My last visit to countries in our Europe, Middle East and Africa region got me thinking about the power of connectedness.

Yes, it’s a catalyst for Industry 4.0 amid the rise of artificial intelligence (AI), smart automation and other technologies. But someone reading this in South Africa, for example, may think immediately of the high cost of data or the regular power failures caused by aging infrastructure – a daily reality of many South Africans, as I discovered.

All companies will become technology companies

While I was traveling, I listened to Chambers Talks, a podcast by John Chambers the former Executive Chairman and CEO of Cisco.

Cisco has been an NTT technology partner for more than 30 years. Their tagline is: “Changing the way we work, live, play and learn” – all enabled by the network, of course.

As these wide-ranging applications of network technology evolve, concepts such as the metaverse are becoming a reality, supported by the opportunities presented by 5G. Soon our PCs will be 5G-enabled; some early adopters may already have mobile devices with a 5G SIM card.

Chambers believes all companies will ultimately become technology companies. And no matter what your career is or how interested in technology you are, you’d probably agree that modern organizations would struggle to function without the power of the network and the digital transformation that it enables.

Our connected lives in the digital economy

There’s already an app for nearly anything: if you’ve run out of dog food, you can have it delivered in 30 minutes. That’s great fun, and consumers’ rapid uptake of apps is digitally transforming many organizations.

One application I use daily has its service down to an art: if I have power and connectivity, I can transact and pay securely for almost anything in any country. Talk about digital transformation! Even better, it did not cost me much to sign up.

That said, there are also limitations holding back the rise of this digital economy, as my recent experience highlighted.

Driving from Johannesburg to Durban, I stopped to refuel. Because of a power failure, the gas station was accepting cash only, which I didn’t have. Who would have thought that you’d have to carry cash in 2022? The gas station’s automated teller machine (ATM) was offline, too. This could have caused a major delay, but thank goodness my 13-year-old likes to carry his own cash!

The technologies that drive connectedness

Of course, it’s not only the power of connectedness that enables effective digital transformation. It must be done securely, too. AI and cloud computing have created better user experiences in this regard.

The Internet of Things (IoT) is changing the landscape of the manufacturing industry and helping organizations measure and report on their sustainability goals, among other uses. All you need is the network, and now private 5G delivers the additional speed and security needed to supercharge IoT.

The power of connectedness will mean something different to every organization, depending on where they operate, the policies and regulations they must follow, and the resilience of their infrastructure.

Our collective ambition to make progress is at a critical juncture. We can create lasting digital transformation for our communities and organizations alike. To achieve this, we must change the way we work together because a thriving ecosystem relies on working in harmony.

Consider an autonomous car that tells you how much charge it has left – then imagine also knowing that you can recharge easily because the car also acts as your digital wallet, forming part of your digital identity. It may sound futuristic, but it’s not a distant reality as cities, countries and organizations all aspire to become smart, connected villages.

Read more about how NTT can help you meet the demand for constant innovation and transformation.