Five tech trends to watch in 2013

We all know that Big Data and Cloud is on the rise, but what else is on the horizon? Here are some trends that haven't been getting much attention but may end up having a significant impact in 2013.

In the APAC region at least, 2012 proved once again to be the year of the cloud as predictions from media, analysts and industry insiders proved correct: the adoption of cloud services picked up significantly, and on-the-ball organisations were only too keen to offer services in this relatively new market – Dropbox, Google and Apple, to name a few.

Big Data gave it a run for its money however – no more was this more evident than with the Large Hadron Collider, only the biggest and most important example of Big Data being put to work.

According to the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN), which is running the project, the LHC will produce around 15 million gigabytes of data annually – or enough data to fill more than 1.7 million dual layer DVDs per year. It’s the analysis of this data that has led researchers to the apparent discovery of the Higgs Boson, or “God” particle: an invisible particle that is believed to give everything in the universe its mass.

It was quite a year for cloud and big data, to say the least.

But what does 2013 hold? Is the forecast for more cloud, or does the big data analysis suggest something else on the horizon? For the Australian and New Zealand markets at least, here is what we believe will be the key talking points for the New Year.

1. OTT on the up and up                       

Traditional telcos have struggled to come up with competitive alternatives to Over-The-Top  (OTT) providers in 2012, and 2013 will bring more concerns to telcos unless they revisit their business models or seek alternative approaches with up-and-coming OTT providers.

According to Budde, "telcos will remain in the access space and will offer wholesale services to the OTT and Apps providers as well as to an increasingly growing number of companies and sectors that are relying on the digital economy. Services here include data centres, cloud computing, data storage, content delivery and other value added infrastructure services."

Herein lies the opportunity for telcos to consolidate their networks and invest in more intelligent infrastructure with easily scalable bandwidth capacity to accommodate the expected surge in user demand for OTT services. Telcos will take back control by increasing the intelligence in their networks to create differentiation and value – simplification, automation, predictive and bandwidth controls to deliver on the customer experience.

2. National broadband networks will dominate the Australasian service provider market

Australia's National Broadband Network (NBN) will become the predominant infrastructure in the country, and as a utilities-based network it will also provide its services to other sectors, such as healthcare, education and business.

Of course Australia is not the first country in the APAC region to deploy a national broadband network. Broadband connectivity remains important for consumers, so the opportunities for business are plentiful. But broadband is more than just about enabling people-attached devices or machine to machine, but also about creating new business models.

According to leading Australian telecommunications analyst Paul Budde, with these sectors involved "we will see the industry developing specific new business models around infrastructure, ICT and retail. IPTV and other media and entertainment applications will also start to play a more important role." 

The question remains how successful the telcos will be in the retail space. New Zealand's rural broadband infrastructure will also make advances in the coming year, although its impact (and scope) will be less than that of the NBN.

3. Mobile Payments

This was predicted as one of the major services to take the world by storm in 2012, but with Apple declining to include Near Field Communications (NFC) in the iPhone 5, organisations have so far been slow to adopt mobile payments. Despite the roaring success of the Samsung Galaxy SIII (with NFC technology) globally, the future of mobile payments will still depend on whether the Cupertino company chooses to adopt it. 

Well, we believe 2013 is the year Apple will bow to consumer pressure and include an NFC chip in its next-gen iPhone. This will lead to large scale adoption of mobile payments as companies fall over each other to come up with the biggest and best mobile payment apps, and with this mass-adoption will come a significant impact to mobile backhaul.

4. Cloud 2.0 – the evolution beyond SaaS

Cloud is not merely a buzzword: it is here to stay as the end-user cost and operational benefits are numerous. In 2013 we predict we will see Cloud services for Infrastructure and Networks (Iaas, NaaS) grow faster and begin to close the gap with the more established services of Software as a Service (SaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS).

We are already seeing examples of this in the marketplace: for example, the largest public IaaS cloud company, Amazon Web Services (AWS), recently established a new Asia-Pacific region for their compute and storage services in Sydney, and AAPT joined the Amazon Direct Connect partnership to provide carrier-grade network connections to AWS data centres.

We predict that this announcement is merely the tip of the iceberg, with more providers offering IaaS and NaaS services in 2013. This will have a huge impact as the network will also need to be virtualised to enable a greater uptake of these platforms. From there, a whole new generation of Service Providers will be born, with very innovative services targeting specific communities-of-interest.

Watch this space.

5. The Modernisation of Government and Defense Networks

Across the APAC region and especially in Asia, there are very clear signs that governments and defense organisations are looking to upgrade their networks, using the latest broadband solutions and advances in cloud networking to optimise their infrastructure.

We’re seeing this trend pick up in multiple countries across various geographies in Asia and it is only a matter of time before other countries in the region follow suit.

Anthony McLachlan is the VP Ciena's Asia Pacific division.

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