February 2018

Heading into the clouds

Genius Wong, chief product officer for cloud and security at Tata Communications, speaks about how the internet and cloud are reducing the barriers to entry across sectors and levelling the playing field

What's been the biggest change over your 20-year tech career?
The combination of practically ubiquitous internet connectivity and cloud computing has unlocked new growth opportunities for businesses, allowed them to introduce new services faster, enabled organisation-wide digital transformation and transformed entire industries. Just look at the disruptive impact of Airbnb on the hospitality industry. The internet and the cloud mean that there are now very few barriers to entry across sectors, levelling the playing field between nimble start-ups and industry stalwarts.

What about 20 years ahead?
The breakneck speed of innovation means that it's hard to predict what will happen in five years' time – let alone in 2037. But artificial intelligence (AI) will transform technology and telecoms, including how we manage and protect networks. AI will pave the way for faster and more secure networks. And these AI-enabled networks will be the foundation for the hundreds of thousands of driverless cars on our roads in the future, for example.

Cybersecurity: what's your number-one wish?
Business leaders need to stop burying their heads in the sand, thinking that a cyberattack will never happen to them. The impact of the massive WannaCry ransomware attack should have been minimal because Microsoft issued a patch for the vulnerability in March. Yet only 10-15% of businesses had implemented this critical update. IT departments often need to wait for approval for critical updates from up the hierarchy – especially around the end of a quarter, when every penny counts. Delaying updates can leave businesses vulnerable, and the EU's upcoming General Data Protection Regulation will impose hefty fines on businesses that fail to protect themselves.

How does Tata Communications' global network benefit humanity?
Our network carries more than a quarter of the world's internet routes that power the digital world. The internet has become a social equaliser, democratising access to services. It is today in the hands of 3.5 billion people – and, by 2021, there will be 4.6 billion internet users and 27 billion internet-connected devices around the world. From connected homes and e-health facilities to nextgeneration energy management, personal safety and security systems, everything will be connected, enabling a truly connected society. The internet, underpinned by our network, brings new opportunities to people and businesses, and ultimately improves the lives of everyone.

Advice for a young person looking for a tech job?
Go for it! Technology now permeates all aspects of our lives. Just think about the growing role of data, mobile devices and internet connectivity in how we transport things from A to B, monitor our health or do our shopping. Very soon there won't be any businesses or jobs that don't have a technology element. The opportunities to make your mark in this rapidly moving market will continue to grow.

This article first appeared in issue 6 of Perspective, the magazine for Tata in Europe. Read the full issue of Perspective here