Five years from now, our daily lives will look un­recog­nis­able. Cisco Qatar's Gen­eral Man­ager tells Qatar To­day just how per­va­sive and ir­re­versible this change, that is com­ing fast, is go­ing to be.

Qatar Today - - INSIDE THIS ISSUE -

Five years from now, our daily lives will look un­recog­nis­able. Cisco Qatar's Gen­eral Man­ager tells Qatar To­day just how per­va­sive and ir­re­versible this change, that is com­ing fast, is go­ing to be.

It is no se­cret that the pace of tech­no­log­i­cal change is in­creas­ing ex­po­nen­tially. In this cur­rent stage of the con­tin­u­ally tele­scop­ing speed of evo­lu­tion, change is fright­en­ingly and ex­cit­ingly im­mi­nent. We know, in our hearts and minds, that noth­ing will ever be the same again; and yet the pos­si­bil­i­ties of to­mor­row just keep sur­pris­ing us ev­ery sin­gle time. While we have been hear­ing mur­murs for a while about the brave, new con­nected world we are all head­ing to­wards – fridges talk­ing to shop­ping carts and cars link­ing up with ther­mostats at home – we are start­ing to see the first signs of its re­al­i­sa­tion, some right here in Doha.

Cisco is one of the voices that has been fer­vently talk­ing about the ‘In­ter­net of Ev­ery­thing' (IoE) for some time now – all the while con­tin­u­ing to work on “adding more in­tel­li­gence and ca­pa­bil­i­ties to the net­work and merg­ing its dif­fer­ent lay­ers to support bil­lions of de­vices and all their ap­pli­ca­tions”, ac­cord­ing to Mo­hammed Ham­moudi, Gen­eral Man­ager of Cisco Qatar. Now it's start­ing to shout from the rooftops, vy­ing for that global lead­er­ship in IoE that will give it the abil­ity to in­flu­ence and im­pact from the front. The re­cently an­nounced Cisco Con­nect in Doha is only the lat­est such ef­fort.

Sched­uled for Novem­ber 18, this edi­tion (un­like the last one in 2012) will fo­cus ex­ten­sively on the pos­si­bil­i­ties around IoE. “This year a lot of in­ter­est has been gen­er­ated and we'll be talk­ing about the so­lu­tions that have been im­ple­mented in other parts of the world and the var­i­ous on­go­ing pi­lot projects,” says Ham­moudi. “It's an op­por­tune time to start push­ing for it and cre­ate and en­hance aware­ness of its po­ten­tial. We hope that this will help peo­ple here in Doha think dif­fer­ently and make them more con­fi­dent about the pos­si­bil­i­ties of the fu­ture.”

“What we have now are the build­ing blocks of this new con­cept where you are con­nect­ing peo­ple, re­sources, pro­cesses and im­ple­ment­ing tech­nol­ogy in in­no­va­tive ways,” he con­tin­ues, say­ing that in this un­char­tered ter­ri­tory, all the pre­vi­ously known or ac­cepted stan­dards of op­er­a­tions, re­quire­ments and cases will have to change. “Ear­lier it was the IT pro­fes­sion­als who were set­ting the lim­its on tech­nol­ogy; now, with the ‘democrati­sa­tion' of tech­nol­ogy, it's the users who are cre­at­ing de­mand and set­ting re­quire­ments, open­ing up the abil­ity of peo­ple to in­no­vate,” he says.

Cisco is not just talk­ing pos­si­bil­i­ties; it has cold, hard num­bers to back it up. The pre­dic­tion of 50 bil­lion de­vices and $19 tril­lion of added rev­enue by 2020 is stag­ger­ing. Is it re­ally go­ing to be that fast? Where is the alarm clock that or­ders your cof­fee maker

to start brew­ing your first cup of java five min­utes be­fore it wakes you up? Ham­moudi says it's just a mat­ter of time. “The cy­cle be­tween the an­nounc­ing of new prod­ucts and their adop­tion is shrink­ing. Once peo­ple lock on to some­thing, the pro­lif­er­a­tion will be­come faster. The ac­cel­er­a­tion starts hap­pen­ing after a cer­tain thresh­old. Th­ese pro­jec­tions have been done by com­pa­nies that look at mar­ket trends and tech­nol­ogy adop­tion and us­age sce­nar­ios,” Ham­moudi points out, while telling us why it's not as un­be­liev­able as it seems.

But there's a lot of work to be done yet. In ad­di­tion to the evo­lu­tion of net­work ca­pa­bil­ity and pro­cess­ing power, who/what pro­vides con­tent and how it is treated will also need to change. “For ex­am­ple, say you have an app that gives you traf­fic up­dates. Where does this in­for­ma­tion come from? The traf­fic depart­ment? Or a company that uses live satel­lite feeds? Or from thou­sands of in­di­vid­u­als driv­ers send­ing pic­tures and co­or­di­nates of where they are, with an in­tel­li­gent net­work ag­gre­gat­ing th­ese in­puts and cre­at­ing a map of the traf­fic sit­u­a­tion at the mo­ment in time that is avail­able on your phone?” Ham­moudi ex­plains. But are we where we should be is a dif­fi­cult ques­tion to an­swer.

