According to a Cisco Tech Radar Report 2014 report, data will play a key role in technology going forward. But while people may assume that data will be driven by personal communications, the report highlights that machine communication will play an increasing role.
"IT organisations need to prepare for the Internet of Everything (IoE), and what we are now seeing is the emergence of an Application Economy where the focus will no longer be simply on the hardware, but also on supporting a larger number of applications on all connected devices," said Alpheus Mangale, Managing Director for Cisco in South Africa.
SA is not immune from international trends despite the lack of mobile spectrum to roll out true fourth generation broadband, and it is expected that the country will follow developments, even if the pace is muted.
Here are the top trends identified from the Tech Radar Report in SA:
As data traffic grows, so will the need for security. Cisco also reports that the Middle East and Africa is set to post the world’s strongest mobile data traffic growth for at 77%.
In SA, Minister of Communications Yunus Carrim has gone on the record to indicate his determination to drive 100% broadband in SA by 2020 in accordance with the National Development Plan.
"Government has prioritised broadband as the essential underpinning of economic and social activity. In fact, the implementation of this policy needs to take the form of a national project that we are calling South Africa Connect," said Carrim at the South Africa Connect: Creating Opportunities, Ensuring Inclusion workshop in late 2013.
As data traffic increases and even as people use devices in new ways, security is critical to ensure that criminals do not compromise personal information which could break the trust that users have in internet infrastructure.
Machine to machine communication
The main driver of data is expected to be machine to machine (M2M) communications. As data costs come down, more services like home and vehicle security for example, could find new expressions on the internet.
Cisco highlighted the smart world concept as a driver of M2M communication and how it could be used as a better tool to drive smarter cities.
"Another key observation from the report states that, in the Application Economy, practically everything - roads, jet-engine parts, shoes, refrigerators, soil, and supermarket shelves - will have cheap, tiny sensors that generate terabytes of data that can be sifted for key insights."
Transformed home and workplace
Following the idea of M2M and person to machine communications, homes and workplaces will be transformed by the technology, resulting in more efficiency and productivity.
Higher bandwidth will, according to Cisco, shift the browser to centre stage as a platform for online collaboration.
"One major benefit of new internet architectures is browser-based video and collaboration, which can enhance employee productivity by integrating audio-visual conferences, text notepads, and whiteboards into a real-time web-based multimedia space," the company said.
While today apps have emerged as a strong growth area, the "walled garden" nature of the application ecosystem may gave way to the browser, especially if the browser functionality is expanded to natively include new high speed multimedia technologies.
Natural communication between people is visual and one of the key drivers in internet data has been video.
A Cisco Visual Networking Index (VNI) Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast Update found that global internet traffic increased by 81% in 2013, making it 18 times the size of the entire internet in 2000.
A key driver was video which made up 53% of all web traffic in 2013.
"Video Mega Trends will similarly transform digital imaging, with ultra HD video, enhancing the viewing experience on televisions, smartphones, augmented reality glasses, tablets, and camera-equipped devices," said Cisco.
"Big Data is 'the new oil' and needs to be analysed at a rate that matches the speed at which information enters the data warehouse.
"For example, to improve agriculture efficiencies through better decisions based on sensors monitoring weather conditions and soil conditions, fleet management and crop conditions," said Cisco.
As both people and machines generate data, the size of the internet is expected to expand, surpassing 15 exabytes per month by 2018. At the end of 2013, the size of the internet was 1.5 exabytes per month, up from 820 petabytes per month in 2012.
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