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ICT Sectors Are Merging Into a New Wholesale Platform for the Networked Economy

Paul Budde

There certainly is a lot of interest in the IoT (personal devices) and M2M (industrial applications) market. But what we are seeing is only what is happening on the surface. Most of the IoT and M2M activities are taking place unseen. For example, all new electronic devices (smartphones, tablets, set-top boxes, game consoles) are now IoT devices. Wearable technology has also become a thriving part of the IoT industry, with an ever-broadening range of possible uses and devices, including smart watches, glasses, clothing items, skin patches, and even implants for health monitoring.

Tens of millions of smart meters have already been deployed by the electricity industry, with literally hundreds of millions of them in the pipeline. Healthcare is another key industry. All new hospitals now operate large-scale M2M operations, tracking their equipment with real-time information. Most local governments have invested massively in mapping their assets; this is now being followed up by adding connectivity to these assets — whether it be streetlamps, drainage, sewerage or trees, all are in the process of becoming part of a smart city. (The number of connected M2M devices in Australia, for instance, will grow to somewhere between 25 million and 50 million by 2020.) Progress is still hampered by lack of standards, interoperability and effective government and industry collaboration.

The intelligent outcome of the use of the various new technologies is known as big data. This can only be achieved through connected information management and data collaboration. Open data systems are therefore critical to its success. Governments are increasing the number of data sets they make available to the public and data collaboration between businesses is also starting to happen.

These intelligent transactions are mostly taking place in the cloud, with data centres forming the intelligent hubs between the clouds. Cloud computing has become one of the fastest-growing areas for the IT sector, and cloud computing solutions are being adopted by enterprises; government and consumers alike. In 2015 cloud computing has become more mainstream, with the majority of large enterprises adopting various solutions. Small and medium-sized businesses still largely need to start on the road to cloud computing, while close to 90% of larger businesses in developed economies have already embraced it. Few people realise the enormous impact that cloud computing is already making.

The other critical element for the future of these ICT developments is the network quality needed for those billions of intelligent transactions between all of the IoT and M2M devices. This data needs to be collected and processed to then deliver executable outcomes with real-time analyses to the IoT and M2M devices and their users, being consumers, businesses, government organisations, utilities, traffic authorities and so on.

In order to successfully implement the emerging networked economy far more robust infrastructure is required than is currently available. The NBN and 4G LTE A(dvanced) — a halfway house on the way to full 5G — are going to provide that robust infrastructure necessary for high-speed information processing, distributed computing, as well as many other applications that can be processed, analysed and managed — all in real time over a cloud computer-based IT platform. Ubiquitous access, enormous capacity, low latency, robustness and symmetric access, as well as the very high levels of reliability, quality and security, are all critical to the success of such a new communications environment.

The importance of access to infrastructure in these ICT developments is leading to convergence of what are still largely separate sectors (big data, IoT, M2M, cloud computing, data centres and telecoms wholesale). This will lead to mergers and acquisitions between the various companies involved in these activities, and winners and losers will be attached to this process; it will be a very dynamic and rapidly changing market over the next few years.

Social and economic developments are further accelerating, and as more organisations tap into this merged ICT space and more investments are made we will see further astonishing innovations emerge over the next few years.

Over time this will have a major impact on the economy. The emerging networked economy will become decentralised with more innovative new jobs and business opportunities being shared. Smart cities are going to play a key role in this new economy.

Given the current social, economic and political turbulence, it becomes clear that we seem to have reached a ceiling in the way we currently use our intellectual ability to address the complex issues that society is facing.

The need for increased intelligence will lead to a merging of human activities and machines, something that is becoming increasingly possible and is heading towards the broader concept of artificial intelligence (AI). Some of the predictions and scenarios discussed in this context are clearly wrong, and AI as described by the popular media is, if it really happens, at least a century away; nevertheless we are pushing the boundaries of our current level of intelligence capacity and, while most current predictions will lead to totally different outcomes, one thing is certain — things will change.

In the end it is all about people — smart people in charge of all of these processes. What is needed is a vision from the top and smart communities working from the bottom upwards.

By Paul Budde, Managing Director of Paul Budde Communication – Paul is also a contributor of the Paul Budde Communication blog located hereVisit Page
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