Peter Serati, Chief Technology Architect at Alteram Solutions shares his perspective on what we can expect to see across the Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) landscape in 2019.
“Trend predictions for 2019? The only constant is change,” Says Peter Serati, Chief Technology Architect at Alteram Solutions. As an industry expert when it comes to Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), this creatively driven technology fundi believes whole heartedly that 2019 is going to be the year that we see a rapid extension of technology. It is his opinion that the fourth industrial revolution is well under way, driven by the digital age into unprecedented technological advancements.
So, what exactly can we expect?
First off the bat is an advancement that has slowly but surely become an every day part of most of our lives – The Internet of Things (IoT). Because so many items have been built with an IP interface, more and more devices are being connected to the internet, and in turn, to each other. IoT literally brings smart house and home appliances to life, in fact, most of us probably already have the beginnings of an IoT setup within our own homes.
The health sector is currently one of the largest sectors embracing this technology, with their wearable smart watches, which measure blood pressure, heart rate, running and walking distance and general speed. Even traffic lights will be automatically adjusted in the not too distant future to ensure the smooth flow of traffic.
And advancements in Artificial Intelligence – is this the stuff of Sci-fi movies, or can we expect it to soon be part and parcel of our reality?
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a term which has been thrown around extensively when it comes to technological advancements. AI is the ability of a digital computer or computer-controlled robot to perform tasks usually associated with intelligent beings. In 2019 we expect to see more AI chips being integrated into computers, smartphones and other devices. This essentially means that computers will become much more intelligent.
For example, a loyalty card programme in a retail business coupled with big data and AI will allow the opportunity for that retail store to predict customer spending patterns. They could even go so far as to offer personalised discounts to shoppers as well as pre-selected shopping carts filled with unique, regular shopping items. This is sure to be a complete game changer within the retail landscape.
With all these technological advancements comes the question of security. How can we ensure that we are keeping ourselves and our environments secure?
Security is always going to be on the trend list. As rapidly as technology is advancing, there are still a vast amount of technologies that are not built with security in mind. Last year alone we saw the likes of Facebook, British Airways, Liberty and Viewfines reporting massive data breaches. These kinds of security breaches can cripple businesses and we can definitely expect legislative enforcement of data privacy laws to be at the forefront of security in 2019.
Another revolution within the security landscape is the Cloud. More and more devices and Software applications are connecting to and relying on the Cloud in terms of communication.
In terms of the Cloud, it is imperative that we are vigilant when it comes to Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks which can take place from the IoT networks and mobile devices. (DDoS) attacks are a malicious attempt to disrupt normal traffic of a targeted server, service or network by overwhelming the target or its surrounding infrastructure with a flood of Internet traffic. Advancements in firewall technologies are certainly going to increase this year as a security measure against these kinds of attacks.
One can only hope that 2019 is the year that the public becomes more aware of, and more educated around cyber security. We are seeing an unprecedented increase of users freely handing their data over to third parties online, it is honestly quite disturbing. People need to realise that any data exchange should include extreme vigilance when it comes to forms and applications completed online. It’s an eye-opener to see how few people know where their very own personal data is stored and just who has access to this data.
Do you foresee a “Wild Card game changer” trend within the industry for 2019?
Block chain and Cryptocurrency, without a doubt will change the technology landscape as we know it in 2019. Currently Block chain is a centralised collection of transactions, similar to a credit report, that can be used to determine the trustworthiness of digital transactions, such as Bitcoin. In 2019, we will begin to see Block chain used as an authentication provider as cryptocurrency continues to increase its dominance over the world markets.
If technology is expected to expand as rapidly as you have led us to believe, how is it possible for ICT providers to keep their skills current?
As with any industry, business is essentially all about productivity. It is important to stay ahead of the curve by attending trade shows, subscribing to pod casts, joining professional bodies and providing an environment where qualitative, not simply quantitative value, can be added to your business. Training is a vital for all your employees, as is the understanding of OEM road maps used by providers. And of course, a keen watch on competitors and their products.
Define the pillars of a successful ICT provider for us.
Always make sure that you define the deliverables upfront. When it comes to tech, we love to play, it is what attracted us to ICT in the first place. We are generally over achievers who’s first impulse is to impress the client, which sometimes means that project timelines and budgets get cast aside. Defining the deliverables creates a tangible agreement between the provider and the client.
Keep learning. In this industry the highest possible OEM certification is only as current as this very minute. Tomorrow you will be at the back of the pack. Clients are always looking to deal with certified individuals and organisations.
Listen to your client and understand what they require from you. The ability to engage and understand clients from the desktop tech right up to C-level executives is imperative in creating an accurate and measurable SLA. Don’t subscribe to personality clashes and ego, focus on what you are good at and always follow best practice methodologies and guidelines.
What are the challenges within the ICT industry, specifically from a South African perspective?
Because these advancements are being driven by digital, the currently disadvantaged, from a technological perspective, may be left in the wake as the world becomes more digitised. The divide between rural and urban areas could grow substantially.
Are there any benefits that might assist in closing this divide?
Many students will now have access to E-Learning content right in their own homes. This will allow for a substantial increase in access to free education for many families across South Africa, with remarkably positive ripple effects. Students can also learn at their own pace, and education can be customised to suit the unique learners’ requirements.
And finally, anything that you think we should be leaving behind us as we move forward?
Definitely not! Technology, good or bad, should be allowed to flourish freely. For example, Ransomware as a virus took the world by storm, leaving many businesses and individuals bruised and battered. BUT, as catastrophic as it was for certain entities, it allowed us to improve in security monitoring as well as IDS/IPS technology.
We should all live by the motto that Knowledge is Power, and any means to increasing that knowledge must certainly be seen in a positive light.