6 tech predictions for the year

Sankarson Banerjee, CTO Projects, National Stock Exchange of India Limited, on the tech trends for the year ahead. By Shweta Gandhi

Sankarson Banerjee is an influential name in the industry, with over 20 years of experience in a variety of organisations including Accenture, IIFL and Futurebazaar India Ltd. He presently works as the CTO Projects at the National Stock Exchange of India, where he is responsible for infrastructure and operations. He was recently recognised as an influential Financial Services Icon at CIO Power List 2016.

“CIOs are surrounded by numerous changes in technology today. They need to be careful of which technology is genuine, which is hyped and be able to distinguish between the two,” he says. “One of the biggest issues in our country is availability of skills. We lack in cultivating the smartest programmers. How often do we contribute to open-source projects or are represented as thought leaders? If we can find ways to better that, we will be able to improve our IT industry,” he says. Here, he shares his thoughts on technologies that will be in focus in the coming year.

1. Fluid infrastructure
“We are moving towards a fluid infrastructure that is not just virtualisation, but deals with the whole business of combination of virtualisation. We are more and more moving towards Cloud as a machine. All of the work done on multiple machines is now being relegated to one application, and you will find this increasingly gaining popularity now.”

2. New languages
“This year is about enhancing individual productivity and this is an area that a lot of large IT companies are now focussing on. This can be done by combining process designs and tools that can let people focus more on error-free output—and one of those tools is new languages and frameworks. For the Web these are already multiplying productivity over traditional languages; I predict more high-level languages and frameworks will emerge in more areas removing many housekeeping functions and acting as the next generation in amplifying productivity.”

3. Blockchain
“Blockchain is a new kid on the block, which is garnering a lot of attention. As a technology it is quite mature because of its usage in crypto-currencies, but the use cases are still evolving. Outside a crypto-currency, it’s still not clear how it can be used in businesses to solve a problem in a better way than traditional approaches. Blockchain requires a lot more compute power than traditional tech, so it has to provide significant leaps in capability or ease for particular business scenarios to replace existing technologies.”

4. Internet of Things
“Internet of Things (IoT) has been around for a while, but it was originally envisaged as a way for devices to talk to each other. Today, the technology has evolved more into a way to provide intelligence to each individual device to perform its functions more intelligently. Most devices have become more intelligent with the help of the computing power available on the cloud. The core idea isn’t automation as much as the ability to respond more intelligently to humans. Siri, the voice recognition feature from Apple, is a good example here—all the data is pumped into the cloud, and Siri, so to say, has become more intelligent because the app is able to use the massive amount of data and compute on the cloud. Another example is that cars in the US are now coming incorporated with 4G. This is making them more intelligent, for now they can measure your analytics and tell you how much fuel you’re consuming, how you’re driving, etc. Soon the car will do most of the driving, relying on you only for assistance in tricky situations. Basically, IoT has become devices connected to a large data net, and it has dramatically changed the way we see and interact with the devices in our world.”

5. Social technologies
“Peer-to-peer technology continues to be popular. Companies have started becoming more social, providing internal chat options that have transformed communication between employees, making it more constructive. After all, emails only serve to answer one person at a time, while chat can simultaneously do that to multiple people. With companies becoming multi-locational, instant chat and other social interaction options make communication much more productive.”

6. E-commerce versus m-commerce
“Transformation has been happening on the mobile interface, and e-commerce started facing an issue with unsustainable discounts, as there is a large base of people who like online shopping because of cheaper prices. A company’s valuation is based on its turnover, and if they stop the discounts, turnover will fall and with it the astronomical valuations they achieved. This is the problem e-commerce is facing right now and they have to see if they can become profitable in the long term without constant discounts— and this is true whether it’s for website or mobile. The fallacy is that it’s about E or M—people will buy what’s available because they want it, not because it’s on one channel and not on another. M will not magically persuade people to buy more often or pay more.”

7. Increased digital and social presence
“The planning processes of many organisations are not heavily digital. Initially, NSE did not have a mobile policy, so before we launched an app we had to think that through. Secondly, many conventional organisations are still understanding digital and learning how to use it. We’re still not as mobile as we’d like to be. The industry will surely be far more digital in the next three to five years.

“Some companies have become quite good at it, but then there are some that are far, far away from social media. There are two reasons for that—one, traditional culture in a company is not very social and collaborative and a tool cannot change that. And two, there are a lot of regulations that some companies have to bind themselves to, which inhibits free flow of information within and across the company. Some others are learning about the public face of social media—their internal social interactions may be quite mature, but their interactions on Twitter may be very dry.

“Coming to socially active CIOs—some companies who are building their brand may require their CIOs to be thought leaders and be active on social media. Others may choose to be quiet. CIOs may have to ask the question, what does the CIO bring to the company through greater presence on social media?” 

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