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2020 is the year of 5G, AI, and Security

Written by Belinda

Increased rollouts of 5G in 2020 will unlock the development of more advanced technologies, said Gianfranco Lanci, corporate president and chief operating officer at Lenovo.

With potential speeds of up to 10Gbps, under ideal conditions, 5G is set to be as much as 20-times faster than 4G, Lanci said. It’s the additional benefits of greater stability and lower latency though that make it an all-round win.

“The reason everyone is so keen for 5G to roll out is because those combining factors mean it is the key to unlocking the development of more advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, edge computing and others.”

South Korea, the United Kingdom, Germany, and the United States are currently leading the 5G rollout race.

“They all have multiple companies that have deployed networks and are selling compatible devices,” Lanci said.

In Africa, however, 5G is still very limited. In South Africa, Rain launched their 5G network in September 2019, with coverage in Johannesburg, Tshwane, and Cape Town – and Vodacom has a limited-availability 5G network in Lesotho.

Lanci said that MTN and Vodacom will have to wait for ICASA to assign more spectrum before they can roll out 5G in South Africa. “We will also need more 5G compatible devices available for purchase in the country.”

“While we will have to wait until 5G networks are more universally available to see larger scale adoption, the resulting value companies are already preparing and building towards a more efficient 5G future.”

AI will go more mainstream

Faster, more stable connectivity will enable a superior artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) environment, said Lanci.

“As we start to gain a better understanding of AI and appreciate how it can make our lives easier, we’re going to look for more ways to incorporate it so that it can provide consistent, valuable services for our internal and external customers.”

He noted that in South Africa currently, AI is most commonly used for automation and prediction.

“Companies, however, will need to become more cognisant of individual’s right to privacy, and decide how to handle all that data they collect, as they increase their efforts to incorporate AI and ML into their business and products to streamline operations.”

Lanci said there is also a need to comply with data privacy regulations such as GDPR and POPI that will dictate how companies approach their governance and data infrastructure.

“It’s an exciting space and AI will prove to be a game changer on the African continent, as AI and ML have the ability to answer to challenges in agriculture, mining, manufacturing, healthcare, and education for example,” he said.

Organisational security

Organisations are going to need to be even more vigilant in the coming year, though, said Lanci. Mimecast’s 2019 annual report revealed that 88% of South African organisations experienced a phishing attack in the past 12 months.

Impersonation attacks are on the rise, with eight out of every 10 South African organisations experiencing an impersonation attack, and 63% reporting an increase in such attacks. The effects of cybercrime resulted in lost customers, and financial and data losses.

“As we all become more connected, protection against cybercrime becomes an even greater challenge. Organisations cannot simply rely on technology to stop attacks, you need to ensure that your employees understand the threat, and act in a responsible, proactive manner when it comes to security,” Lanci said.

The use of a context-based AI-endpoint security solutions will be fundamental, Lanci said.

“The ability to predict, prevent, detect, and respond to malicious activity at the endpoint will be vital to helping lock-down that endpoint and to be able to remediate in the event of a breach.”

Smart business

The advent of the Internet of Things (IoT) has resulted in specific environmental demands causing changes to the way we need to manage our data storage, Lanci added.

While the cloud is replacing conventional data centres at the core of the network, an entirely new technology tier, the edge, will emerge as a complementary source of IT infrastructure, supporting many innovative technologies.

Edge computing is enabling data transfers in non-traditional server environments, such as manufacturers’ shop floors, where limited space and increased vibrations and noise levels would traditionally have created a no-go zone, or African border posts where unstable power supplies, high temperatures, and humidity could cause standard servers to crash.

“With over 20 billion “things” projected to be connected to the Internet by 2020, more businesses will move data analytics and AI-powered apps from the cloud to edge computing to reduce latency, lighten core server loads, and improve business operations,” Lanci said.

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