In a session on cloud computing at the Barcelona conference on Tuesday (28 February) senior executives said the cloud was unleashing a new phase of technological development that would usher a ‘hyper-connected world’ and the so-called Internet of Things.
The Internet of Things describes a future in which every object and the minute details of people’s lives are tracked, enabling huge efficiencies of organisation and energy.
Speed of technological development in constant flux
As a result of the cloud, the telecommunications industry is moving with such speed that the business ‘reflection point’, which used to happen every seven years, is now over and companies must ‘reinvent constantly’, Cisco chairman and chief executive John Chambers told the conference.
“Cloud is front and centre of every service provider but also applications to other devices. Broadband and wireless brought in jobs but cloud takes it further. The connected world is a dinosaur, it’s now a hyper-connected world,” Chambers said.
This new model is posing serious cyber risks, for which the industry must take its share of responsibility and act, the panellists said.
“We are collectively not on top of the issue. It is bigger and more important than we give credit for. We are waiting for a problem to happen,” Ben Verwaayen, chief executive of Alcatel-Lucent, told delegates.
He said that if businesses have a problem with regulators, it's due to "our inability to get to the hearts of minds of the customer because the regulators reflect where the market thinks we are.”
Business should step in, or regulators will
René Obermann, chairman and chief executive of Deutsche Telekom, said that cyber security challenges were costing the industry $1 trillion a year and that this figure was growing and these were conservative estimates.
“Industry has to lead the politicians, and we have to sustain a high level of data protection," Obermann said. "I think it’s good and helps industry because we will have a massive problem if we do not have standards.”
Obermann said there had been major breakdowns in the networks as a result of cyber security problems in Asia, although they did not make headlines. Companies must make security “a design principle,” he said.
Cisco’s Chambers said there had been a perception in the industry that young people were carefree with giving their information on-line, but he warned this was changing fast.
He cited recent surveys showed that only 25% of young people in Europe and 28% in Asia are happy to commit information online without reservations.
“Companies must give consumers an ‘opt in’ to use on-line services, rather than ‘opt out’, the regulators will step in otherwise,” Chambers said.