February 24, 2018, 10:28 pm
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Five technologies that will define 2018 for PH

DIGITAL transformation in the Philippines is expected to accelerate exponentially this year. 

The many opportunities made available by planned improvement in connectivity and various tools available on Cloud services such as Amazon Web Services, protocols triggered by Blockchain and functionalities offered by artificial intelligence and chatbots are now ripe for the picking.

Checking around the many university-promoted hackathons and those created by incubators and start-up searchers there are so many needs to be answered and so many ways to execute a life-changing app. The Filipino developer can create the next Uber or Airbnb. But where could one find the next big thing?

To rationalize this question, consider these ten technologies that I believe will quickly transform 2018 digitally.

BLOCKCHAIN now also known as the “second Internet,” eliminates all manual processes of recording, reviewing and reconciling transactions using an irrevocable ledger. Blockchain provides the scalability, security, agility, reliability and efficiency to make business and individual transactions immutable and completely trustworthy. 

Blockchain transactions are valid individually through what is known as a distributed ledger. This individual proof of validity is also the authorization to make or constrain changes and enforce common changes. A consensus mechanism, developed and run by all parties involved will ensure security fabric for real time transactions can be verified by all those involved in the transaction.

Banks, financing institutions are the obvious beneficiaries of Blockchain but the technology will be advantageous to other industries and sectors as well. In education, it be used to securely conduct online classes and examinations. For government, one use is the creation of a national identification system via a digital identity protocol. For business and enterprise the 

In fact, cryptocurrency is based on and protected by Blockchain. Of the current applications for a distributed ledger, it is the management and use of cryptocurrency that may be the focus of developers in 2018.

Expect companies like Amihan and Hyperledger to lead the developments on Blockchain. Unionbank, with its Ark concept will also lead the next generation of banks, creating a new space for financial transactions.

BUSINESS BOTS will be the next target of Filipino developers. And why not? The country is one of the business process outsourcing centers in Asia and developing chatbots using Artificial Intelligence (AI) is just going to be relevant. Not that chatbots will replace humans in a call center. The idea of taking out routine tasks and assigning these to a conversing robot will make work more focused on tasks that need actual human interaction and understanding. 

Creative Pinoy developers can quickly create bots that can, for example, converse over an e-commerce platform like PoundIt. It can talk in English or Tagalog and can understand the customer’s need and intent, while it goes into a conversational state, instead of a typed or texted form. Filipinos love to talk and ask questions so Machine Learning (ML) and image recognition are key to this business bot. It must be able to respond intelligently. An agile system is necessary to make this integration work.

Now, readily available from Amazon Web Services (AWS) are services that make it easy to create a business bot. Using devices like Amazon Alexa and connecting the technology to Amazon Lex (a speech recognition service), Polly (for text to speech conversion) and Rekognition (image recognition) developers can shorten the work of developing applications with real time and meaning conversation with machines for routine tasks such as securing a boarding pass or getting a movie ticket. 

THE SUPER APP is a term I use in the development of on-demand apps that manage our time and location. 

Filipino developers I have met are always on the lookout for the next big app. Something the size of Uber or AirBnb. But the business model I believe must be more local—more attuned to the needs of the common Pinoy, like a commuting app that assures an empty seat on a UV Express, or a locator of the bus you need to get home or an app that keeps your place in a queue while in a medical center for a check up or the same place in the line at the bus terminal while you get a drink at the nearby 7-11. Even an app that tells the health condition of the frail MRT.

These on demand apps need quick development and quicker turnaround. Observing developers at hackathons is indicative of just how fast the Filipino developers works. Here is an example needed coming from a quick online survey or harassed commuters and students.

 A laundry app, beauty services app, UV express “pila” app, coming late to work (or school) app with a geolocator and time in and out, book sale app, vacant dorm and room-for-rent app. Why with Blockchain we can even vote using an app.

INTERNET OF THINGS makes life easy and smart. Thus the idea of controlling lights, opening doors, turning on appliances is already commonplace. Here will be over 20 billion IoT devices by 2020

Thus the idea of smart cities, smart home, e-retail, and e-health services is quickly moving. The strongest platform of IoT is the most common operating system—Android. Google’s “Android Things” allows faster take up and adoption of IoT. The host of devices, sensors, connectors, processors have also gone up while the prices have gone down. And since IoT is developing rapidly, the hardware makers, cognizant of the security impact it will have in the future have started to develop these with built in security features. 

IBM Watson, Intel Edison, Amazon Dash, the Arduino and Raspberry Pi have opened doors to programmers and developers to study and connect with the vast amount of information and apps already developed. Platforms on AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform offer an open source environment to maximize the use and application of IoTs. 

Watch how the Pinoy developer, the likes of E-Science comes into this ecosystem with force in 2018.

GAMING is one field where the Filipino developer and game player excel. We have seen Filipinos dominating eSports activities globally. But we have also seen Filipino game developers slowly coming into the game app world with heroic attempts. Part of this gaming development is
Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR).

Both technologies have redefined gaming and this has continued with gaming trends like Pokemon Go, which seemed to have lost some steam. Nevertheless, global research has predicted that AR and VR will generate $150 billion in revenue by 2020. 

Filipino developers must pursue this potential market. It is not limited to developers as even content is now being pushed with AR behind videos such at those produced using Amazon Go in the field of e-commerce.

I see companies like Synergy 88 at the forefront of gaming development using these technologies.

A caveat though.

I have observed that many developers, mesmerized by making millions of pesos from app development seem to be looking at making money instead of answering a demand or need. I believe this tramples on the development process.

For example, an excellent transport booking app designed for the daily traveller is not getting off the ground because the developer is more concerned towards selling (the process) or monetizing (by advertising) on this proof of concept rather than delivering code and functionality that considers real world situations (spotty Internet, payment systems) and security. Actual performance maybe there, but because of monetization, the transformative reality seemingly taking the backseat.

There is nothing wrong about monetization. Great technology fit to answer a need will necessarily deliver profit. (Raymond G.B. Tribdino)
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