TECH TALK: The Best of Tech Talk 2002: New Computing Paradigms

I started 2002 with a series on Emerging Technologies, Emerging Markets stating:

The computer remains the building block for technological change in every economy in the world. Everything else is built around it. It is therefore necessary to rethink its construction in terms of the components used to dramatically reduce the price-points at which it is made available in the emerging markets of the world. What is needed is not greater and faster, but lesser and cheaper.

Software is becoming the key driver in enterprises, in their push towards greater efficiencies. Even in the backdrop of the downturn in technology, one of the first areas which will recover is enterprise software. Enterprises have made investments in computing and communications, providing enough horsepower to their various departments and connecting all their branches and offices. However, information still sits in silos. What is needed is just-in-time information, aggregated from disparate databases and delivered to a corporate portal customised for each employee.

This is what I explored in more depth over the course of the year the objective being to take computing to the millions of small- and medium enterprise, who are rapidly emerging as computings next frontier:

Enterprise software has become much more complex, but the focus has stayed on the bigger companies in the world who can pay a lot of money. This is the real digital divide. Not only do the smaller companies (especially those in the emerging markets) find it hard to buy software, even the cost of the computers is prohibitive – all technology is dollar-denominated. In India, few local software companies have made a mark addressing the domestic market – the volumes are just not there, and its much more profitable to deploy the same resources for doing work for international companies.

And yet, there is an unseen, invisible opportunity that lies ahead, serving companies like mine. There are 25 million such small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the world, which employ over a billion people worldwide. The majority of these SMEs are in the emerging markets of world. They need a solution which costs no more than USD 15-20 per person per month (inclusive of hardware, software, training and support). This is a market of USD 180-240 billion which is largely untapped today.

The three key ideas here to provide a whole computing solution for USD 20 per month per user are:

  • Server-centric Computing: By using Linux thin clients and a thick server, the cost of computing can be brought down dramatically.

  • A New Desktop: Can we look beyond the files-folders-directory-icons interface of MS-Windows to build a Digital Dashboard which makes it easier for the next users to access information and applications?

  • Lego-like Enterprise Software: The combination of web services and business process standards now makes it possible for us to build components which can be assembled together.

    Tomorrow: Bridging the Digital Divide

    TECH TALK The Best of Tech Talk 2002+T

  • Published by

    Rajesh Jain

    An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.