By Dr Joseph Rasquinha, CEO & Co-Founder of Blueleaf Cyberspace, Bangalore
There are a large number of articles looking at what software will look at in 2019. The nature of the narrative today is influenced by data, usage and adoption. While this is a traditional approach, it has its limitations. To estimate how a particular situation will pan out in the future, even a future as early as 2019, is still as similar as looking through the eyes of Nostradamus.
Yes, we can estimate what will happen in 2019 using the track record of 2018 and extrapolate from investments done in present technology, usage of present systems and acceptance of new processes. However, the reality is that these are based on assumptions and even if you cloak such assumptions with the best algorithms, they are still assumptions. To really understand what software will look like in 2019 and a few years after that, you have to look at what I call, “The Triangle”. A bit melodramatic, but it is a more balanced view of how software will pan out.
The First side of the Triangle
First, the obvious one that everyone is talking about. 2019 is expected to see great progress in technologies we only dreamed of 3 years ago and were discussed among the public as possibilities. These technologies have caught the imagination of the public and there are a large number of companies from giants like Google, to the minuscule startup next door working on them backed up by investors and venture funds.
I speak of course of Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain, Progressive Web apps.,Cybersecurity, IOT, and 3D Printing. And the figures back up the assertions that they are the future. Gartner expects Artificial Intelligence to increase by 70% to 2.1 trillion dollars. The blockchain market value is expected to go from 700 million dollars in 2017 to 60 billion in 2020. Progressive Web Apps which replace normal Apps and make everything simpler are the new direction that many companies starting with Google are looking at today. And the last of course is 3d metal printing. Although 3D printing has been slowing gaining ground, it is only when 3d metal printing becomes commercially viable will we see large adoption of 3d printing. And that takes me to the next side of the triangle.
The second side of the Triangle
The Cloud and SaaS (Software as a Service). This is the most important development for 2019, and its progress will determine the level of success of software. From being just another buzzword a decade ago, the Cloud today is becoming the main game! There is no question that the cloud gives tremendous advantages to companies from email, storage, processes, and communication. However, the level of cloud readiness worldwide varies and the diversity of adoption of Cloud and SaaS products are very high.
As expected, from the readings for the top 24 countries who have actively adopted cloud, the developed nations range from 75% to 94% with Japan being the at the highest readiness to adopt cloud. India is at 53%, with the lowest, Vietnam at 40%. This is interesting data, as these 24 countries are responsible for 80% of technology adoption in the world. There are 195 countries in the world. This means that the remaining 171 countries are responsible for just 20% of technology adoption, which indicates that the world has a very long way to go to get on the Cloud and use its advantages.
The third and final side of the triangle
This is perhaps the most important part. It is to do with strategy and adoption. Strategy can be critical. In surprising news, Microsoft has overtaken Apple as the worlds most valuable company. A major reason is that Apple concentrated on its products and made the cloud a supplement to its devices, while Microsoft put all its bets on the Cloud and on Azure. Today, with declining sales of iPhones and the poor response to other Apple devices, its strategy to use iCloud as a supplement to its devices rather than an independent product is costing it big time. Google, Amazon and Dropbox have captured the storage space, and Microsoft is back with Azure. Then there is adoption.
The future is in public clouds, particularly in Software as a Service (SaaS) due to its cost advantages, scalability and convenience. But data shows that more than 50% of cloud adoption is in Hybrid cloud systems. While this is understandable, as companies want to keep data and information under their control, it is not viable in the long run and the faster companies adopt SaaS based systems the faster they get advantages for their businesses.
This brings us to the moot question, which part of the triangle is the most important? Unfortunately, it is not an equilateral triangle and more like a triangular prism. The changes in hardware and other innovations make it difficult to see which area of innovation will move forward faster. The light may reflect on one side of the triangular prism more than the others. However, neither AI, Blockchain, 3d printing and other advances will ever have more than a skin deep market penetration unless SaaS gains momentum.
As of now, adoption of SaaS among companies, particularly the SME segment is slow. If this activity speeds up in 2019, there could be a total disruption in technology, because IoT (Internet of Things) will connect all the dots and change the landscape. The SME’s are the key. The World Bank estimates 455 million SMEs. If you look at them employing an average of 10 people per SME, this is a working population of 4.5 billion. If 2019 becomes the year of SME adoption of software, particular SaaS, we are well on the way to a technology revolution. Let us hope there is enough momentum for this to happen.
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