Everything's smart in the future of IT

Published June 4th, 2015 - 08:53 GMT

About 3.9 billion connected devices were in use in 2014, and that number is expected to skyrocket to 25 billion by 2020. That's a 541 per cent leap.

If there's one thing that can fit a lot of descriptions, it’s what’s in store for the tech world in the future, writes Alvin R. Cabral.

It is often said that it is impossible -- or, at the very least, very difficult -- to predict the future.

Well, in today’s day and age, nothing just seems to be impossible already, especially in the world of tech. It’s going to be foolish not to think about what is possible, but it is also equally foolish not to think if advancements will be beneficial to users and society.

Today, the tech world is talking about stuff like Big Data, the Internet of Things (IoT), the ever-hovering cloud and everything smart.

Take IoT, for example. As Gartner puts it, IoT is a “key enabling factor for digital business”, but more broadly and in layman’s terms, it is as a way to connect devices to benefit users. A study from the research company says many executives see it as a bit futuristic, “so no immediate investment is needed”. And it goes without saying that security and privacy are among the most important concerns when it comes to Internet and anything related to it.

For comparison, Gartner’s Maverick Research says that Big Data is “bad”, and “in the hands of the naïve, it will cause more harm than good”.

The key thing was mentioned: something needs to be feasible in order for it to be accepted and work for us.

About 3.9 billion connected devices were in use in 2014, and that number is expected to skyrocket to 25 billion by 2020. That’s a 541 per cent leap. In six years. Imagine combining that with Internet of Humans, if and when it does roll out.

“It’s a fantastic time to be in technology and to use technology,” Microsoft chief executive officer Satya Nadella quipped during his keynote speech at Lenovo Tech World in Beijing.

Oh yes, aren’t you thrilled to be living in today’s world. And aren’t you excited for what’s next.

What kind of user are you?

In my own analysis, I can divide tech users into three groups: those who — come hell or high water — will want to be among the first; those who are unaware that they are becoming more and more savvy; and those who do their homework about it.

The first is the obvious — just for the sake of having it. Ever queued up to be among the first to get the latest flagship smartphone or newest iteration of a game console? Or, at the very least, ever observed a queue on this? I need not say more.

The second are what I may call the “ignorant” ones, those who do not notice that they have embraced what devices they’re using and are using them because they need it for what they do. Which may cause them to eventually realise that, “hey, I’m a techie!”

The third is probably where most of us fall — yours truly included. You wait, do some research, weigh if it will work for you and then finally grab it.

But how many of us look further into the future and expect something really advanced? Have you ever asked yourself what next smart thing is coming? Or, rather, what smart thing can suit you? (I stopped using “device” as the noun to “smart” after seeing that “smart shoe” at Lenovo Tech World; it’s anything-goes now. As one person tweeted during the event, “things are getting crazier”, and expect that craziness to continue — probably forever.)

Future technology is equal parts exciting and frightening. It will definitely make life more convenient, but of course there are apprehensions to their reliability. I think we all had our lessons — both good and bad — when it comes to using tech, right?

We have concept devices everywhere, and they do make us drool. Yet the burden of responsibility could probably fall on those companies making these. As many executives say, you don’t roll out products just for the sake of having them in the market — it has to make sense. Because if it doesn’t, it’s — simply put — a waste of time and effort that could’ve been used on something that makes more sense.

Technology also provides a good ground for debate, especially with some thin lines drawn between what is supposed to be developed and not. How many times have we seen a product that has drawn both praise and flak, anyway?

As the adage goes, things have a way of changing our opinions and lives. Technology is no different.

I keep telling my eight-year-old son that all the gadgets and devices he has at present were unimaginable when I was his age. Every time I tell him that, he just gives me a sweet smile and thanks me for them, then resumes what he’s doing with whatever he’s holding.

So whether it is out of ingenuity or out-of-the-box nutty thinking, you just have to love what we have in present and the future holds for us. And certainly, there are lots of ways to describe or feel about it. Have fun.

By Alvin Cabral

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