Technology has become the driving force throughout organizations of every size and industry. Companies that don’t embrace technology to fuel their business are left behind by those automating, creating efficiencies, achieving scale, and providing a super customer experience with the help of technology.
According to Ian Jansen Van Rensburg, Lead Technologist, VMware Sub Saharan Africa, some technological advancements are yet to be invented and may only materialize much later in the region.
Ian is however very optimistic about Sub Saharan Africa as a continent full of initiative. He asks, “Who knows what type of technology advances can come from Africa soon?”
He cites the futuristic example of a “flying taxi” that has been piloted in Dubai- self proclaiming to be the first city in the world to offer a flying taxi service. But if this goes mainstream, how long will it take to hit the skies of Nairobi?
Ian acknowledges that technology is moving at a very fast pace and that any company that can’t keep up with this change, runs the risk to become obsolete in the future. A company can only move as quickly as its slowest board member. There is fierce competition amongst companies and the ones that will stand out, are the ones willing to take the technology leap and “risks for the new”.
A company like Uber brought industry disruption. This caused trouble and uproar in certain countries due to the traditional taxi drivers not knowing how to compete with this new-found technology breakthrough. Technology can be positively disruptive or create anger amongst those that cannot compete.
Ian made mention that the software defined future is here, now. It’s about when you will implement the strategy of One Cloud, Any Application, Any Device, not if. The technology is mature and ready for use but the hindrance is people and process. People are reluctant to change and would like to continue with what they already know. The unknown can be scary (like the software defined flying taxi).People are used to doing certain things in a certain way and it will take them some time to adjust and adopt to a new way of doing things and to fully accept a new normal.
Ian has a great interest in the transport industry (connected self-driving cars, high speed trains, and even the flying taxi). It’s always been one of the human’s basic needs, to get from point A to B. Ian says, “One of the most interesting topics is how the transport industry is changing to adapt to the needs of a software defined future”. Some things, like the smart phone has not fundamentally changed over the last few years, but “application innovation” has changed the way we interact with another.
Ian was asked, “what solution he would implement for Nairobi’s congested traffic”. He quickly points out that a good public transport system is necessary to move people around in large quantities, this will free up the number of cars and busses on the road. Secondly the roads need to cater for the traffic load and automation is necessary (traffic rules, lights and signs).
He summarizes the ways to decongest traffic in Nairobi as below:
- Implement automated public transport
- Improve the quality and size of the roads
- Implement automated traffic lights, rules and signs.
To take it one step further, Internet of Things will be able to add much more traffic efficiency. One of the “things” is the software defined, connected smartphone or car. With applications like Google Maps or Waze, you are already warned of traffic congestion and how to take the best route. What if it can be even more improved by smart traffic lights, smart street signs and smart buildings.
So, if there are hundreds, thousands or millions of connected cars on the roads, Internet of Things and VMware could analyze data to ease traffic congestion, show you where to park and direct you to a place that sells your favorite cup of coffee.
We communicate with each other on any device, in any place and at any time. Would it not be great to have technology doing the same for the transport industry than what it’s already done for the telecommunications industry.
To disrupt the transport industry in Kenya we need to think big and make use of technology to make it a reality.