Be­cause of Qatar's size, pop­u­la­tion, net­work readi­ness and vi­sion, it could po­ten­tially be a leader of this trans­for­ma­tion on a global level. Be it in smart ci­ties, health­care, re­tail or gov­ern­ment ser­vices, we are al­ready start­ing to see what to­mor­row will look like, right here in Doha. It is no co­in­ci­dence that Cisco counts Sidra Med­i­cal Cen­tre and Ha­mad Hos­pi­tal among its im­por­tant clients; be­cause the most ex­cit­ing po­ten­tial of IoE are the “ap­pli­ca­tions that im­pact the qual­ity of hu­man life around health”. “This will im­pact our abil­ity to com­mu­ni­cate and share in­for­ma­tion among stake­hold­ers in a more im­pact­ful way,” he says, giv­ing a peek into the pos­si­bil­i­ties. “Say your doc­tor who rec­om­mends a blood test. You go to the lab but when the test is done, you don't have to go pick up the re­sults. It can go di­rectly to the doc­tor who can then email you the pre­scrip­tion you need (di­rectly sent to the phar­ma­cist who can fill it for you) or au­to­mat­i­cally make a follow-up ap­point­ment. Imag­ine how much time you'll have saved on traf­fic and the wait at the clin­ics and labs.” In the not-so-dis­tant fu­ture, your phone will be able to track your vi­tal stats and alert you to, say, an in­crease in your blood sugar lev­els or ir­reg­u­lar heart­beat, and thereby give physi­cians a wealth of in­for­ma­tion recorded over time re­sult­ing in bet­ter di­ag­no­sis. “Telep­res­ence so­lu­tions are al­ready be­ing used to bring spe­cial­ist ad­vice to peo­ple liv­ing in re­mote ar­eas. There is a lot of work be­ing done in the health­care sec­tor in Qatar and peo­ple are very keen to im­ple­ment th­ese so­lu­tions,” he says. At Ha­mad In­ter­na­tional Air­port, which is among Cisco's cus­tomers, IoE can be used on a va­ri­ety of ap­pli­ca­tions like med­i­cal recog­ni­tion, which will be­come in­creas­ingly im­por­tant to stop the spread of dis­eases, con­sid­er­ing the rise of Doha as a ma­jor trans­port hub.

Cisco is also work­ing with Qatar Na­tional Con­ven­tion Cen­tre on a so­lu­tion that can help at­ten­dees pr­ereg­is­tered for a con­fer­ence with their sched­ul­ing and, once they are on the premises, guide them in real time to the right lo­ca­tion, giv­ing them all the in­for­ma­tion they need in the process. Some of the newer malls com­ing up have tie-ups with Cisco to help track cus­tomer be­hav­iour. “With the use of an in­tel­li­gent net­work, in­for­ma­tion can be gath­ered (with full con­sent, of course) about which shops you visit more, where you spend the most time, or what prod­ucts you are in­ter­ested in, so as to un­der­stand the be­havioural pat­terns to cre­ate spe­cific pro­grammes or dis­plays.” And it's cheap to im­ple­ment too, he says. “It's just a mat­ter of us­ing the ex­ist­ing wifi net­work with some ex­tra ca­pa­bil­ity which will en­able you to do this kind of anal­y­sis on peo­ple who con­nect to that net­work. It doesn't cost much and that's the di­rec­tion the world is mov­ing to­wards,” he says.

In the sports in­dus­try, IoE has the po­ten­tial to change the game for play­ers and spec­ta­tors, es­pe­cially around the view­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. “You can mon­i­tor the health of the play­ers in real time. Change the face of ad­ver­tis­ing and anal­y­sis. Re­duce the load on the tele­com net­works with in­tel­li­gent lo­cal net­works that can support com­mu­ni­ca­tions that stem from 50,000 peo­ple simultaneously shar­ing pho­tos, videos and other in­for­ma­tion. Maybe even have a hot­dog de­liv­ered to your seat, who knows,” Ham­moudi says.

Who knows, in­deed! But this year par­tic­u­larly has seen a dra­matic in­crease in the chat­ter around IoE. What was pre­vi­ously be­ing spo­ken about on ob­scure tech blogs is now be­ing brought to the no­tice of in­dus­try lead­ers, CTOs, gov­ern­ments and the gen­eral pub­lic. Con­sumer Elec­tron­ics Show, Mo­bile World Congress, South by South West In­ter­ac­tive... ev­ery­where we go, the con­cept fol­lows us, star­ing us in the face, prod­ding us to recog­nise the fact that the fu­ture is here, right now

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