Internetix 2013 reveals an HCI-enabled future

The 2,200 attendees of the 14th annual Internetix conference, hosted by Internet Solutions (IS), were left with a clear vision of what the future holds as far as human interaction with technology is concerned when the conference drew to a close on 23 July.

The 2013 edition of this popular conference took place in Cape Town and Johannesburg, under the theme of “Live in Exponential Times”. This theme was brought to life in the welcoming addresses and the keynote speeches, as well as the business and technical streams presented by IS staff during the conference’s afternoon session.

The day’s proceedings got under-way with an official welcome from Ronnie Apteker, founder of Internet Solutions, and an opening address from IS managing director, Saki Missaikos. Delegates were then treated to thought-provoking keynote addresses from best-selling author Steven Johnston, the leading light of today’s interdisciplinary, collaborative, open-minded approach to innovation, and Dr Garth Japhet, founder of Heartlines and Soul City, and the driving force behind a new locally produced financial edutainment feature film called “Nothing for Mahala”.

Attendees also heard a business talk by Derek Wilcocks, CEO of Dimension Data MEA. He discussed the power of entrepreneurial ventures that meet societal needs and “create economic value where others only see heaps of nothingness”. Citing the success of the Daily Sun newspaper in a declining print media market, and the use of SMS technology to ensure rural communities and HIV-infected individuals get and take their medication, Wilcocks highlighted how society, communities and technology are coming together to reshape Africa and the possibilities that lie ahead for its population.

Prenesh Padayachee, chief technology officer, then began to build the image of a technology-enabled future by showcasing the software-defined network (SDN) – the next evolution in networking that will enable a richer, deeper interaction between humans and computers. “SDNs will give companies the ability to transfer data across the network in a more flexible way. This offers better network adaptability to meet the demands of ever-changing business conditions,” he explained. “SDNs will also enable better network configurations, ensuring the right quality of service and a predictable experience is delivered for different types of data. It also brings a degree of programmability, through open standards, that offers tangible benefits like flexibility in the types of applications and services you can enable over it.”
Greg de Chasteauneuf, innovation and technology manager for enterprise mobility, then expanded on the concept of tomorrow’s network with his talk on “The everywhere, everything network”. Discussing how SDNs will be the enabler of networks of the future that guarantee the end-to-end quality of service required to enable true mobility, De Chasteauneuf elaborated on the important role that Wi-Fi will play in augmenting the mobile networks of today. “With the dawn of Hotspot 2.0 standards we are finally on the path to seamless interoperability, which holds huge potential for a number of technologies that will directly impact our daily lives. Driven by the rising trend of the Internet of things, concepts like home automation, enhanced logistics and health services that can draw on all your available information are now becoming a reality.”

In his talk on “Application irrelevance”, Roger Hislop, new business developer in innovation, expanded on the concept of how technology will be integrated into everyday life. He explained that technology companies today need to start building contextually relevant products and applications that meet the need of tomorrow’s consumers. “Applications with context and relevance will soon be integrated into everyday life, enabling users to interact with technology everywhere, from the bathroom and the kitchen, to the car and the retail environment.” To meet this demand, Hislop outlined the key game-changing factors that would dictate the relevance or irrelevance of a company and its products in the next five to 10 years.

To close the day’s thought provoking technical streams, and succinctly tie all of these concepts together, Hayden Lamberti, business unit manager; enterprise mobility, described how all of these elements – SDN, the everywhere network and application irrelevance – were all integral elements to enabling greater human-computer interaction (HCI).

In discussing the meeting point between the human and the system, Lamberti described how the definition of technology is changing to include purpose-built hardware and appliances, and how user experience and user interface specialists are making user engagement more intuitive and relevant.

“There are three distinct realms in the IT industry that have evolved to enable these possibilities. These include the everywhere network; mobile compute functions that offer multiple compute capabilities into a single fit-for-purpose device; and the cloud. By filling the cloud with data and allowing greater user interaction we will be able to create any number of outputs from any input. This will give us the ability to automate real life, which is extremely powerful. On a fundamental level we are seeing the start of the real world operating system, and it is HCI, through application irrelevance, enabled by the everywhere network, which runs on SDN, that’s the real game changer in this regard,” he concluded.

“Internetix 2013 certainly lived up to its billing as the IT industry’s preeminent discussion platform for technology innovation, idea sharing and forward thinking,” comments Tony Walt, chief solutions and marketing officer at IS. “It was a great day of discussion and learning, and the feedback we have received has been tremendous. We look forward to welcoming everyone back next year as we continue our interaction and engagement with the industry’s key stakeholders.”

Staff writer