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The Next 10 Years Of Infocomm Technology


What will the future of InfoComm Technology (ICT) be like? How will these trends impact the way we work, live and play?

Painting the scenario of how things will evolve, Cort Isernhagen of IDC Insights forecasted at the recent Infocomm Technology Roadmap Symposium 2012 that the ICT landscape over the next 10 years needs to consider four macro trends supported by four key pillars of technology.

Let me cover each in turn.

Macro Trend 1: The Rise of Generations Y and Z/ C.

By now you would have been familiar with the term “digital natives”. This probably describes anybody born between the late 1970s to the early 2000s, i.e. Gens Y, Z (collectively called the “Connected” generation of Gen C).

Over the next few decades, this young cohort would comprise a rising proportion of citizens in Asia (31%-40% in Singapore, Korea, Hong Kong and Japan, and more than 51% in Malaysia, Philippines, India and Indonesia).

With their lives perpetually tethered to the mobile web, the rise of these generations of tomorrow’s customers, managers and workers will change how we develop and consume technology.

Macro Trend 2: Urbanization.

According to this source, the global proportion of urban population rose dramatically from 13% (220 million) in 1900, to 29% (732 million) in 1950, to 49% (3.2 billion) in 2005. It is projected that this may rise to 60% (4.9 billion) by 2030. By 2050, 66% of the Asian population will live in urban areas.

The migration of populations from rural areas to cities will result in the creation of huge metropolitan areas and crowded mega-cities. These require a change in how technology should be deployed.

Macro Trend 3: IT “Tuned” for Industry.

Over the last 3 decades, IT has evolved from providing infrastructure and hardware to a more strategic role that is intimately woven with business verticals as shown below:

– 1980s to 1990s: Servers, Storage, and Communications Infrastructure
– 1990s to 2000: Infrastructure, Security, Management, etc
– 2000 to 2005: CRM, SFA, ERP, Payroll, Analytics, etc
– 2005 to Today: Retail, Manufacturing, Finance, Government Specific, etc

This observation is also mirrored by the higher spend in IT budgets across most industries.

Macro Trend 4: Emergence of the Third Platform.

In a similar fashion, the evolution of IT over the decades has resulted in the change of platforms, resulting in the development of what is known as the 3rd Platform. This can be depicted as such:

Mainframe-Terminals –> LAN/Internet Client/Server –> Mobile Broadband, Big Data/Analytics, Social Business, Cloud Analytics, Mobile Devices & Apps (3rd Platform).

This emergence of the 3rd Platform creates four pillars, namely:

1) Mobility – Connecting People and Process  Increasingly, intelligent devices will provide cost effective telemetry (remote data measurements) for infrastructure, vehicles, and people. There are nearly 941 million smartphones/tablets manufactured in Asia, with over US$203 billion spent on voice and mobile data services. In fact, we’re enveloped by a staggering 10 billion devices transmitting information!

2) Cloud – The CFO View  With its advantages over traditional platforms owned and managed by enterprises, Cloud solutions will be viewed more positively by bean counters. New vistas of opportunities would also be developed as Cloud technologies change the way businesses operate.

3) Creating the Social Business  As consumers and businesses go social, companies will need to migrate the entire spectrum of their organisation on to social platforms. This will result in stronger networks of interaction and relationships from employees to suppliers to customers. Such a shift towards the social enterprise will also influence all functions from HR to Finance, Sales, Marketing, R&D, Operations, Product Development to Manufacturing.

4) Big Data – Touching the Entire Enterprise  With the growth in data, content, and end-users, information will need to be metered and managed. 2020 will see the rise of predictive analytics , collaboration and workflows that impinge upon all aspects of business. This reality needs to be considered now as the Third Platform will see billions of users around the globe.

Key Takeaways

Against this backdrop, IDC recommends four key takeaways:

First, macroeconomic trends will fundamentally impact the way technology is used and managed. IT masterplans and roadmaps need to consider these sea changes.

Second, IT is now fundamentally tied to the business. To gain resonance, IT plans need to consider the goals and metrics of the business and not just technology KPIs alone.

Third, the 4 technology pillars are changing the face of technology, enabling employees, citizens and customers in various ways. To manage this, consider creating individual sub-strategies and preparing for the 3rd Platform.

Finally, prepare for a “system of systems” approach in ICT design. For cities such as Singapore, this should look at how intelligent devices, pervasive broadband networks and social media platforms are interwoven into city services, buildings, transport, water, energy, communications, citizens’ lives and businesses.

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