In the two-day conference that was attended by CIOs and IT practitioners from across the country and from across key industry verticals, the company brought its senior leadership team together to discuss the latest trends in IT adoption and spending, as well as emerging technologies and trends. This was the third edition of the global platform, and this year's focus was around cloud computing, big data and how the two technologies are acting as transformation agents for just about everyone, including IT, organizations, as well as individuals.
The conference kicked off with a keynote by Rajesh Janey, President, EMC India and SAARC, which set the tone for the two-days conference. Rajesh captured how technology has been transforming our lives over the years, not only in the corporate world, but our lives in general. For those who've been in the technology industry for over two decades will appreciate the transformation that has taken place, because they have lived through the 'old' times. In fact, Rajesh stressed on the fact that it was the technology decision makers from across organizations who have been instrumental in bringing about this change by embracing newer technologies and breaking traditional paradigms. He took the audience through a journey down the memory lane to help understand how technology has transformed our lives, and how newer technologies like cloud computing and Big Data will continue the trend in the future.
Tech transformation over the years
Here's a journey across a few areas where the impact of technology can easily be seen and appreciated:
Entertainment: Most of us would remember how Doordarshan was the only channel that used to be telecast. People didn't really need a TV remote with just one channel available. Moreover, kids didn't have to be scolded for watching too much TV, because there were limited programs and timings. “As a generation, we've seen transformation on the entertainment side”, added Janey. Today, there's digital TV, hundreds of channels, and complete entertainment on mobile devices like smartphones and tablets.
Communication: The good old 'wired' telephone was replaced by wireless mobile phones. They made STDs and PCOs extinct. We thought that was a break-through, until touch enabled smartphones came along with Internet connectivity and millions of apps, which made the mobile phones with buttons appear like bricks! The whole meaning of communication has changed completely with smartphones.
Travel: Remember those tiny train tickets made of cardboard and the huge queues one had to stand in to book train tickets? At first, the computerized rail reservation centers replaced the card board tickets, but later, online Internet based booking replaced that with e-tickets.
Banking: Does anybody even remember those brass tokens that you had to take when you went to the bank to do any kind of transaction? They don't exist anymore, thanks to ATMs that are semi-banks in themselves. Plus of course, online banking lets you do a whole variety of banking functions. You can today for instance, transfer money to the remotest of areas in the country, because banks are all connected together.
People who're not satisfied with this transformation
For those who've seen this transformation over the years will appreciate it the most, but what about the younger generation? Rajesh termed them as Gen Z-youngsters who're 19 years of age or younger. This generation is not satisfied, because they haven't really seen scarcity (where people had to stand in queues to get just about everything including their daily ration, milk, etc). In fact, most of what we call new is considered old fashioned by the Gen Z. According to a survey, 58% of Gen Z will sacrifice their TV timing to browse on their mobile. There are 69 million individuals from the Gen Z in our area, out of which some 30 million have access to mobile phones. Of these, 77% complain online about the services, and are comfortable with social media.
So we have two choices, pointed out Rajesh: Either we scoff at them, or treat them as our next drivers of change. Over the next 4 to 5 years, this generation will enter the corporate world, and will demand for a lot of technologies that they're already used to. Will your organization be ready? They'd want access on their mobile devices, apps that are as easy to install as downloading them from an app store, and payment options that are as convenient as an app store.
Transforming IT with Cloud computing
The Gen Z is driving changing the way IT is used, consumed, and accessed. This in turn puts pressure on apps, as they need to be written and developed differently to address newer mobile devices. This in turn drives the infrastructure to change. The infrastructure therefore has to transform and driving this transformation is cloud computing.
Security is important
As we see a more dynamic, transformed world, the security threats are also becoming different and more dynamic. They're more targeted and human based, As the attacks become more dynamic in nature, the infrastructure and defenses also have to become dynamic.
Big Data: breaking traditional IT infrastructure
From cloud, Janey shifted focus toward Big Data, saying that every company has a view or misunderstanding about this new technology. It starts with a scale out data storage, but is not about multi-petabytes of data. That's just the foundation. You have to build a unified analytics platform around it (and EMC has a platform called Green Plum UAP and Analytics Lab for the job). On top of this, what's needed is an App building platform (EMC has one from Pivotal Labs) to develop apps that can utilize data across organization.
Helping humanity with Big Data
The popular program Satya Mev Jayate raised issues like dowry deaths, child abuse, etc. There are 400 million+ people across YouTube, and 1.2 billion people interacting through this program across social media. All this data was analyzed and mapped onto the Indian geographical map in real time. With this, one could clearly see where the maximum number of feeds were coming from and over which issue. NGOs could use these spurts of social media activity as good enough indicators to get active in those areas and drive social reform programs.
Besides social reforms, Big Data can be used to bring about a lot of changes across enterprises as well. But for all this to happen, “the most important thing that has to happen is that we have to transform ourselves, our own thinking has to change.”, added Janey.
IT is the only arm in the company that has a view to the entire information from all businesses. CIOs therefore are in the best position to work as change agents. They can drive new digital business models.
In short, Rajesh summed up the drivers behind this entire IT transformation into one word: SCAM, which stands for Social, Cloud, Analytics, and Mobility.
The author was hosted in Mumbai by EMC