2020: Watch out for the convergence of Cloud, AI and 5G

The next decade has already been widely predicted and branded as the fourth industrial revolution.


The 2010-2019 decade is over.

But before we cover the technology highlights of this decade, we should perhaps review the previous 2000-2009 decade and then end with some predictions for the coming decade of 2020-2029.


Having liberalised the telecom sector in the late 1990s, Safaricom and Airtel, then called Zain, changed the face of communication by spreading mobile voice communication across the country.

Beyond voice, Zain introduced mobile money in 2005 but it seems Safaricom ran away with it when they launched their M-Pesa version two years later in 2007.

But before the decade could end, something more significant happened. Kenya launched the The East African Marine System (TEAMS) submarine optical cable in 2009, that significantly improved the quality of our internet connection.

Before this undersea cable, the Kenyan internet experience was horrible as traffic had to go through expensive, slow and congested Satellite connections introduced much earlier in 1990.


With a much better quality internet connection in the new decade,  new services could be deployed and consumer demand or uptake surged upwards as expected.

Beyond voice and mobile money, mobile phones could now connect to high quality broadband internet, making internet ubiquitous – it was now possible to have internet, anytime, anywhere, on the move and almost everywhere.

With ubiquitous mobile internet connectivity, cloud services became a reality. Cloud services provide computing power and storage that could be taken off-premise and accessed remotely.

This enabled the creation of new business models that were previously impossible. New business models that emerged during this decade were centered around platforms.

A platform connects two or more different types of markets to create value for customers.

Key platform-based enterprises that emerged included Uber (transport), AirBnB, (hospitality), mobile loans (FinTech), Instagram, WhatsApp (social media), to join their more established but monolithic cousins Facebook, Skype and Google.

The rise of social media, coupled with the Internet-of-Things (IoT), where cameras, sensors or monitors are placed everywhere to gather health, transport, weather, and all types of data, gave rise to the buzzword of the decade – Big Data.

These massive amounts of data collected from different sources in real time also provided a fertile ground for a new discipline called data-science. Data scientists create algorithms to make sense out of an otherwise huge volumes of unrelated data sets.

The convergence of Cloud, Big Data and the internet actually provided the holy grail for data scientists to create AI-driven applications that are giving a new lease of life to legacy enterprise applications.

They make it possible to have image recognition, speech translation services, self-driving cars, predictive and cognitive analytics amongst others services.

Most users will see these AI-driven applications manifested in services like Google-translate, that can flip an email from French to English, or Google maps, which provides direction to destination with real time traffic analysis, or Chatboxes that are increasingly replacing receptionists by answering repetitive queries from customers.

This decade has been one of mainstreaming AI, thanks to the convergence of Cloud services, AI and mobile internet.

2020 and beyond:

The next decade has already been widely predicted and branded as the fourth industrial revolution.

Essentially, this coming decade will see convergence of the three technologies of Cloud, AI and mobile internet (5G) getting deeper and enabling new business models to emerge.

However, what is often underestimated is the impact that Blockchain technology will have in all these developments.

Clearly, the most known use-case for Blockchain tech is also the most controversial one; the 10 year-long cryptocurrency experiment, that still continues to run without a technical glitch known as Bitcoin.

Its underlying technology Blockchain is likely to be mainstreamed over the next decade and will create new business models that will disrupt the centralised platform-based approaches that have dominated the last decade.

In other words, the centralised, platform-based models used by the Facebooks, the Googles, the Twitters, and the Ubers of this world are likely to be disrupted by what is known technically as the distributed ledger technology (DLT).

Progressive corporates like Facebook and others are already exploring how to disrupt themselves before they get disrupted. The have hired dedicated teams of Blockchain experts to review their current processes with a view to replacing them with Blockchain versions.

Is your organisation working on disrupting itself or does it prefer to wait and be disrupted? I can only wish you an enriching disruptive decade ahead.

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