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Let’s build the future with the help of technology

By Kris Senanu | July 29th 2018
Telkom’s Kris Senanu. [Photo/Courtesy]

No one knows the future. Mysterious as it may be, one thing is certain about it though, that technology will play an increasingly enhanced role.

Technological developments, which have increased over the last few years, will hasten, significantly altering our way of life.

Take the mobile phone for instance. At the turn of the millennium as they began proliferating, they could only make calls and send texts, which was then considered revolutionary.

Today, there’s few things it cannot do; and it keeps getting smarter. The mobile devices, which now come in different shapes, forms and sizes, including wearables are finding use in different functions across sectors.

Similar technological transformation has also been seen with the evolution of the motor vehicle. It was once not only manually propelled but also had many of its functions, such as windows and side-mirrors, physically operated.

Today, it comes fully loaded with sophisticated and automated features; and it will eventually be self-driving in the not-so-distant future.

The advent of artificial intelligence, internet of things and other complex technological innovations are expected to radically transform how we live, work and play.

The lesson in the breath-taking pace at which technology keeps changing is that no matter how novel it seems today, it will soon be obsolete; and therefore, the refresh button has to be hit every so often.

The increasing pace of globalization has not helped either but has collapsed time and space, hastening the rate at which technology diffuses across geographies.

Unlike in the past when it took ages for news of a just-launched innovation to get to this side of the world, let alone the actual gadget, lately, the launch of a new mobile phone model is followed live from anywhere in the world. In only days after its unveil, it lands in shops on these streets.

This explains the consistent growth that the ICT industry has continued to post over the years, together with the ecosystem it is spawning. It is dynamic and defies many of the economic laws and concepts.

The recently released Economic Survey 2018 bears testimony to this, indicating that in 2017, the sector grew by 11 per cent, a 9.3 per cent jump from the previous year. This in a year that was marked by a general slump in economic performance. This means that irrespective of the prevailing market conditions, the sector’s prospects remain resilient.

In the enterprise hierarchy of needs, technology becomes a basic one, as it is the only way to stay competitive in turbulent times.

The sector’s continual growth only goes to demonstrate that organization’s – both public and private - are investing. Hence, not paying attention to technology is a risk in itself to any business, the fast-paced evolution notwithstanding.

Alongside the efficiency that technology injects into operations, irrespective of the business or sector and it also opens up an engagement opportunity with customers.

It provides an opportunity to leverage big data and analytics from which insights can be gleaned to inform product development and inspire innovation.

Similarly, for government, ICT presents an opportunity to improve service delivery through efficiency. This is a major part in enhancing the ease of doing business for any given country.

Tech-driven government operations are a plus and could definitely tip the balance for foreign and local investors.

On the premise that technology is not an option, but an imperative for all organisations, whether public or private, the onus is therefore on the ICT industry to support this move that has potential to inspire exponential economic growth.

From payment to connectivity, there is need for functional infrastructure that supports evolution. This should be backed by innovative offerings that address present needs and anticipate those that will arise in the future.

Payment providers of the future, for instance, will need to provide secure end-to-end transactions. Connectivity, on the other hand, requires reliable internet connection.

The number of smartphone users – who are heavy data consumers - keeps rising, with the GSMA indicating double growth over the last two years, accounting for one in four mobile phone users.

In a nutshell, the future is an intelligent one heavily driven by technology. The best way that society can prepare for this is by constructing it.

While private and government entities have the responsibility of continually investing in and leveraging technology in their operations, operators have no choice but to deliver homegrown, reliable and innovative solutions.

-The writer is MD Enterprise – Telkom


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