5 game-changing technology trends for 2017

Vipul Anand, Group CIO, Jindal Steel and Power Ltd, on what’s in store for CIOs in the year ahead. By Satyaki Sarkar

Responsible for the domestic and global IT for Jindal Steel & Power Ltd, Vipul Anand has a keen interest in aligning IT strategies with business objectives in a time-bound, cost effective manner. In his additional role as Business Head for Jindal Infosolutions Ltd, he specialised in the turnkey implementation of technology solutions in areas like steel, mining, infrastructure, education, and financial business operations. So he’s constantly on the lookout for new technologies and strategies that change the way business is done. In an exclusive tête-à-tête with Bonne Vie, he talks about the IT trends that will dominate the year.

1. Streamlining and integration of big data
“I always ask people wherever I go, ‘What is the biggest asset you can have?” says Vipul. “People usually give mixed answers, ranging from metals like gold and silver to reserves, shares, fixed deposits, buildings, plants, machinery, and so on. However, I believe that today the greatest asset is data. Therefore, it is important for any organisation to have a proper framework to help manage data. Every day, each minute, an organisation receives huge chunks of data that is generated from an array of keywords, across several locations. The essential part of a CIO’s role is to figuring out how to store the right amount of data and analyse and utilise it for faster decision making. With the developments in big data, it is going to become more and more important to figure out how to sort through the data and identify what can be used and what cannot. Many organisations have been investing in it, but haven’t yet been able to develop matured and efficient analytics labs to fully utilise the information for the growth of the company. The race for big data analysis will continue in 2017, but with the large number of new technologies, processes and innovations being created on a day-to-day basis, we can expect big data to get a lot more streamlined, integrated and utilised in a superior manner.”

2. Ready-to-use cloud solutions
“At the moment, when it comes to cloud computing, people are mostly talking about the cost factor and reducing expenses. Gone are the days when one would have to create a Capex request and get it approved by the board for a huge amount, only to wait for three to four months for it to be delivered to you. Now, it’s at a stage where the business requirement happens instantaneously, and must be delivered upon at any point in time. Cloud technology is seeing a large number of new innovations, such as enabled data centres, tier four data centres, and so on. As a result, more and more organisations will start adapting to and relying upon these ready-to-use cloud solutions even more. When talking about cloud, however, security also becomes an important factor to consider, as cloud data centres and cloud service providers have started providing assured security and safety, which makes it easier to subscribe to them. Several applications are also becoming cloud enabled, which necessitates the need for an additional level of security.”

3. Internet of Things
“The rarest resource on earth is no longer gold, diamonds, or even food, water, or air. It is time. Human beings are constantly trying to be more integrated and interconnected in order to minimise the time needed and so increase productivity. And it’s not even just related to the professional environment. At home you would like your air conditioner to be up and running at the optimum temperature, the refrigerator to be set to the correct mode, etc, all by themselves, according to your needs. So IoT is going to become a reality very soon, and will go on expanding well into the next few years. The technical capabilities of our IT resources in the country, however, have to improve in order to reach the IoT level, so as to be able to carry it forward.”

4. Boom in robotics
“AI and deep machine learning is something that will pick up a lot of momentum and relevance in 2017, as till now not much headway had been made in these technologies. Till 2016, people were talking about social analytics and cloud, but a number of new things are coming up very soon. With AI and machine learning reaching new heights and getting that much closer to becoming a reality, what will follow is an explosive boom in robotics development, as it goes hand in hand with these two. A few months back, I was at a Google campus, where I saw a lot of applications using AI and machine learning, and I have a feeling that it won’t be long before those are replicated and made possible on a much grander scale in our country itself. However, it must be stated that a lot more awareness is required in our IT fraternity as well as among our business stakeholders in order to successfully bring about these developments.”

5. Virtual and Augmented reality
“Data has always been the most important resource of all. So what does one do with all the massive amounts of data that is getting collected regularly? That data is actually given a physical shape using virtual and augmented reality in order to be used efficiently and to the best of its capacity. As human beings, we have always been more responsive to the audio-visual form than towards other forms of information, be it books, music, or the like. With the advent of virtual reality, doors to a completely new realm of possibility will be opened, and converting raw data into real images will be invaluable towards new and better decision making. Whether you talk about education, healthcare, manufacturing, or even aerospace, VR and AR will completely revolutionise each sector. However, the cost of adopting the technology is going to be a key focus area for everyone when it comes to taking a decision. Additionally, the adoption will also be based on the amount of success and failure that other companies have in using the new technology, and it will be through learning from experience that the entire industry will gradually be transformed.” 

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