Technology as an enabler for Connected Communities
by Rumbi Dakwa
A clock was an unnecessary gadget
In the summer of 1998, I had this memorable long night chat with my uncles, Ishmael Jeko, Professor Prometheus and Manata Jeko, Native. This was how we would spend our nights of catch up when they come to visit me in my single rented room in Rujeko suburb in Masvingo. The night stories would range from politics, social, technology, religious, business and sports. I remember on this one night, among other stories, we spoke about technology and its relevance to society. The Professor challenged us to go check each household in our rural village to find out how many of them had a working watch or anything to show time in their houses. He argued that time, defined as hours and minutes was not relevant to the people in the village and therefore a watch or clock was an unnecessary gadget to them. I took the challenge and undertook the survey a couple of months later and it turned out that he was right. Almost all the households didn’t have a watch and they didn’t need it. Their concept of time didn’t revolve around clock hours and minutes but was defined by day and night with natural visibility.
Fast forward to 2019, I live in the city and access to the internet made it very easy to track technology trends. Our societies have vastly changed over the years as we now live in connected communities, with technology driven conveniences and realities. It is because of this global village setting that we can no longer look at ourselves as an isolated village whose concept of time is determined by day and night.
Intelligent Digital Mesh (IDM)
The technological trends of today and beyond are all about the development of what has been termed the “Intelligent Digital Mesh” (IDM), Gartner 2017. The IDM is an IT trifecta of “meshed people, devices content and services” with the power to propel every level of the business. The measure of any innovation nowadays is its relevance to the advancement and sustenance of the IDM. Any business that harnesses the conveniences brought about by the IDM will stand a better chance to survive going into the future.
Advancement of Internet of Things (IoT)
The Internet of Things (IoT) is a culmination of a connected world where people can interact with devices and services over the internet. This is the buzz word with potential value of IoT beginning to be realised in both the business and consumer markets alike. Applicability of IoT in business today has brought about increased automation with autonomous devices making their way into all sectors of the economy.
Potential uses of IoT in business include remote sensing and control used in manufacturing and agriculture, smart light and temperature control as well as smart sensors which can be used for routines maintenance.
Artificial Intelligence and Advanced Machine Learning
On June 21, 2017, Accenture in collaboration with Frontier Economics modelled the impact of Artificial Intelligence indicating that there is potential to increase corporate profitability in 16 industries by an average of 38% by 2035. This translates into an economic boost of US$14 trillion in gross value added (GVA) across 16 industries in 12 economies which generate more than 50% of the world’s economic wealth.
The biggest challenge acknowledged globally is the availability of skill sets required to integrate these technologies into our current environments to access the data, analyze it and successfully create models for use in business decisions. With the projected benefits to the business into the future, this is a worthy investment for any business.
Use of AI together with intelligent applications enable human-systems interaction in business leading to the automation of several tasks which results in improved customer and convenience.
Advanced analytics bring a wide range of benefits such as business dashboards, data set creation for modelling, interactive data exploration, collaboration and general ease of use.
Software as a Service (SaaS)
Demand for cloud services, computing, storage and services is going to increase going into the future. More companies would want to benefit from the latest technological capabilities without incurring the cost of ownership and maintenance. Companies will also want to benefit from easy and rapid scalability and flexibility that comes with acquiring SaaS services from providers. This is an ideal approach for SMEs particularly and by the same token, SaaS providers should also come up with packages and services that appeal more to this ready market.
The IDM has opened the world to unprecedent vulnerabilities. The more we rely on ICTs, the more we become vulnerable hence the heightened need for improved cyber security. The dark web has organized itself to provide infrastructure as a service to criminals. This level of coordination can only be matched and contained if there is equal corporation and collaboration on cyber security. The need for ICT security awareness, tools and skills is on the rise now more than ever.
The bedrock of ICTs is connectivity and the future of connectivity is 5G. The race to 5G is intense with wars raging between the East and West superpowers over 5G among other things. Smart cities are the next real thing that we should start to embrace in leaps and bounds as technologies allow us in order to stay relevant in the global market space.
We are living amid rapid technological transformation and this puts huge responsibilities on the shoulders of CTOs and CIOs in organisation as they are tasked with ensuring that there is a balance between the business investments in trending ICTs with global business objectives. Technological trends are like ocean tides which you either ride and glide on its force if well timed or wait for it to bury you to the bottom of the ocean with the same force.
This article was contributed by Edward Chikoto. Edward Chikoto is a technology enthusiast with over 15 years of experience in the ICT/Telecoms industry. He is currently the Operations Manager for Utande Internet Services. Previously he was the Head Infrastructure and Development at YoAfrica.
October 8, 2019