They say that the true test of technological sophistication is when you can take it for granted. Think about it: today it’s no longer a wonder that we can book railway tickets online, but rather a source of frustration when it doesn’t work as promised. Today, it’s not surprising that nobody below the age of 30 has visited a bank branch more than once or twice in their lives, even though that was the norm less than a decade ago.
If 2015 was the year that technology’s benefits became most visible —from the Prime Minister extolling its potential in changing how India works, plays and lives, to apps that propelled every aspect of our daily lives from transportation, food ordering, grocery shopping to fitness—we are all set for a new year that will see technology spreading beyond “urban” applications and becoming a “given” in our existence.
While 2015 will go down in history as the year that the average Indian really experienced the potential of technology, 2016 will be a year, where we will see the adoption leapfrog and emergence of applications, which will have a deeper penetration and mass adoption.
Connectivity, connectivity more connectivity: 2016 will see an explosion in data connectivity options and speed. Reliance Jio’s impending 4G launch has potential to change the overall industry from not only connectivity options and speed, but the impact it can have on the way we live work and play. The current base of mobile internet in users in India, estimated to be 236 million will not only explode in numbers, but will also be spoilt for choice. If delivered at an affordable price, it has a clear potential to transform the society. The key to transformation will be to build a connectivity highway, on which every Indian can drive.
Connectivity and payment banks: I am excited about the options that new payment banks and deeper connectivity can provide. The current wallet adoption and usage are limited to the urban Indian. An intersection of deeper connectivity with larger populace and payment banks has the potential to reduce the cash transaction for consumers across the spectrum. This is similar to what online payments have achieved by helping consumers reduce the usage of paper cheques. Payment banks together with deeper connectivity at an affordable price have a similar potential to deliver micro cash transactions and therefore reduce currency and cash transaction.
From data sensors to sensible data: 236 million mobile internet in users in India (and growing) or half a billion internet subscribers by 2017 are generating valuable digital data. The digital universe in India—the sum total of the bits and bytes that constitute our digital existence—is poised to touch 44 trillion gigabytes in just five years.
If we take a step back and look at each individual’s contribution to this, we are able to see millions of little pieces of data that make up our digital identity: from the time we wake up and click on the most interesting news article of the day, to the number of steps monitored by the fitness trackers on our wrists, to the purchases we make online and the topics we share our views on to our social networks. We are starting to see sensors being embedded in physical objects ranging from medical devices, wearables, highways, cars, industrial machines to mobile phones and these are then linked to very high speed and powerful networks. The volumes of data generated will lead to a huge repository of data.
In 2016, each of these pieces of data about individuals will come together to create a rich digital identity for ourselves, and the ‘Information Economy’ will become one with real currency.
IT architecture evolution: With traditional IT infrastructure such as a data centre, capturing and analysing digital identity can be an overwhelming task. As per IDC, by the end of 2017, two-thirds of the CEOs of Global 2000 enterprises will have digital transformation at the centre of their corporate strategy. Technology investments will be the prime driver for this transformation for enterprises to create value and differentiation for their consumers. Most progressive organisations will embark on a journey to get all their data sources together and putting information into a ‘data lake’ derive the maximum business value out of individual data.
As we enter 2016, one thing is crystal clear to most IT and business executives: Platform 3 technologies (big data analytics, mobile, social, IoT, cognitive, etc.) or major digital transformation business initiatives are possible in scaled-up implementations only with the cloud as the foundation. We will see a rapid shift of cloud services from an “emerging” IT architecture to the preferred foundation for enterprise IT and digitally transformed businesses. The cloud services model is no longer something enterprises need to develop “competency” in; they need to master the cloud. The cloud implementations will have converged infrastructure at their core. Given the economies of scale. Flash will be visible in every form of data storage.
Trust and privacy take centrestage: Today, all of us, our opinions, our social networks, financial transactions and even our homes, gadgets and cars are all connected to the internet. Does a breach at a large company affect you? Just ask the millions of members of Ashley Madison whose details were revealed to the whole world to much embarrassment last year. In 2015, from Sony to Ashley Madison to Talk Talk, hackers found ways to compromise sensitive personal information by attacking the servers of large corporations. Trust is becoming an ethical and strategic business issue. Privacy of citizen information will be critical. While transparency and trust will always be paramount for organisations to deliver and convey, consumers will become empowered to take more control of their privacy through new privacy-enhancing tools.
In short, 2016 will be a landmark year in the technology space in India, creating real transformation lives of citizens, consumers and organisations. Riding the wave—rather than drowning in data—will indicate who will remain standing 12 months from now.
By Rajesh Janey
The writer is president—India and SAARC at EMC