Prateek Pashine, President, Tata Docomo Business Services

Digital is now an indispensable enabling medium for businesses, irrespective of whether they are small, medium, or large, and whether they are in India, or abroad. It has enhanced the way companies serve their customers, transact with partners, and expand their market and footprint beyond what was traditionally possible. Enterprises have to reinvent not only their operating models, but in many cases their business models as well, just to survive. Whereas small and medium enterprises (SMEs) will get benefited with the democratization of technologies, large enterprises may find it difficult to fully leverage the new technology solutions due to their dependence and investment in legacy system.

Here are some of the top emerging technology trends for the year 2018.

Artificial intelligence (AI) powered bots (text & voice). Enterprises today are increasingly experimenting with Bots for their most frequently used transactional business processes. As usage increases, these platforms are set to get smarter – and by incorporating them into apps & websites, enterprises will dramatically reduce the need for setting up and running call centers to attend customer calls for frequently used, straightforward transactions to begin with. These platforms will significantly impact call center business, and will eventually transform the old model of outsourced customer service.

Software defined networks (SDN). Software defined network is an upcoming technology which is going to bring a metamorphic change in defining how networks would operate in future. Till date, it was the network which decided the performance of applications. With SDN, the control goes to the application layer. Now the application would decide what network resources it would need and dynamically allocate the same for optimum performance. The customer premise equipment shall no longer be limited to one function. It will be replaced by the White Box concept and the enterprise can use it by uploading any network function software. The same box can now become a router, a firewall, a load balancer, a UTM device.

IoT. IoT applications will span from high throughput (bandwidth) and low latency (downtime) to low throughput and high latency. Applications such as remote surgeries, robotic manufacturing, driverless cars etc., require high throughput and low latency. 5G IoT will open up doors for massive machine-type connections (mMTC) which need to support large numbers of connected devices. For applications which need lower throughput, newer technologies are emerging such as LoRa, NB-IoT, and Sigfox.

Big data analytics. IoT together with upcoming technologies like 5G/LoRa/NB-IoT will help collect huge amount of data from the networks, sensors, machine, and applications. However the critical aspect would be to process this huge chunk of data and derive intelligence out of the same. This mining of data will open up humongous opportunities to enterprises including operational efficiency, effective marketing, better customer engagement, revenue increment, etc.

Security. As enterprise applications move to the cloud, security becomes a key concern for businesses. Next-generation firewall is required to enforce security policies not only at network and transport layers but up to the application level. Enterprises may expect service providers, as custodians of the network, to play an important role in the new and unknown threats that emerge. They will anticipate and demand more proactive protection from the entire Internet value chain, and service providers will be expected to support them with a range of technical and operational innovations.

Everything as a service. XaaS as a concept has evolved from the convergence of Internet, cloud computing, and high speed network. Whether it is software or infrastructure or platform, everything can be availed as a service. XaaS may prove to be a great business enabler to enterprises as it is cost effective, easy to manage and deploy, and flexible. The rise of services like Netflix and Uber indicates changes taking place in the marketplace. In the enterprise space, the emergence of Uberisation of services across the function be it IT, HR, SCM, CRM, etc. is very much imminent.

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