Five technology predictions for the next decade

Nick Parfitt, Lead Analyst, Data Center Dynamics (DCD) Having been associated with DCD since 2008, Nick has over 25 years of experience working with companies such as MIL Research, 2003 Research Works, and Spa Communications Consultancy, across diverse roles and industry verticals.

Prediction 1: Technology has worked its way into our lives, and it will continue to become more pervasive in Every day life in an increasing variety of forms at home, work and pretty much every place else. The processes and technologies referred to under‘digital transformation’ have been simmering now for a while, and the next decade will see further advances. The process will mean the pervasive collection, sharing and analysis of data, since data is the foundation. It will be used to improve and shape many things customer understanding & business decision making, management of medical conditions, designing more efficient & safer cities, autonomous vehicles, the list is endless. While the inevitability of this process is generally accepted, the speed with which it will happen is more open to debate. Recent DCD research across the Asia Pacific indicates that India is now one of the leading markets for the evolution of digital transformation in the Asia Pacific, and this includes Edge computing and the use of IoT, AI and analytics to operate data centers. The design and architecture of IT systems and infrastructure will focus increasingly so that the data extensively collected can be used to build knowledge and wisdom.

Prediction 2: Technology shapes the expectations of its customers. Technology may on the level of consumption be moving towards some of the ideas of ‘conspicuous consumption’ developed by the American economist Thorste in Veblen. While Veblen’s critique is grounded strongly in late 19th century capitalist America, the cycle of technological update and new product launch may fall into the realm of consumerism rather than functional necessity. According to Google research, 53 percent of people will leave a mobile page if it takes longer than three seconds to load. This needs to be put in the context of websites that are more data-demanding, particularly with the adoption of video to create attention and impact, and the need to reach & satisfy markets that are increasingly mobile in their consumption patterns. In India, the number of smartphone users is closing in on 350 million (greater than the entire population of the U.S.), and there are estimated to
be a further 400 users of feature and older mobile phones. India demonstrates how mobile technology can bridge urban and rural citizens in a way beyond the divisive impact of conspicuous consumption. The question of mobile means that whatever the power of innovation and thinking that goes into the application, platform, solution or product, to meet consumer demands requires some consideration of infrastructure.

The availability of digital infrastructure of sufficient capability and performance is the foundation of the Digital Age

Prediction 3: Technology is not in the game without infrastructure. Infrastructure here includes data centers, cloud, networks, and storage capacity in both physical and virtual forms. The availability of digital infrastructure of sufficient capability and performance is the foundation of the Digital Age. Without it, however worthy the technology, it will lack the means of distribution, consumption or of the adaptation necessary for survival. India is building such an infrastructure, and one feature of the next decade will be the continuation of investment in data centers to enable digital transformation. The 2019 APAC Survey indicates high rates of growth in India in the future use of co-location facilities (19percent per annum) and the use of both private (26 percent) and public (32 percent)cloud. One key issue of digital infrastructure is that it consumes resources in increasingly large amounts – money (both capital and operational costs), skills, power, water, connectivity, and many others. The era when technology could be viewed independently of the resources required to support it is gone. In the coming years, we will see the increased monitoring of resource consumption to develop an efficient approach to IT and data delivery,and the evolution of data infrastructure that contributes to that. The deployment of IoT, AI and analytics into Indian data centers is part of this.

Prediction 4: Technology will create a new view of the world. The increase in data dependence will create a new business and social environment. This will include new understandings of security, as the level of threat increases with the level of activity and the costs of breach to companies and individuals increase at the same rate. So will also the understanding of legal principles, as they relate to privacy, IP, data ownership and sovereignty. These will need to adapt faster than they have so far in order to work-out how to apply concept of ownership and belonging to a world in which these values have been displaced. If ‘data is the new oil’, then the level of geo-political antagonism that has marked the sourcing and supply of oil is already in evidence for the technologies and networks to collect, traffic and store data.

Prediction 5: Technology may over-reach itself. Possibly, the coming decade will see some enforced limits on the consumption of IT based on resource lack or security concerns. Such enforcement is difficult to carry-out as indicated by the problems faced by Russia when it tried to divorce from the Internet. Analyst projections of growth in terms of volume of traffic and numbers of devices require frequent revisions, as it is usually upwards and new words are coined regularly to describe the amount of data being generated & consumed. Such moves to limit consumption are more likely to be indirect(limiting or paying directly for power, for example, when demand becomes too great). As cloud acted as a brake on the resource consumption overall of older, legacy data centers and servers, it is likely that there may be some initiatives waiting in the wings that will allow the industry to self-correct. Most likely, it will come from the application of digital technologies to the processes of supply and demand – technology has after all a history of self-healing.