Technology Equalizers and the Cloud

I heard a comment recently that stated if the developed world had wanted to do more for Africa 20 years ago, the best thing they could of done would have been to invest in cellular networks for as much of the continent as the money would provide. Forget food aid, or payments that end up the hands of corrupt governments, put in modern communications infrastructure and economic development will grow from there. I had a fascinating conversation with one of my Indian colleagues who was telling me about how new ways of using older mobile technology is emerging there, for example, there is a text only version of Facebook that basically gets new money for old rope! This led me to consider what cloud computing might mean for the developing world. There are two common approaches to providing cloud infrastructure which will yield different appeals to different markets. There is the race to the top which will provide premium services at a premium price. In this day and age, the cost of not being compliant with legislation can be astronomical where as the cost of using an expert in this field who handles this specific workload for a lot of customers can be modest in comparison.

The race to the bottom will provide access to computing resources which will allow those with less to spend to complete with the more established players. Currently the market seems to be more focused on the ¬†migration of on premise data centers to cloud data centers, managed by a service provider. While this model will continue I can’t wait to see what innovation will occur when by means of low cost compute resources and free access to training and tooling will lead to new products being created in the developing world where things haven’t yet reached an access point that can really transform the way of life.

I predict there will be a time that with low cost compute resources and mobile networks, we’ll see developing nations skip some of the costly infrastructure development that has prohibited growth up till now and we’ll see a more decentralized business model develop where markets close and abroad can be reached with new and innovative product offerings. Think the farmer in rural Africa being able to sell his crops directly to households in the western world needing only presence and a local shipping agent!

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