Thursday, 18 July, 2024
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OPINION

IT Advancement & Opportunities



Shashi Dhungel

 


Innovations in the last five decades have happened at a much faster rate than any comparable period in history. The developments in information technology and computing since the early part of this century are even more pronounced. As the internet became an integral part of our daily lives it brought opportunities and challenges of varying scope and magnitude. Information technology adoption in healthcare, education, banking, agriculture, manufacturing, environment and entertainment, to name a few, has changed our societies in unprecedented ways. 
Big Data, algorithms, Artificial Intelligence (AI), automation, robotics, and the Internet of Things (IoT) have become vernaculars today. Economists argue that the rapid advancement in the use of information technologies has to do with its rapid decline in costs. In 1956, when IBM came out with its first commercial magnetic hard drive storage it cost more than USD 30 thousand and stored 5 MB of data. Today, Google provides 1,000 times more storage capacity for free. Yes, there are sometimes free lunches!
As the cost of technology dropped precipitously it became affordable to a wider variety of user groups. Today, data powered technologies like AI are used by pharmacy giants to develop medicines, big banks use them to prevent money laundering and risk management, doctors use them for cancer diagnosis and treatment, national parks use them to stop poachers and wildfires, and artists use them to create art and make music. Machine learning, AI, IoT, and algorithms propel voice-based personal assistants like Siri and Alexa and self-driving fleets in the air and on the ground. AI predictions are used in mining, logistics, and national defense. They are ubiquitous, but are still at an early stage of development in many disciplines. 
The rapid advancement in how we collect, store, and process data have contributed to the building of underlying and fundamental technology behind powerful prediction machines. According to a report published by IBM in 2017 we were creating 2.5 exabytes of data on a daily basis with 90 per cent of the data being collected in the preceding two years. The volume, velocity and variety (3Vs) at which data is generated today is mind boggling. 
Thanks to Moore’s law - the development in microchip technologies allowed us to shift from specialised computers to commodity hardware for computations. Breakthroughs in cloud technologies gave a new way to embed software and hardware in our social and professional lives. Platform as a Service (PaaS), Software as a Service (SaaS), and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) have allowed startups and Fortune 500s to innovate new products and services at a faster rate with agility. Today, service providers can prototype, test, and implement data based solutions in their workflows without needing to sink a huge capital upfront. There is no need to buy hardware and software, they can be rented or can be used on a pay-as-you-go basis. 
The quick adoption of technology has had a multiplier effect in our societies. It shaped our lives, affecting how we live, work, and entertain ourselves. From voice-powered applications to search engines and recommendation engines, smart devices that track our fitness to pay mortgages and taxes, we are constantly using data powered prediction machines in our daily activities. 
Some of the biggest businesses of modern times like Google, Baidu, Facebook, Netflix, Amazon, Uber, and WeChat are all built on information and data based technologies. The low cost of building, testing, and deploying data based business solutions, applications as micro services, agile product development, application programming interface (API), and the open source revolution has helped the information technology sector to play a big role in national security and economic growth. The 3Vs of data we collect and process today has created new markets and businesses. As more and more people get connected with ever increasing numbers of connected devices our dependencies in technology will continue to grow. 5G is around the corner and it will bring a new ecosystem to operate IoT devices.
For countries like Nepal these kinds of technologies offer unique opportunities. Our small country with diverse terrain and culture, is in a position to be both beneficiary and benefactor of these technologies. The adoption of bleeding-edge technologies can measurably improve people’s lives who have been affected by both the long standing and emerging socio-economic challenges in Nepal. These technologies are open source and businesses and governments are encouraged to use them to solve their problems and be responsible in using them. The establishment of the National Innovation Center is a giant leap for our small country. Nepal has the workforce capacity and now the tech and information availability to surge forward as a significant player in the Information Technology sector. 

(Mr. Dhungel is a data scientist with a decade of experience in designing data and analytics solutions. He is Chief Executive Officer at www.esrtech.io and can be reached at shashi@esrtech.io)