Welcome to the future of communications
by Eduard du Plessis, MD of EOH Network Solutions Division
Innovation and communication are two of the traits that have allowed humanity to evolve into the society we are today. Add technology to the mix, and we can be sure that we will continue changing the world around us in new and exciting ways.
The massive impact of hyperconnectivity
Over the next decade, place, time, and even language will have no bearing on the ways we collaborate, connect, and communicate. In a hyperconnected world, context and collaboration will become the cornerstones of everything we do.
Technologies like unified communications may have evolved over the past few years, but I believe they are in their infancy. Ten years from now, in a world where everything will be media, merging video and voice will be the tip of the iceberg, with tools, interfaces and technologies allowing for virtual reality experiences.
Enter the millennials
The millennials, the first generation to come of age in a digital world, are already playing a large role in the future of communications. By 2020, these hyperconnected individuals will make up more than 50% of the world’s workforce according to PWC, and their expectations of instant communication and mobility are merely two demands that companies need to contend with and make provision for.
Millennials live in a wireless, connected, mobile world, where their personal and work lives have equal weight. Social media is as much a work tool as ‘outdated’ tools like email, and their devices are their connection to both personal and collegial relationships. Companies thinking that this generation will be happy to accept access control in the name of preserving bandwidth and managing applications will lose not only their goodwill, but market share, in the future.
New communications tools, technologies, and applications will continue to evolve to overcome the artificial limitations that the old way of doing things imposes. Video, images, sound and text are the foundation of the ongoing communications revolution. The next step will be always-connected, always-broadband communication. Networks and infrastructure have therefore never been more important, and will see their own revolution as a result.
The future of corporate communications is being driven by these societal changes as much as technology – in fact the two are becoming increasingly interwoven.
20 big technology trends
There are 20 technology trends that are changing the way we communicate and work:
1. $1,000 human brain
In the future, you will be able to buy a computer able to calculate at 10,000 trillion cycles per second for $1,000
2. Trillion-sensor economy
By 2025, the Internet of Everything will exceed 100 billion connected devices, each with a dozen or more sensors collecting data. This will lead to a trillion-sensor economy driving a data revolution beyond our imagination.
3. Big data is a big headache
Enterprises are realising that big data really means big investments and resource allocations to harness its benefits.
4. Early days of JARVIS
If you think Siri is useful now, the next decade’s generation of Siri will be much more like JARVIS from Iron Man, with expanded capabilities to understand and answer.
5. Perfect knowledge:
To know anything you want, anytime, anywhere, and query that data for answers and insights.
6. 8-billion hyperconnected people
Facebook (Internet.org), SpaceX, Google (Project Loon), Qualcomm and Virgin (OneWeb) are planning to provide global connectivity to every human on Earth at speeds exceeding one megabit per second. This will result in an exponential growth in data and everything that goes with it.
7. Disruption of healthcare
Biometric sensing (wearables like fitbit and Apple Watch), and artificial intelligence will be used control our own health. Large-scale genomic sequencing and machine learning will allow us to understand the root cause of cancer, heart disease and neurodegenerative disease and what to do about them.
8. Augmented and virtual reality
The screen as we know it — on your phone, your computer and your TV — will disappear and be replaced by stylish eyewear.
9. Software Defined Networking – a virtual version of a virtual network! How do you explain a VPN in the cloud? Over the internet self configuration of the equivalent of a MPLS network. As long as you have internet connectivity you can build your own MPLS network.
10. Privacy and security
NSA spying revelations will cause the industry to redefine how security is implemented for networks. Big security risks for organisations are not limited to industrial espionage.
11. Private access to Cloud platforms
Enterprises will migrate to private WAN connections to connect cloud platforms to avoid the security and performance issues of the Internet
12. 100Gig starts replacing 10Gig
Not only carriers but enterprises will start deploying 100G to meet their ever-growing bandwidth needs
13. VoLTE – Voice over Long Term Evolution
Instead off using GSM for voice calls LTE is the future. Phone calls over LTE are more stable than over GSM, and in the future there won’t be separate voice and data channels.
14. Contactless mobile payments
The credit card is dying. It’s all moving to mobile via apps like Apple Pay, Snap Scan etc.
15. “White Space” Wi-Fi band
Ideal for rural connectivity and places where any other connectivity like fibre is not going to work.
16. Public Wi-Fi access everywhere
This isn’t just the Wi-Fi access provided at coffee shops – it will literally be everywhere and it’s already happening.
17. Unified communications
Presence management, messaging, collaboration, telephony and conferencing, all on one platform.
18. IPTV – On Demand
This will replace TV as we know it.
19. Broadband everywhere
Fibre, VDSL and Wireless
20. Everything as a Service
This kind of technological revolution that can seem like chaos is nothing new, even while it can be confusing. If you really want to understand what’s going on, how to plan for, and look at, your organisation going forward, you need to first understand what the future organisation is going to look like and what the future workforce is going to look like, because in the corporate space, that’s what counts.
There are three important drivers for the future, all dominated by millennials:
1. The use of a single device – they want to be able do the same stuff in the same way on different devices (from laptop on the desk at the office to their phones while on the go, to their tablets at home) because they want to be able to work anytime and from anywhere
2. Collaboration is key – big corporates blocking things like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter will no longer be acceptable. This is not how the millennials operate.
3. Wi-Fi for them is as important as the air they breathe and just as with the air they breathe, they assume Wi-Fi will be freely available everywhere. It is a basic requirement for them, not a nice-to-have.
10 practical considerations for the future network
1. Next Generation networking – everything is on the same network. Traditional networks are dying. Make sure your network supports a next generation network.
2. IP Telephony and UC is a way of life. You will have to bring the mobile phone on to your network. Don’t opt for digital or analogue systems.
3. Mobile devices will have access to corporate applications – today normal business applications are being published for smartphones – companies will have to issue employees with mobile devices in the future.
4. The LAN has to be well designed because it forms the foundation of the network and everything lives on top of it. Design it well, make sure it can handle your capacity needs, and manage it well.
5. Corporate wireless is no longer a luxury. Millennials want to work anywhere inside or outside the office building.
6. Cloud-based applications are no longer something of the future. Make sure they are secure, fast, easy to access and from a reputable provider.
7. Network security – everything will revolve around security; everything plugs into one network.
8. Bandwidth – get more bandwidth, you are going to need it!
9. Open up the proxy servers, but monitor, learn and adapt – block the major categories. Make sure your employment contracts are written in such a way that everyone understands the rules of engagement.
10. Keep your finger on the network pulse
End-to-end real time monitoring, management and control.
When planning ahead and preparing your organisation for the future workforce, remember:
• Business will not change the DNA of the next generation
• Within the next 10 years, millennials will be the mainstream CEOs of the corporate world
• Prepare for change
• We are living in a world of exponential growth; we need to prepare ourselves today, as tomorrow will be too late
Du Plessis will delve deep into each of these trends changing our workplaces today and in the future in a series of articles. Look out for The Communications (r)evolution Part 1.
Eduard du Plessis is a telecommunications specialist and has been passionately involved in product development, operations and product marketing in the telecommunications industry since 1997. Eduard was the MD at InfoSat from 1997 to 2002 and in 2003 he founded Ensync Business Solutions. He has driven two successful start-up companies in the mobile data and wireless networking spaces (Ensync and AfricaINX) and is now the MD at EOH Network Solutions in its telecommunications sector.