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BW Businessworld

Go Wireless On Cloud

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Technology has played a key role in progress over the centuries. The Romans ruled the world because they knew how to build roads better than others; the British ruled the world via the sea waves because they knew how to build better ships. After that technology advances have spread globally and democratically. The 19th century was about steam technology and railways connecting people and transporting much-needed commodities and food between provinces. The 20th century was about electricity networks as electricity made everything possible — from hot food on a cold night to communications to entertainment. The 21st century will be about broadband and the power it can unlock in every part of the creation chain. My five technology trends for 2011 are:

The explosion of smartphones: Phones are getting smarter with larger screens, more processing power, superior consumer experiences, better storage capacities and better camera and video capabilities. This smartphone explosion will help grow internet usage in India and will also lead to growth in social networking. For the record, smartphones are expected to outsell traditional phones in the US in 2011.

The Applications Boom: This is linked to the smartphone trend. A smartphone will signal your personality, while apps will help you manage life, from news to diet to meetings to travel to banking to re-creation. Applications will be creative and hyper local; they will be impulsive and also productive. The Indian software industry will move up the value chain if they embrace the creation of apps. This industry has the power to be a global powerhouse this decade.

Wireless in all top-end devices: Wireless will be a default option in all top-end devices because we will have wireless hot spots everywhere. Laptops, e-books, tablets, etc. will benefit if they ride this trend. Top-end multi-function devices such as the pads could stimulate growth and be an effective substitute for laptops. Consumption of media and entertainment will go up. The concept of being connected anywhere will be big in all top-end devices. In hindsight, wireless innovation is something the laptop industry will lament missing maybe five years ago.

Unique identification (UID): The digital identity of every Indian will start in 2011. This will be a major force worldwide as it will be copied by many other countries over the next decade. Who knows, we might even have a global ID one day just like our unique telephone numbers! UID will facilitate financial inclusion and stimulate growth over the long term. Everyone realises the rational impact of UID, but few realise its emotional impact. UID will give a villager immense emotional satisfaction because he/she is counted and known as a citizen of India.

Cloud computing: India is argued to have about 30 million non-farm enterprises, which possibly cannot afford the cost of IT. To these enterprises, cloud computing will come as an absolute boon as it will allow them to pay per use, very much like a utility service. It will allow enterprises to access elastic capacity — the ability to scale up and scale down capacity when required. Cloud computing will win with a combination of virtual machines, virtual storage and access to Web services.

The combination of smartphones, smart enterprise apps and cloud computing could help make Indian enterprises become more information productive and also customer aligned. Technology can make India competitive like never before. India has a unique opportunity to upgrade its low-skill workforce via technology and create a ‘value-for-money' services industry combining low cost of technology and low cost of labour. This can be unique and sustaining in the future.

The author is managing director and vice-president of Nokia India

(This story was published in Businessworld Issue Dated 10-01-2011)