internet browsing didn’t start until 1999. Looking back that was quick, but at the time is seemed like an age.
I think about the changes that happened between 1993-2003 (just before the iPhone was launched), and the difference between 2003 and 2013 – how social media, location services and mobile internet have taken off. Life is very different now than it was 25 years ago, and it’s all driven from that set of technologies that Mosaic brought together.
Look at the difference at the productivity levels of geoscientist and data analysis with in Oil companies. That has tracked the changes in wider technology and information processing.
Now look at how little has changed in the operations of an oilfield since 1993.
Industry 4.0 feels like Mosaic did. It’s big, it’s going to be rapid and it’s going to change everything. Yet I still can’t find the words to explain it to the people I meet who are still struggling with their email. But I’m working on it.
Read this primer and perhaps you can help me explain to operations management: https://bestemnetwork.com/2016/03/29/innovation-and-productivity-with-4th-industrial-revolution/