Posts Tagged ‘ICT’

2014: The Year of Digital Renaissance?

Tuesday, December 31st, 2013

Digi Renaissance firework 2013As fireworks fill the skies tonight and 2013 comes to a close, it seems a good time to reflect on the current state of the telecoms and ICT industries, and what has changed in the last five years. Having just participated in the 2013 ITU Telecom World Conference in Bangkok, this gave me the opportunity to assess whether the Digital Renaissance that we at KeySo Global have being predicting has in fact transpired.

In 2009 the world was reeling from 12 months of global financial turbulence and anxiety levels were high. WiMAX was causing angst for U.S. carriers and the iPhone was forcing the rethinking of how Wi-Fi and cellular could effectively inter-operate. Data congestion on overloaded 3G networks designed for voice was reaching critical levels as operators adjusted to the realities of YouTube video upload and downloads. The European markets and technology suppliers were firmly in control of the industry, with Nokia the dominant handset supplier controlling 38% of the 1.1 billion phones sold that year. Apple, on the other hand, was gaining credibility and achieved a respectable 2%. ICT was the main theme of the conference as cellular held center stage with 67% market penetration, having enabled 4.6 billion people globally to have access to personal communication capability. In 2009 the prime discussion, therefore, was around internet connection and the role that mobile could play here.

graphic oneFast forward to the 2013 conference in Asia and the global economy, having experienced five years of unprecedented instability, is still in a volatile state where virtually every treasured economic rulebook has been proven ineffective in controlling a 24/7 interconnected digital world. This has been facilitated in part due to cellular penetration reaching 96% and 6.8 billon people having access to cellular – 3.5 billion of whom are in the Asia Pacific region. More significantly, the number of people now online has increased from 26% to 39%. The single biggest contributor to this has been mobile broadband access which has grown from below 10% in 2009 to 30% penetration this year. This growth is closely tied to smartphone growth as well as the availability of lower cost data packages.  In 2009 smartphonesgraphic 2 accounted for approximately 10% of handset shipments, whereas in the 3rd quarter of 2013 smartphones totaled 250 million units, over 55% of total phone shipments that quarter. The biggest loser in this dramatic shift in emphasis towards smartphones and operating systems has been Nokia, but others such as Sony Ericsson, Kyocera, Sharp, Rim, HTC and Motorola have been damaged along the way, to greater or lesser degrees, by the shift to an Android world.

In conclusion, we are living in a far more connected world than we were five years ago. However, the extent to which the interconnection of this increasingly complex human digital and physical world is understood is limited and the ripple effects of these technologies on industry structures have only just started to appear. Telecoms and ICT are certainly not immune to these, as we have seen, but within the next five years we will see the boundary industries of automotive, medical, retail, utilities and manufacturing become increasingly subject to the transformative effects of the mobile internet.

Of greater interest will be the unanticipated consequences that will undoubtedly emerge from the mobile internet and Internet of Things blending with big data analytics, and the unavoidable impact this will have on digital life and behaviors. As an increasingly urbanized planet adopts these technologies to facilitate ever smarter cities, the opportunities for ICT to make a difference to societies are colossal – but the question is how to bring the people along with these changes, and instill trust in them that technology will be used for good and that ethical government will prevail? Clearly, the recent Snowden revelations on the NSA and other agencies have given everyone pause for thought.

As we enter 2014, it is clear that the Digital Renaissance is technically well underway but the structural and behavioral implications are only just beginning to emerge and, when they do surface, I suspect that the predominant challenges we face will be societal. In shaping the future of this brave new world we need to engage its citizens, understand their needs and manage the “Faustian bargain” that will be a fine balance between a surveillance state and the right to privacy. None of these challenges are unsurmountable but they are ones that will need careful monitoring, open conversations and perseverance on the part of governments, industry and citizens around the globe.

Steve Bell, President, KeySo Global

Digital World Perspectives from a Week in Chicago

Monday, October 31st, 2011

Chicago may not be the center of the digital world but it can be a great place to find new perspectives!

This week I attended 4G World 2011, a four-day conference and expo that brought together an ecosystem of high tech vendors to talk about LTE – the technology that delivers 4G service to 33 networks in 23 countries, including Verizon, AT&T and Metro PCS in the US. This year’s conference was dominated by presentations highlighting the phenomenal growth in video and data traffic which is driving significant investments in spectrum and network equipment to deliver blazing mobile speeds anywhere that consumers go.                        


