Before we go ahead to talk about the specifics of what we want to do, let us summarise some of the key trends that we have been observing in recent times.
- In communications, there is a lot of talk and action on the 802.11 front. Using open spectrum (2.4 Ghz and the Wi-Fi protocols), it is now possible to build a “viral telecommunications network” comprising of neighbourbood area networks (NANs). This grassroots architecture, using wireless mesh routing, would resemble the network. It would provide a ubiquitous envelop of connectivity. With directional antennae, the 802.11b protocol can be extended to work for 40 kms which can link up rural areas.
- In software, the hot area is Web Services: using protocols like XML and SOAP to create software components which can find and use each other across the network. This is the base on which we can get others to build software to pre-defined specifications like interchangeable components. XML also works as the foundation for exchange of information.
- On the Web front, a couple of changes are happening in the way information is getting published and distributed. Driven by the popularity of weblogs, the web is becoming more of a writing medium. Weblogs are making it easy to publish content and opinions by individuals. RSS Newsfeeds aggregate published content and provide it on the desktop. This makes for the creation of people as filters – people as producers and consumers of news and information.
- In hardware, there is a huge upgrade cycle expected in the next 2-3 years in countries like the US. An estimated 40 million PCs in corporates are likely to be upgraded in the US alone. These were bought in the 1999-2000 time period. This can provide a base for an alternate low-cost computing platform.
- On the business standards front also, there has been some interesting work with definitions like ebXML and RosettaNet likely to make the exchange of information between companies easier. The shift is to a “real-time economy”, an event-driven economy.
- The notion of technology of utility has been taking shape as companies like IBM accelerate the push towards grid computing and offering it on a pay-as-you-go subscription basis. This is part of the broader shift to computing services.
By themselves, these ideas are very important but perhaps, evolutionary. Taken together, these trends portend a revolution, creating opportunities for a very different tomorrow. A tomorrow where the bottom of the enterprise can be empowered to take on the bigger enterprises, where knowledge becomes a differentiator and business accelerator, where small entities can come together to create something remarkable which is much more powerful than anything else.