Cisco Boss: How Firms Are Braving The New Tech Frontier
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Cisco Boss: How Firms Are Braving The New Tech Frontier

Cisco Boss: How Firms Are Braving The New Tech Frontier

Emerging tech trends set to redefine business and everyday life in the Middle East in 2014, says Tarek Ghoul.

Gulf Business

Business-leaders: imagine holding a virtual press conference between Dubai, London, and New York, sharing real-time interactive whiteboards and online videos, fielding questions from global journalists, and posting real-time video across the company’s social media accounts.

These abilities were once only available for the world’s largest enterprises – but are now set to transform businesses of all sizes across the Middle East, thanks to several technology trends: browser-based video collaboration, video mega trends, context aware computing, machine-to-machine connections, security, mobile device management, and new Internet architectures.

Businesses across the Middle East are already buzzing about the rise of new technologies. The Middle East’s dynamic IT market is projected to reach $32 billion by 2014, according to the IDC, whereas Cisco predicts the Middle East and Africa will post the world’s strongest mobile data traffic 77 percent CAGR to 2017.

Browser-based video and collaboration tools and video mega trends will be game-changing. Together, they can revolutionize real-time employee collaboration in fields such as commerce and retail, healthcare, education, manufacturing, transportation, and security.

Employees will soon be able to seamlessly work across different office locations and mobile devices, integrating in real-time ultra HD audio-visual conferences, text notepads, and whiteboards, and share files, photos, and social media posts.

Beyond the boardroom, imagine applying these tools in education or healthcare: a Geography teacher can connect with a far-off classroom to learn about local culture, while a surgeon could guide doctors thousands halfway around the world to save lives after a natural disaster.

Video mega trends, meanwhile, will enhance viewing experience on TVs and mobile devices, making teleconferencing and viewing presentations as clear on a smart glasses as on an 8K Ultra High Definition TV in an office.

As our devices increasingly learn about our daily lives, context-aware computing is set to fundamentally change how we interact with our devices. We’re seeing a change from any content for any people at anytime and anywhere, to the relevant information sent to the targeted person how, when, and where that person needs it.

This is big news for retailers. The Middle East is an early adopter market for mobile devices and mobile apps, and customers will soon make purchases, receive GPS-based specials in malls and shops, and contact companies – all from the convenience of their mobile devices.

Manufacturing is another exciting example. Let’s say a salesperson calls in a custom car order. The parts are tagged with RFID, and then the final product is tracked from the factory floor to the showroom by CCTV and GPS-enabled mobile apps.

Soon, practically everything – roads, jet-engine parts, shoes, refrigerators, soil, and supermarket shelves – will have cheap, tiny sensors generating terabytes of data that can be sifted for insights.

By 2022, Cisco predicts person-to-machine and person-to-person connections will constitute a combined 55 per cent of the total “Internet of Everything” – the connection of people processes and things – whereas machine-to-machine connections will make up the remaining 45 per cent.

In order to make sense of and protect this massive influx of data, mobile devices, and mobile apps, IT departments must deploy scalable, cloud-based mobile device management solutions and security solutions that enable automated detection and self-healing capabilities. With an Internet that’s increasingly unable to meet these demands, IT departments must monitor the results of technology labs developing new Internet architectures.

With the Internet of Everything presenting a $19 trillion global opportunity by 2020, we are entering the era of the “Application Economy,” in which the focus will no longer be simply on the hardware, but on supporting a larger number of applications on connected devices.

Exciting times lie ahead. I’m confident that businesses across the Middle East have the ambition to make the most of these new technology trends.

Tarek Ghoul is general manager of Gulf, Levant, and Pakistan at Cisco, the worldwide leader in IT.


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