There was a marked sense of industry optimism as the initial 4G deployments are delivering faster than the anticipated growth in consumer uptake, and technical and operational challenges related to the network and devices are being accommodated with the expectation of exponential growth over the next 4 to 5 years.


At 4G World, multiple tributes were made to the legacy left to the industry by Steve Job’s introduction of the iPhone. Ironically, his greatest legacy may not be the device itself but the tsunami of data that his devices unleashed on the mobile networks of the world. Data traffic via mobile networks has increased 4,500 times in the last 13 years and in the last 4 years iPhone users have driven video to over 50% of traffic; it is predicted by Nokia Siemens Networks that this traffic will increase 1,000 times by the year 2020. It was also recognized by the CTO of Clearwire that every prediction on data capacity has been underestimated. Steve Job’s legacy has resulted in the acceleration and major rethinking of the architectures that enable the transport of this data, including the offloading of data from cellular networks to Wi-Fi, the introduction of small cells and the acceleration of LTE technology.

Faith and Trust

This week I heard Gillian Tett,USmanaging editor of the Financial Times, speak at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs about the current crisis inEurope. She identified that faith and trust are at the core of economic, financial, social and political systems; that the European crisis is part of a broader global problem of blind faith in financial alchemy where the following pillars have been consistently eroded and have failed:

  • rating agencies
  • securitization
  • banks’ balance sheets
  • models of valuation
  • regulators
  • the ability of government to secure and protect the system

Resulting from this, Tett noted there has been a shift in market psychology, collapsing of time horizons, credit markets that lack credit and a lack of trust in cyber trading. She pointed out that once this trust is lost it is very difficult to restore it. To compound this, Tett believes that in a world of instant communications and social media a dangerous situation is occurring, that of an accelerating cycle of uncertainty around these global systems.


It was interesting to hear two very different perspectives of the future, especially since both are significantly intertwined. Over the last 30 years, the growth and convergence of the information, computing and telecommunications (ICT) industries have contributed to a seven times increase in global GDP and facilitated not only globalization but also the connection of almost half the planet to information and communications. ICT industries contribute more than 2% of the global GDP, with Apple last year gaining the title of most valuable company in the world.

Men of ideas and vision, such as Steve Jobs, coupled with technology and science have the ability to create significant changes to the world we live in and to the wealth that we enjoy. ICT industries, however, are causing fundamental structural shifts in the way that traditional industries, societies and even politics behave. The structural shifts can be traumatic for those affected, as witnessed not only by the “Occupy Wall Street” movement taking place globally but also by the apparent inability of political leaders to find the answers to the resulting economic, financial and social problems. Converged technologies and social media are now enabling the so called 99% to stay as informed as the 1% while at the same time providing the mechanism for the 1% to more effectively engage, interact and tap into the collective knowledge and expectations of the people.

Connecting the Dots

We can all choose what to believe. If we recognize that change is ongoing, even if we don’t understand the change, with hindsight and a little insight it’s possible to take an optimistic path which will help to establish and rebuild our faith and trust in the emerging system. As Steve Jobs said: “Believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart, even when it leads you off the well worn path, and that will make all the difference”. If politicians were to adopt this mindset, it might give them faith to tackle the global crisis and address the concern expressed by Jean-Claude Juncker, Prime Minister of Luxembourg and President of the Eurogroup: “We all know what to do, we just don’t know how to get re-elected after we’ve done it”.

At KeySo Global we are advisors and consultants about the impact of digital technology on society, business and individuals. Please contact us at, +1-847-478-1633 or visit our website

Steve Bell, President, KeySo Global LLC

Galvin & Jobs: Great “Men of Ideas”

Monday, October 24th, 2011

Article first published as Galvin & Jobs: Great “Men of Ideas” on Technorati.

The onset of autumn has brought the passing of two significant individuals who have shaped what the Economist refers to as “the era of personal technology”.

Since October 5 the media have been swamped with eulogies to Steve Jobs and coverage of memorials set up outside Apple stores by devoted followers. Without doubt, Steve Jobs possessed the unparalleled ability to combine design and technology, and infuse this with the emotive spark that consumers can relate to. He was highly skilled at identifying the right design for the right technology at the right time. Very rarely, however, did the products he introduced push the limits of the technology curve. His passion did not lie in the pursuit of leading edge technology or in the next great breakthrough but instead in the creation of user centered elegant and simplistic devices that slip into everyday life.

