The central theme at World Economic Forum 2022 is ‘history at a turning point’, which is certainly based on the era-defining impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This turning point in history is matched by a technology turning point; business and society are in the midst of a digital revolution.
Kalyan Kumar, CTO and Head of Ecosystems at HCLTech, helps unpack this revolution by providing five technology trends that will define the next decade and beyond.
- Green IT
“Tech emissions from the technology sector have just surpassed the emissions from the aviation industry,” explained Kumar.
This means that technology is one of the biggest contributors of energy consumption, based on the high computing power and high storage processing power of GPUs.
This worrying trend means the technology industry must focus on moving to net zero and adopt a green footprint across all aspects of their business: physical infrastructure, data centers, the cloud and so on.
“Organizations must bake sustainability and energy efficiency into software products, hardware products and hybrid products,” said Kumar.
He added: “Beyond this, every business is becoming a technology business and at the end of the decade, the biggest green contributor is going to be tech and how tech drives the adoption of green sustainability across enterprise.”
- Distributed cloud
Cloud adoption is accelerating, and organization’s focus is now on how they use it to drive business outcomes.
The technology model of the cloud is evolving into a distributed model, “because of the persistence of latency issues – you can’t move faster than the speed of light,” said Kumar. “This model is moving towards on a path similar to energy supply, where providers generate power from across the grid.”
Now, the question around cloud surrounds how do I use it? HCLTech calls this Cloud Smart. Everyone is already there and what’s important is to understand how to make smart decisions in the cloud or how to make smart decisions when choosing a cloud provider.
- 5G and edge (hyperconnectivity)
Distributed cloud is pushing cloud services to the edge. The edge is where the processing of the distributed data happens and this is only possible, according to Kumar, through a highly efficient, high bandwidth, low latency connectivity that is built around 5G.
"The promise of the edge will only happen when 5G happens at scale, because you need to process data at very low latency in a distributed capability. In this scenario, the capability of the network is crucial, which is why there is there's a big push towards fibre broadband at home and on-premises,” explained Kumar.
- Immersive reality – the Metaverse
“In this hyper connected world, pretty much everything that you have in the physical world is getting mirrored into digital avatar or a twin or coexistent version,” said Kumar.
The Metaverse is the latest development in this new immersive reality that is being used in B2C and B2B environments. This includes virtual reality, augmented reality and extended reality (XR).
There are three significant use cases in the Metaverse: consumer use cases, education and business or talent acquisition.
- Consumer use cases: influence how people engage, interact and collaborate in a virtual space. For example, in retail.
- Education: providing an opportunity to learn in an interactive, spatial environment.
- Business or talent acquisition: creating a workplace that reflects the next generation of workers and their expectations.
“Every business which exists in the physical verse will have its footprint and metaverse,” predicts Kumar.
Digital assets are going to be a very important part of this ecosystem, and new (or existing) digital currencies that map to real world currencies will be needed to transact in the Metaverse.
- Quantum Computing
Quantum Computing uses physics – quantum states of subatomic particles – to create incredibly powerful computers that store data and perform computational tasks on a huge scale.
These quantum computers can solve problems at almost-unimaginable speeds, while also consuming significantly less energy than traditional computers.
“This trend will fundamentally shape the future of human existence,” stated Kumar.
There are numerous applications, such as optimization, machine learning, cryptography and simulation.
In an industry-context, Kumar explained the power of quantum computing will solve and support transportation problems, route optimization, traffic congestion and important medical research to help cures diseases like cancer.
“Quantum computing is going to create completely new possibilities and change the way we live and understand the world,” Kumar added.
Delivering on the promise of technology and ensuring everyone can leverage the benefits
According to Kumar, the level of investment in the five technology trends listed above sits at half a trillion dollars.
Large platform, engineering and technology companies, like HCLTech, are committed to making sure they deliver on the promises of these technologies to help solve the world’s most pressing challenges and drive human progress.
These private companies, working with public sector organizations, are also responsible for ensuring this digital revolution is inclusive.
“The key here is to democratize technology, which is also the foundation of Web 3.0 [– the next iteration of the internet that is based on blockchain with decentralization at its core],” said Kumar.
He added: “The industry must come together, from a grassroots level, to shape the adoption of the technology. We must make sure that we build platforms and products of trust, transparency and flexibility for people when they consume technology.”