Over the last decade, the technology industry has experienced a significant shift from the introduction of smartphones, tablets, and ultrabooks, to the rise of social media, cloud computing, big data, and the consumerisation of IT. These milestones or "Nike" moments, which means victory in Greek, have had a significant impact on the industry at large.
Earlier this year, the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) identified key technology trends, including cloud computing, sustainable IT, and big data, that will largely change the way we operate in the next decade. These trends, along with others highlighted in the report, have seen rapidly growing interest both in the region and around the world, with numerous trade conferences on the outlook of these technologies, and best practices in businesses.
For me, the technological progress over the last decade threw up an interesting question - as technology continues to progress at breakneck speed, have we reached the pinnacle of technological achievement, and when will we witness the next "Nike" moment for the technology industry?
Technology Industry Milestones
Today, cloud computing literally and figuratively surrounds us. According to a recent survey conducted by IDA, Singapore was ranked third, after Australia and Japan, in terms of cloud adoption in the Asia Pacific region. In addition, an increasing number of IT needs have been turned into on-demand services. Today, server operations that would have previously taken months to set up can be virtually constructed and deployed within half a day, and taken down in eight hours when the task is complete.
Key to the effectiveness of cloud computing are the data centres that make it all possible. However, this immense growth of data centres has resulted in a rapid increase in energy consumption. The growing mountain of data has led to intense scrutiny on the "dirty cloud" leading multinational companies to consider sustainable IT practices.
For example, Project Dolphin, Apple's latest 500,000 sq ft data centre in North Carolina, US, aims at being powered completely by clean, renewable energy by the end of 2012. Sixty percent of clean energy will be generated onsite by two 100-acre solar array installations; with the other 40 percent purchased from landfills that converts methane gas generated by waste into usable electricity. Closer to home, companies such as HP, and IBM and examining the potential of using Singapore as a living lab to accelerate the adoption of green data centres.
At the core of these trends is the amount of data being generated. For example, the Large Hadron Collider generates 40 terabytes every second; YouTube receives 72 hours of video every minute of every day; and enough information is consumed by Internet traffic to fill 168 million DVDs. With the amount of data being generated, businesses are starting to understand the potential of creating business insights if processed, and analysed correctly.
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