October 11 saw the passing of Robert Galvin, better known as Bob Galvin. Bob was long time CEO of Motorola and son of the founder, Paul Galvin. During his tenure, Motorola became an early pioneer in semiconductors, paging and cellular communications. These major milestone technologies required incredible foresight and the tenacity to overcome the challenges of long development cycles and innumerable roadblocks. Bob’s inspiration and commitment resulted in Motorola not only becoming a global player in these industries by delivering multiple breakthrough products but, more importantly, creating a wealth of knowledge and experience that has moved across the industry and the globe.

The life work of each of these men enabled the dawn of an exciting new era. Over the last 30 years computing, telephony, entertainment and consumer electronics have been on a converging path, and many recent landmark products and technology innovations were the result of the vision held by these two remarkable individuals. Their lasting legacies within Apple and Motorola will continue to exist as questions:  “What would Steve do?” and “What would Bob do?” The challenge for the next millennium is to build on these legacies; corporate leaders, employees and new entrants in all industries need to ask themselves “how do we take ideas and make them relevant to the consumer?” and “how do we turn ideas into the technology to make them possible?”

It’s sometimes hard to believe that innovation and growth can survive the turmoil of the current economic climate or that creative solutions can be found for the world’s problems. Statistics show, however, the world’s GDP has actually increased 7 fold over the past 30 years and it’s my belief that these two “men of ideas” were key contributors to this growth. Both were highly innovative and successful men who never lost touch with reality. Most significantly, they both had faith in the power of ideation to generate a sense of optimism for the future. May they now rest in peace.

At KeySo Global we are advisors and consultants about the impact of digital technology on society, business and individuals. Please contact us at, +1-847-478-1633 or visit our website

Steve Bell, President, KeySo Global LLC

Smart city architects – would Aristotle and Steve Jobs make a good team?

Friday, March 11th, 2011

Smart City InforgraphAristotle and Steve Jobs would, I believe, have worked well side by side.

While researching for his book the “Politics”, Aristotle studied the Greek city/state of Polis and questioned why people live together? He concluded that “the city… is a partnership for living well”.

Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple, said “Man is the creator of change in this world. As such he should be above systems and structures, not subordinate to them”. The design philosophy of the iPhone, iPad, iPod and iTunes reflects this, enabling simple usage that adapts seamlessly into a person’s lifestyle. Business at Apple has become the “art of life”.

What has this to do with smart cities? About three months ago I wrote a paper about the Internet of Things (IoT) based on an all-day discussion at the Center for Policy on Emerging Technologies (C-PET), a Washington based think tank. This paper addresses the challenges associated with this emerging technology, and examines some of the considerations from a government and regulatory perspective.

The paper covers topics such as the state of global collaboration, innovation, government and industry partnerships, infrastructure development, cost and motivational factors that prompt government and industry to pursue and develop these technologies on a global basis. It also touches upon four main areas of concern for society: privacy, control, security and elitism. At the heart of these issues is the principle of double power; that although this technology has the power to greatly enhance the way we live, it also has the opportunity to do significant harm to things we hold dear.

The Internet of Things, along with other Information Communication Technologies (ICT), are key enablers in the future world of smart grids, smart buildings and smart cities. The concept of smart cities has been emerging around the globe; in China it addresses the anticipated 350m people likely to move to urban living in the next 10 years; in other countries smart cities are being developed to take advantage of emerging technologies and to combine new concepts of urban living with better management of scarce resources.

Convergence of technologies has resulted in the creation of vast and ever more complex networks or systems. Within the systems, most attention tends to be paid to the components (IoT, ICT) making them up but really the true value of a complex system lies in the interaction between all the components. Smart cities are an extension of these complex systems and they will languish or flourish based, not on the technology used, but on the interaction facilitated between machine to machine, machine to humans, and humans to humans.

The principles of business as the “art of life” and the city as a “partnership for living well” should guide the holistic systems architecture and integration of IoT and ICT technologies into smart cities of the future. This should ensure that smart cities do not fall prey to the double power issue. More significantly, smart cities should be designed to foster communities of people, linked together through smart networks, which enable partnerships to grow and flourish. As a global community, we should listen to philosophers of the past and embrace practitioners of the present, to encourage the creation of smart cities in which we can live our smart lives to the fullest.

To obtain a copy of our comprehensive report on the “Internet of Things” or to find out how KeySo Global can assist you in taking advantage of Digital Life opportunities, contact us at +1 847-478-1633 or visit our website at