When asked to nominate the opportunities and challenges facing the ICT industry in 2012, Alcatel Lucent New Zealand CTO Kurt Rodgers came up with his top three, they are as follows:
Prediction 1: Tablets will dominate I’ve been trying to get my mum onto the internet for quite a while but she doesn’t like computers – they’re too complicated and uncomfortable to use. It all changed within a few minutes of using my iPad. Suddenly she is excited about the internet and wants to get her own tablet. My two pre-school kids don’t even know what the internet is but they love the iPad. It’s a bit embarrassing to admit, but one of my son’s first words was “iPad”. Now the arguments in my house are about whose turn it is to use the iPad. Tablets, whether it's Apple or Android, are fast becoming the way people interact with the digital world. The difference between tablets, smart phones and smart TVs is just the level of portability and screen size. Smart phones are just highly portable, small form factor tablets. Smart TVs are just non-portable, large form factor tablets. I don’t see much role anymore for laptops, desktops or gaming terminals. Prediction 2: Cloud will dominate I updated the software on my iPad a few months ago and was invited to activate iCloud. It sounded pretty cool and I’m very keen to get my digital content backed-up and shared across on my tablet, smart phone and apple TV devices. The interesting thing about these devices is that unlike laptops and desktops computers they don’t have huge processing or storage capabilities. The lack of this capability combined with the desire to access the same digital content across multiple devices will necessitate a trend towards cloud computing and storage. If I activate the iCloud service where would my digital content be stored? Offshore in a US datacentre I presume. This seems like a poor use of international bandwidth which is a scarce resource down here at the bottom of the world. This will have to be paid for somehow, probably via my broadband data cap. I think there will be a trend towards a distributed cloud model where the digital content is stored much closer to the user. Prediction 3: Ultra-Fast Networks will dominate Am I always, anytime, anywhere going to be able to access my cloud-based content without any performance, security and reliability issues? I think the network is the key link in the chain between the tablet and the cloud. Without a good network we won’t have a truly connected cloud experience. This is why I think ultra-fast broadband is essential and am pleased that the UFB rollout was kicked off in 2011. This ultra-fast capability also needs to be brought into the mobile world and LTE (Long Term Evolution) is the solution that is already being rolled out around the world. The switch-off of analogue TV in 2013 will free up prime real estate for LTE in the 700Mhz frequency band. While this spectrum is great for nationwide coverage, many service providers in New Zealand already have spectrum in higher frequency bands which are great for use in urban areas. I think we will see some action on LTE here in New Zealand in 2012. 2012 will be the year that service providers launch their retail services over UFB, and perhaps also launch LTE networks to ensure ubiquity in the tablet/network/cloud future. * This fortnight Computerworld is featuring a series of opinion pieces by leading ICT professionals in which they look at what's in store for 2012. Tomorrow: Rick Shera, ICT lawyer and partner at Lowndes Jordan.