TECH TALK: Best of Future Tech: Part 5

Search was the subject of two columns in October (6 and 20). Search has become a window to the world wide web of data. Todays search is simplistic: type a few words in a box, get back zillions of results, and click on one or more of the results to see if we get what we are looking for. Think of todays search as the DOS era: a good start, but not enough to unleash the real power of what can be. It took a decade to go from DOS to Windows. It has taken us almost as long to start imagining and working towards the next generation of search technologies. The key ideas which will help define tomorrows search are: integration between desktop and Internet search, better visualisation and navigation tools, real-time search, searchstreams analysis, multimedia Search, search on mobile devices, and local and vertical search. I concluded by asking: The state of Search is very much like the way the scientific world was in the seventeenth century until Issac Newton came along and helped lay the foundation for the world ahead with his theories and inventions. A similar revolution is needed in the world of Search. Can we in India play a role, just as we did in some of the mathematical discoveries many centuries ago?

The November 17 column discussed service-based computing and how it could pose a potential challenge to Microsoft. As we peer into the crystal ball of tomorrow, the future starts becoming apparent: a variety of devices accessing centralised service-driven platforms. Think of the backend as a grid providing computing as a utility. The devices are thin devices delivering virtual desktops and encompassing not just the web browser, but also a capability to deliver rich client applications and rich media. This is a world that will be created first among the next users of computing in emerging markets like India.

2004 saw the mobile phones in India exceed the landline user base, and march towards the 50 million mark. The December 1 column asked what the computing industry could learn from the success of the wireless providers. There are two key ideas from cellphones that computers need to adopt. The first is the creation of a zero-management user device, and the second is that of a subscription-based utility-like payment model. The underlying enabler for both will in fact be the broadband industry that is coming alive in India What India needs is a leapfrog to next-generation networks that can deliver broadband over the air to users creating a high-speed ubiquitous and pervasive data network. This can then enable deployment of network computers like cellphones connected to a centralised grid of servers which provide the compelling services that users need and are willing to pay for. In fact, given the digitisation that is happening in both voice and television, the network computer could in future be the converged device capable of providing a hybrid set of services to users.

The last three columns (December 15 and December 29 and January 12, 2005) in the Future Tech series discussed cold technologies, defined as those that have neutral revenue or even anti revenue attributes. Their importance stems from the fact that even as they shrink the investment that users have to make, they help them catch-up or even leapfrog to a world that is faster, better, cheaper in terms of the digital infrastructure that we need to build out in India. The cold technologies discussed: open-source software, software as a service, voice-over-IP, Wi-Fi, network computers, the China Supply Chain and India Services, file-sharing networks and online advertising.

So, hope youve enjoyed this journey so far. Buckle up theres lots more to come! The ride has just begun.

TECH TALK Best of Future Tech+T

Published by

Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.