|Seamless networks, seamless business and a seamless world
|Vice President and Business Head, Professional Services
Deepak Jain is the Vice-President and Business Head of Professional Services at Wipro Infotech. Prior to this Mr Jain headed the Telecom vertical in Wipro Infotech for the India, APAC and ME region. He previously served Wipro in a variety of executive posts. Mr Jain joined Wipro as an Assistant Field Engineer. Prior to his tenure at Wipro Infotech, he had a small stint at Raba Contel (P) Ltd. Deepak Jain holds a Bachelor’s degree in Engineering (Electronics and Communication) from Delhi College of Engineering.
Access to information and technology has created a new economy, built businesses in Asia, and provided vast employment opportunities. The rapid growth of India’s economy helped spread the concept of seamless communications to share resources and connect to the world. Seamless networks are a very cost effective educational tool; they make virtual classrooms and distance education possible. Bringing seamless connectivity to India’s villages will shift business process outsourcing jobs to India’s rural interior so residents can share in India’s economic miracle.
“We live in an interdependent world.” – David Krieger The world we live in is shrinking digitally faster than we had imagined. The breathtaking pace at which seamless information traffic is flying has created a borderless world and our lives will never be the same. Some call it the ‘death of distances’. Some talk of the ‘breaking down of barriers and borders’. I would say all knowledge is interconnected. Not long ago, Mr Yeo Cheow Tong, Singapore’s Communications and IT Minister, said that to create a `Silicon Valley of the East’ in Asia, Asian nations should create an enabling environment, including visa-free travel within the region for IT professionals. I consider this as a beginning for a seamless world, although only at a pan-Asian level. According to him, the wired and e-ready cities in the region, for example, can jointly form a shared cyber mart to attract IT companies by building common secure infrastructure, e-biz standards and norms on e-transactions. The spread of technology has already made the New Economy business take root in Asia by providing vast employment opportunities. Just as seamless networking was unheard of in China not long ago, India too faced the same situation. In the early stage, some institutions and enterprises deployed seamless networks on a selective basis. As the Indian economy grew rapidly, the concept of seamless networks emerged as the need for better sharing of existing resources spread. Today, IT industry and network operators are collaborating to provide users with greater access, security and interoperability. Multinational companies setting up bases in India further spearheaded this seamless growth. They needed seamless networks to connect to their global branches and establish interoperable data communication channels between India and the world. Likewise, Indian companies who have global operations are focusing now on inter-connectivity issues. Today, residential complexes emerging across India equip themselves with WiFi networks using mesh architecture to ensure a network with seamless connectivity. They offer residents free broadband Internet access via WiFi enabled devices such as notebooks anywhere within the complex. Building seamless networks for a developing country like India is also a very cost effective means of knowledge construction and sharing. Several good examples are available of how Indian enterprises are transforming the economy and society with cost effective seamless technology. Wireless LANs are widely used in a number of vertical markets like the healthcare, retail, manufacturing, warehousing, and academia. Telecom revolution India, which adopted a gradual approach to telecom sector reform, today has the fastest growing telecoms market in the world. As the telecom sector is one of the key contributors in India’s phenomenal growth of over eight per cent per annum, there is growing concern to reduce the digital divide and provide extensive connectivity to unconnected areas. This is because, despite record growth, only 23 per cent of the population owns a phone. India still faces some glitches with high-speed broadband availability as well. On the other hand, with nearly 100 per cent growth in mobile subscribers, India has become the second largest wireless network in the world. India has surpassed the US, with the addition of 10.16 million wireless subscribers at the end of March 2008, and has the second largest wireless network in the world after China. Now there is a race to merge disparate networks, originally built and operated separately, without interoperability, for lack of resources. Better seamless networks at manageable costs remains the immediate goal of most enterprises and institutions. Virtual classrooms Seamless management of technologies is becoming more visible in classrooms and education is becoming a lifetime investment for Indians. To get the most out of their existing IT investment, premier academic institutions are now working towards offering a seamless experience to students across all classrooms, administrative