ICT innovations that will dominate 2012
In the world of ICT (information and communications technology) industry, things change fast as companies and researchers all over the world are constantly working on making life easier and more exciting for consumers without adding to the cost.
As technological development is a constant process, like during the earlier years, in 2012 too, a whole new breed of technologies are waiting to reshape the ICT industry. Of course, one of the most important changes that are taking place in the industry is the consumerisation of technology where it no more remains with the enterprises alone and will make a giant leap in the consumer space as well. This year is going to be the year of mobile devices as the personal computing space will see changes in shape and sizes as classifications in terms of sizes and performances are increasingly being blurred with devices shrinking in sizes and expanding in performance.
On the cloud
Technology enthusiasts are virtually on cloud nine when it comes to doing things in the ‘virtual space’. No wonder everyone is talking about ‘getting on to the cloud’. The term basically defines the next level of data storage and processing without using one’s own infrastructure or less of it. ‘Cloud’ generally has more users, more data, more applications and better standards to meet. Explaining the trend, Microsoft India Director of Microsoft Business Division, Sanjay Manchanda, said, “Soaring maintenance and energy costs, space constraints, the time and IT resources that are required to maintain the status quo is leading to an IT set-up which is inflexible and cannot evolve fast enough to keep pace with the dynamic requirements of an enterprise.”
Manchanda believes that in 2012, performance and flexibility of IT operations management will dramatically improve for services naturally adapted for cloud environments. Hence, the next generation data centres are being designed differently. They are more modular, more flexible and much more open to new technology as it becomes available. This said, the cloud has plenty of offerings for consumers apart from enterprises. Already, most of us are on the cloud most of the time when we are surfing the internet, sending mails, storing and sharing pictures using a services provided by a host of operators free of cost. Google’s e-mail, Youtube, Picasa and Facebook’s social networking are some of the appropriate examples of how we are using cloud in our daily life.
Director of India and Research Operations at Forrester Research, Manish Bahl, says that consumerisation of technology, for one, is not exclusive to the enterprise IT world and will make cloud in the government sector a reality. Citizens and businesses are putting pressure on government organisations to become more proactive and Internet-savvy.
There are a couple of other players that have now entered the market. Recently, Sify launched ‘mystorage’, its consumer cloud services for personal computing and SMBs.
However, unlike Google, this does not come for free as one has to pay a minimum of Rs 175 every month for availing 10 GB storage space on the cloud. Microsoft also offers 5 GB of space free of cost to users of Microsoft Office 360, where they can directly upload their documents to the Microsoft cloud.
The mobile factor
The explosion in the mobility segment will continue to grow even more in 2012 and demands that IT teams keep pace with the business and adapt their processes, tools, and approach to support an increasingly dispersed and technologically diverse workforce. The rise of internet accessibility has changed the equation for businesses and workforces alike. Gartner believes that mobility offers new access channels to applications and data, and at the same time, provides end users with a wide variety of device choices.
Mobile products such as smartphones, netbooks, notebooks and tablets are coming up in various sizes keeping in mind the form factors a consumer needs. The technology has expanded the usage of such devices to such an extent that at times they even supplement the use of a personal computer or a laptop. The penetration of mobile phones that now stand above 880 million in India, has made internet access possible for a huge number of people who otherwise would have taken many years to go on the net. The cheap internet rates coupled with much higher speeds have made this transition from computers to mobile devices, possible. Some other factors that contributed largely to this trend of mobile devices are the lethal combination of user-friendly operating systems (OS) installed on smartphones and the huge number of applications (apps), mostly free, now available.
The tremendous popularity of the open-source Android operating system in 2011 is a good example. A research report shows that Android now has a market share of 53 per cent in the September quarter, much ahead of Apple iOS that has 15 per cent share of OS on handheld devices. People are certainly moving from personal computer usage to mobile devices since there are very few functions that a mobile device lacks in comparison to a PC.
Apart from these, the tablet segment that has big players like Apple, Samsung and Research in Motion (RIM), is all set to become a down-to-earth product and more accessible to India’s teeming youth as Datawind, a Canadian company recently launched their ‘Aakash’ tablet, priced at Rs 2,500.
This also shows how open source software, like Android, is scoring over its peers. As Red Hat India Managing Director- India Subcontinent, Anuj Kumar, said that businesses are increasingly becoming more confident about deploying open-source technology within the enterprise, instead of reducing it to the periphery or for experimental projects. Multiple factors are driving this increased adoption of open-source software, including greater flexibility and lower cost. The fast-growing e-commerce business is also tapping the mobile market by developing apps and payment gateways that are essentially suitable for the mobile platforms. Since the penetration of mobile devices is much higher than that of personal computers, these e-commerce sites can reach to a larger base of customer.
Video communication revisited
Communicating with people using video will continue to be a priority, says Cisco, over the next few years. Cisco Chairman John Chambers predicted that four years from now, video is going to be the leading way in which we communicate and the primary form of information technology (IT). He stated that in 2010, video accounted for 51 per cent of internet traffic and by 2014; the number will skyrocket to 91 per cent.
Telepresence, a technology which connects meeting rooms over high definition televisions, though not new, is going to be the game changer in 2012 with more companies adopting it to substitute travelling of executives for meetings and conferences. The advent of video conferencing, however, has enabled people from various parts of the world to join each other almost like sitting in the same meeting room.
This is actually enabling customers, mainly enterprises, to cut major travelling cost and doing most of the work off-site. A lot of Indian outsourcing companies are shifting to telepresence as visa woes hit them hard in countries like US.
Most companies provide only 25 per cent of the work on-site, whereas the rest of the work is done in India, to reduce cost. Cisco, in 2010, had launched a telepresence room in Dubai, in association with Tata Communications and Etisalat. The setup acts as a public telepresence room which can be booked online by interested businesses. Apart from Cisco, Chinese network accessories maker Huawei, in December 2011 launched their telepresence business systems in India.
To understand the trend beyond the present year, some of Gartner’s predictions might come handy in the next couple of years. By 2016, at least 50 per cent of enterprise email users will rely primarily on a browser, tablet or mobile client instead of a desktop client. By 2015, mobile application development projects targeting smartphones and tablets will outnumber personal computers by a ratio of 4-to-1.
By 2016, 40 per cent of enterprises will make proof of independent security testing a precondition for using any type of cloud service.