If one were to single out a news item that caught everyone’s attention in June, it was certainly Facebook Inc.’s decision to launch its Libra digital currency atop the Libra blockchain, in the first half of the next calendar year. Despite Facebook having a massive captive user base, Libra has its own set of challenges, primarily revolving around trust, security and privacy of data given its past record.
While it’s premature to predict the fate of Libra, the development augurs well for the blockchain ecosystem that is being backed by practically every big technology company. Besides, regardless of whether a blockchain is permissioned (private) or permissionless (public), there’s definite value in easing, and lowering the costs of, digital transactions for users if trust and transparency can be established—a trait that every blockchain promises.
Other than blockchains, the conversations around the cloud, data analytics, Internet of Things (IoT), 3D printing, cybersecurity and, of course, artificial intelligence (AI) are getting more mature. This is clearly demonstrated in the articles you will find in this edition of the Digital Dossier.
While our lead story talks about how AI and IoT are making Edge computing the new buzzword, we have other stories that talk about the reasons that are holding back the adoption of 3D printing in India; why we believe that supply chain partners are the weak links for hackers; how a new wave of “pay later services" are growing that allow users to avail services now and pay later; and a complete section devoted to enterprise startups, which we believe have the potential to become unicorns.
If that does not slake your thirst for good enterprise stories, we have columns from consultants and CXOs who share their opinions on the trends they believe will define the next steps for digital transformation. The columns touch on cutting-edge topics like Bot auditing, Future of voice AI, Evolution of technology in e-sports industry, Rise of the Edge and data centres of tomorrow, Edge computing, and the Use of AI for hiring to name a few.
Reverting to the topic of Libra again, one cannot ignore the transformation of the financial sector due to technological advancements—a trend better known as fintech. In this context, Capgemini’s World Fintech Report 2019 makes very insightful remarks. Effectively, even as the financial sector is trying to wrap its head around the potential of Open banking, the Capgemini report suggests that Open banking will “eventually transition into an Open X phase (thriving on the huge amounts of data generated) in which standardized APIs, insights from customer data, and effective collaboration prevail". The report insists that Open X “is likely to alter the financial services business spectrum", and advises banks to choose the right partners and talent to thrive in the new ecosystem.
That said, during the Mint Fintech Summit in June, participants did not refer to the term Open X. In fact, some were even averse to the term fintech. They have a point. To be a successful business person in today’s world, one first needs to understand consumer needs. All the above technologies can only help you in the task. This simply means that using AI, blockchain or any other emerging technology, without having a business problem to solve, will be akin to putting the cart before the horse.
Leslie D’Monte is national technology editor.