Two columns in August 2004 (11 and 25) discussed the notion of the computing Kumbh Mela. Every twelve years or so, the world of computing sees major breakthroughs which transform the landscape. Think of this as the computing equivalent of the Kumbh Mela. The last major breakthrough was during 1992-94 when the launch of Microsoft Windows 3.1, Intels Pentium processor, SAPs R/3, and the web browser Mosaic heralded an unprecedented period of all-round growth until the slowdown in the early part of this decade. The next computing Kumbh Mela should be just around the corner. What will it be?
My answer: The next big thing in computing will be about building a platform which makes the two most important creations of the past the computer and the Internet available to the next users at a fraction of todays prices. What emerging markets like India need is the equivalent of a tech utility which makes available commPuting as a utility to the masses. A centralised platform that makes available computing as a service and accessible via thin clients over a high-speed broadband infrastructure, neighbourhood computing centres that provide access on a pay-per-use basis, a community-centric content platform which makes available local information and helps small businesses connect with each other, and investments in education and healthcare to make sure they reach rural people these are the elements of the tech utility.
The September 8 column discussed the characteristics of the New and Next Net — Always-on, Ubiquitous, High-speed, On-demand, Multi-format, Two-way, Personalised and Not Free. This New Internet will make possible path-breaking applications and services. From voice-over-IP which will allow phone calls anywhere in the country for a flat fee to video-on-demand which can provide education and entertainment to users when they want it, from software-as-a-service for businesses to automate all their processes to multi-player gaming platforms which will transform leisure time, the New Internet will create new opportunities as well as threaten conventional business models. It will force players in computing, entertainment, consumer electronics and entertainment to tread into each other’s territories.
Innovation in India was the subject of the September 22 column. India needs to build an ecosystem of innovation and entrepreneurship to build upon its success in services to occupy centrestage in the world of technology in the years to come First, we need entrepreneurs willing to take risk Second, we need early-stage venture capital and mentoring for the start-ups Third, entrepreneurs with the initial capital will need mentoring Fourth, we need talent willing to join start-ups Finally, there is a need to focus on the middle of the pyramid market.
Tomorrow: Part 5
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