Idrakas Dadašovas: “the most significant breakthroughs in IT take place at the intersection of technological field and humanities.”
Some ten years ago, the term information technology (IT) referred to a specific autonomous field encompassing computers, programming, and the Internet. Today, however, IT is part of many people’s everyday lives, and its invasion does not seem to stop here.
Veidas has talked to Idrakas Dadašovas, the established and CEO of the Penki Kontinentai Group, about future trends in IT.
VEIDAS: What are the three most evident trends in the field of information technology for the coming year?
IDRAKAS DADAŠOVAS: In the nearest future, I can see three clear directions in which the field of information and communications technology will develop: these are big data, cloud computing solutions, and an increasing extent of cybercrime. All these three fields are closely interconnected, so those who will learn to make proper use of them will gain an advantage over others due to their synergy.
Big data is information available to everyone. However, its volume today is enormous because every person uses numerous devices that collect information daily. For example, smartphones not only record the dialed numbers or websites that you visit; they also keep track of the time spent on the specific websites, your likes in social networks, frequency, and location of your workouts. More and more devices now collect biometric data: they can read fingerprints, recognize faces, and measure heart rate. Big data offers many useful insights; one needs to be able to see them.
Properly analyzed data could greatly assist businesses’ incorrect decision-making or planning of effective development strategies. More and more companies can seize this opportunity because many open-source tools for the management and analysis of big data have been introduced in the market recently. So in the coming years, those who can notice and take advantage of big data opportunities will win. This, however, will require the help of competent specialists capable of analyzing the data.
Processing of the data requires great computing capacities lacking in most average companies, so analysis tools are often based on cloud technology. The prediction is that by the end of 2016, about 50 percent of the major global companies will store critical information about their customers and consumers in cloud storage kept in third-party data centers. The trend is promoted by the possibility to save IT costs offered by cloud computing. Several years from now, the use of cloud solutions will become a mass phenomenon, especially among small and medium-sized companies; this business segment’s growth can exceed 80 percent a year. The growth of the cloud sector marks the transition to a new development stage of the IT market.
However, IT’s development and improvement mean that cybercriminals will also get better at what they do. The extent of the damage done by cybercriminals will only increase shortly. This trend will be fueled by several factors: the growing popularity of cloud solutions, the increasing use of smartphones and tablet PCs for work, and the resulting new ways of breaking in. Computer security will gain increasing importance to all organizations and will receive more and more attention. I believe that shortly, we will witness the growth of insurance against cyber risks. Protection against such attacks cannot be trivial; multilayer tools will be required here, especially because of the rapid development of such fields as artificial intelligence or deep learning.
VEIDAS: Let’s take a look further into the future: how, in your opinion, will the world change due to technology in ten years?
I.D.: Without rapid information technology development, the modern world would not be the way we are used to seeing it now. From the end of the twentieth century up to the present day, this segment witnessed incredible breakthrough; one has to look around to see this. In the future, personal computers’ computing capacity will reach the level of that of the human brain, while wireless Internet connection will cover large territories.
One should also keep in mind virtual and augmented reality tools, gaining more and more popularity recently. People will no longer take their eyes away from the screens displaying continuous flows of various information types. And all these flows will be individualized based on the user profile, needs, or status. People will spend substantial amounts of time in realistic virtual environments: they will work, communicate, and have fun there. This will gradually eliminate boundaries between the real and virtual world; people will be continuously present in an integrated information space. Artificial intelligence will enable automation of most of the routine operations and mental work. I do not believe that there will be universal artificial intelligence ten years from now, but specialized artificial intelligence tools will be used in nearly all fields.
VEIDAS: The Internet has opened doors for many new phenomena that have given rise to ethical concerns today, for example, maximum freedom of speech and trolling, convenient media use, and piracy. What are your opinions regarding the Internet? Should it be controlled, or should its development remain uncontrolled?
I.D.: The Internet is free territory. This includes freedom of speech. Everything seems to be right on the one hand; on the other hand, this freedom has the potential of becoming a source of negative behavior. Online, you can say whatever you want to anyone in the world; often, this will not affect you in any way. In the age of information wars, it is complicated to draw the line between freedom of speech and trolling; it is difficult to tell the truth from provocation.
Piracy is theft, and pirates are thieves. When downloading books, music, or movies from unlawful sources, you are actually stealing. The problem with computer piracy is that people do not associate this action with theft. Speed and ease of content distribution and the process of defeating content protection resemble a game, so no-one even bothers to think that they are appropriating someone else’s property. After all, they have not seen the owner, and penalties for such thefts are seldom imposed.
VEIDAS: What areas in which the Lithuanian IT sector is strong, and which ones should be strengthened in the future?
I.D.: In Lithuania, people’s intellectual potential is being used for work in the field of information technology more actively. The country’s workforce market has about 1.5 million specialists. Lithuania is among the top five European countries where young people strive to work in the IT sector. Our country can also boast the fastest public Wi-Fi and the fastest broadband Internet connection. This means that we have a solid base, and we should ensure effective cooperation between businesses and universities. This will allow focusing on the enhancement of competitiveness.
VEIDAS: What direction would you recommend to a young person who wishes to work in the field of IT or technology: should they look for a position in a large company or take the risk and establish their own business?
I.D.: Learning is an integral part of the activities of any person. The days when a programmer with excellent knowledge of one programming language could expect to be greeted with bread and salt by everyone are gone. Today, key breakthroughs in IT occur at the intersection of different specializations. Now, even a simple programmer must have knowledge of the language itself and the operating principles of SQL server and understand how operating systems, local networks, or computer protection works. Programmers are also required to be familiar with some accounting or staff management basics. This trend will only grow in the future.
Specialists with narrow specialization and excellent knowledge of their field will also be in demand; however, they will also have to broaden their horizons, for example, by learning to work in a team or acquiring skills of selling their services and competences.
This is because modern information technology becomes increasingly more focused on people and less often on technological requirements. Information technologies have eventually stopped being mere technical tools and become more focused on non-computer people. Today, it isn’t easy to imagine a writer who does not use a computer in his or her work, even though some thirty years ago, most writers used typewriters.
As computer equipment becomes more focused on non-computer people, the need for specialists capable of understanding computer codes and expectations of the users begins to grow. The ability to use document or project management systems is equally important as the knowledge of binary arithmetic. We can observe the gradual convergence of specialists of exact sciences and humanities, physicists, and lyrists in this context. Therefore, the most interesting and promising projects occur at the intersection of different areas of human activities. Social networks, smart search systems, image recognition tools are some examples of such mixed projects.
Information technology development and its focus on non-computer people force us to look for new solutions to the same tasks. It becomes less and less common for heads of companies to tell programmers what to do and how to do it. IT specialists more often serve as on-call experts who advise on the necessary modifications and persons who should perform the task. This gradually increases the importance of IT staff in the planning of business processes and their responsibility. Thus universities and other organizations need to offer education for IT specialists to develop their ability to get their priorities right and independently organize work processes because this helps control the quality of work results and comply with deadlines.
VEIDAS: Thank you for the interview.