Essential Tech #101

Yathish L. N. | Updated on: Oct 17, 2013

Over the last two decades, communication technology has changed our way of life. Today, people stay connected through smartphones, tablets and multiple social platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. Some of the technologies that are enriching people’s life, both at home and at work, are discussed below.

High speed connections

Broadband is necessary to provide access to wide range of resources, services and products that can enhance people's life in many ways. It enables seamless user experience for things such as streaming media, internet phone [VoIP] and gaming. Broadband can overcome geographical and financial barriers to provide access to educational programs and study materials from some of the best universities around the world, support telemedicine through remote diagnosis, treatment and consultations with specialists around the globe, offer e-Governance to help streamline people's interaction with Government agencies, provide public alert systems and remote security monitoring and management capability, to name a few.

The real challenge lies in the ability to get the broadband connectivity to the rural areas. It requires a massive investment to build the core network, backhaul network and access network in both fixed and wireless forms.

Internet of things

People are increasingly using smartphones and tablets for both personal and official work. Touch-based have become the new enterprise standard.

Sensor technology has evolved where one can embed custom sensors to anything that one can imagine and get real time feeds using internet connectivity. For example, alert individual to take insulin when diabetic levels go up. A smart refrigerator indicates shelf life of food items & and lists out grocery items to be purchased. A connected vacuum cleaner can be programmed and operated remotely to clean the house just in time for hosting an impromptu party. A connected car can transmit information about the wearing parts so that the service station can keep the spare parts ready by the time car comes for servicing. So, the connectivity and communication is across man and machine. The need of the hour is to improve connectivity and computing platforms that can deal with this volume, velocity and variety of information and develop useful applications that work in an integrated manner to enhance people’s life.

Social media

This plays an important role in the eyes of people, businesses and Government as it has the power to influence public opinion. It has the power to make or break government or policies and helps in political campaigns, crisis management and handling natural disasters. Law enforcement increasingly uses social media to monitor and crack criminals.

Although freedom of speech and privacy are debatable topics, social media is generating a lot of interest across the globe in all spheres. It helps companies market their products, assess customer feedback and sentiments, get early leads to further enhance market position and improve brand value. As a result, the social media budget is getting bigger and new positions are getting created to manage social media presence. It has become a powerful weapon for transformation.

Big Data

Massive amount of data is generated with every transaction, interaction and observation and big data is only getting bigger each day. The ability to process big data economically and extract actionable insight just in time is a key competitive advantage for enterprises.

Data generated from users and machines may be used to analyse behavioural patterns, create better customer segmentation, generate targeted advertisements, provide proactive maintenance, real-time personalisation and produce new products and services.

Cloud computing

The concept of personal cloud is gaining momentum enabling seamless access from anytime, anywhere, any device in a secured manner. It has enabled quick and easy access to one’s data anytime, anywhere. Medium and large enterprises are also moving to private, public or hybrid cloud to take advantage of the flexibility and agility the Cloud offers.

Though security concerns are widely debated, the reality is that Cloud offers as much (or less) security as one can get in a hosted model. It is more of a change in mindset and business model rather than concerns related to security or maturity of technology. There are many success stories where businesses have achieved disruptive success against established players like in the case of China Merchants Bank in China and Rakuten Bank in Japan where the business is run almost entirely online. New products and services are being made available to the consumers at a much faster pace with better services than ever before while cutting the cost down.

(The author is the Chief Architect at Huawei Technologies)

Published on October 17, 2013
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