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TECH TALK: Next Billion: The Road Ahead

September 19th, 2003 · No Comments

There are many other innovations which can be pooled together to create more useful technology solutions which can make life and business easier for the next billion users. Voice-over-IP reduces the cost of phone calls. The USD 50 thin client can double up as a gaming console, and link players into multi-player gaming networks. Smart Cards can provide identity, security and a form of micropayment. Tivo-like capabilities at the server can help users record their favourite TV programs and play them back at will. Ultrawideband and other wireless services can provide broadband to bandwidth-starved users.

The need is for a technology ecosystem to be constructed in the emerging markets. This is one in which computers (hardware and software), cellphones, connectivity, content, community and commerce come together simultaneously to create for a complete different world one in which opportunities abound. This is the new world that we can create. These are the new horizons which are opening up in front of us.

It is only innovative, out-of-the-box thinking which can make this possible. What we have seen so far over the past quarter century is computing and the Internets first revolution. It has seen the magic of microprocessors, software and networks come sequentially to impact lives for the top of the people and enterprise pyramid across the world. The time has now come to take the revolution to a market that is 10 times larger. This is market which will see many of these innovations come together simultaneously. What took a quarter century to accomplish now can be done in a fifth of the time. The next five years can see us take the benefits of computing to the next billion people.

What is needed is a re-invention of the computing industry built around the twin themes of affordability and utility. The objective is the same making technology a utility, and part of the fabric of people. This is technologys next frontier. It is a throwback to the 1970s this new world needs the likes of its own home-grown Bill Gates and Steve Jobs to take computing to the next level. Each of these disruptive innovations represents a business opportunity for smart entrepreneurs. In most cases, the components are there what is needed is a different lens through which to view the new, emerging base of users.

The road ahead will be constructed by entrepreneurs from the very markets that are being created. These entrepreneurs see the world around them and also understand the inexorable pace of progress in the world of technology. Just as the new breed of thirty-something film-makers in India is challenging the status quo creating products that were hard to imagine a few years ago, so will this class of entrepreneurs create the disruptive innovations which will take their people, markets and countries forward. The next billion computer users are waiting. Are we up to the challenge?

TECH TALK Next Billion+T

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