office, hostels, faculty residences, lawns, student community centre and auditoriums. Such seamless integration of technologies plays a big role in distance education. It has virtually brought the classroom to the homes of a large number of students. Top line institutions have made use of the interoperability of technologies over different geographical locations for video conferencing, video tele-teaching, and Web casting. People pursuing higher education now turn to these virtual classrooms to upgrade their skills. By incorporating live video, audio and data, this distance learning methodology has become a highly interactive tool for imparting education. It even allows for spontaneous interactions with the teachers almost like in a regular classroom. India’s well known IITs (Indian Institutes of Technology) and IIMs (Indian Institutes of Management) have already adopted such advanced broadband satellite based distance education and training services for its students. IIT Bombay’s Postgraduate Distance Engineering Education Programs (DEEP) in IT and Management course has combined different technologies to simulate a virtual classroom environment for students. The DEEP courses used satellite technology to relay their classes to students. The EDUSAT satellite transmits the course lectures. The lectures are live video broadcast sessions, not just pre-recorded sessions, making it more interactive and interesting. Verticals and seamless networks As the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society’s (HIMSS) annual conference in New Orleans in February 2007 declared, healthcare industry standards are beginning to make interoperability a reality today. Back home, hospitals are already working at creating interoperable products as a means to reduce future investments. Many of India’s emerging corporate hospitals can compete in technology adoption with their counterparts elsewhere. They are always evaluating and improving their IT systems to build the best IT infrastructure possible. While major hospitals evaluate proprietary operating systems, mid-level hospitals prefer to build their IT structures around open standard applications to resolve hardware-software compatibility issues and reduce downtime. Such seamless innovation helps them retrieve patient data without losing time. Seamless networks resources To counter high bandwidth costs, enterprises have opted for WAN (wide area network) optimization and acceleration. Consultation on this has become a big business in India. According to a survey conducted by Sage Research, “About half report that they (companies) are seeking technologies to accelerate file sharing or other applications on the WAN. Additionally, half are pursuing technologies to improve how geographically dispersed employees collaborate.” On the other hand, software interoperability has become a pressing issue with major software vendors, as enterprises across developing nations like India look at reduced investment. Replacing existing technologies is out of the question for many. The IT industry is now experimenting with more open standard and future applications as the initial costs of proprietary applications are beyond the reach of many. At the same time, quality of interoperability and service are important too. For India to embrace e-business fully, the industry must combine disparate sources of data into an integrated, seamless, business process. The steady rate at which e-commerce is growing shows the country is ready for a big leap soon. A flurry of activities is currently transforming enterprises’ core business processes, building e-business applications and the like. Seamless vision for India Bringing technology to the villages will be the next phase in the development of a seamless India. If seamless networks offer the same connectivity in villages as in cities, it means the shifting of sunrise industries like BPO (business process outsourcing) to far off areas will follow. The government has already launched steps to enable rural India to offer IT-enabled (ITES) and BPO services. With cheaper bandwidth and higher tele-density, the booming Indian ITES-BPO sector can look at villages across the country as the next places to launch their services and access manpower. As John Chambers, Cisco’s Chairman and CEO, said, India is more vibrant and adventurous in its pursuit of excellence than ever before. India’s best and brightest have a unique opportunity to compete on a global basis, thanks to the speed at which technology is opening up. The network has become a strategic business tool that enables the developing world to compete on a global scale. Though IT spending among Indian companies remains low compared with the developed world, intelligent use of the network to achieve maximum seamless business environment enables them to remain competitive. My vision is to see every home, school, and office in India wired for seamless connectivity. No matter what one’s social and economic status, everyone should be able to seamlessly communicate with each other and access the right information anytime anywhere. The Information Age is a golden opportunity for all of us; we should be able to reap its fruits without worrying over the choice or cost of technology.