The technology world is on the verge of one of its biggest ever waves of disruption, as the intersection of the Internet of Things and Real Time Communications gives birth to the Exchange of Everything.
This new concept is reminiscent of the technology trend that swept through Wall Street back in the 1990s. I came into Wall Street fresh out of college, building trading floor technology that helped firms keep up with the growth of the public markets and introduction of new platforms. This meant building and engineering sophisticated trader voice applications connecting thousands of participants – buyers, sellers, brokers, banks and, of course, exchanges.
It was 'real time all the time' with 24-hour global trades emerging, where seconds meant millions and there was no tolerance for anything other than 'pin drop' audio. There was simply too much money on the line.
One day, we were trying to figure out how to run more copper under an already tangled mess of a trading floor, when it hit me: this thing called the Internet, combined with fibre optics, IP protocol, and VoIP would unlock enormous value. My thinking was transformed, and led me to start and sell several companies which simply made real time communications better.
Decades later, this journey has come full circle. We are now building exchange technology, but on a much bigger, broader and more meaningful level.
There are billions of end-points flourishing on the Internet of Things and unlimited possibilities when it comes to Real Time Communications (RTC) – particularly as better software, new standards, and powerful platforms make embedded, contextual human communications possible.
The ultimate disruptor
Machines and people continue to live in more intuitively bonded ways, and we can now do just about anything on our smartphones. But, with the combination of more powerful and affordable devices, bigger and better networks, easier and still secure access through cellular, WiFi, mesh, and more, exponential doesn’t even begin to describe the telecosmic growth coming in the next few decades.
Telecoms started with exchanges after the telegraph made information sharing possible through post offices, railway stations, newspapers, government agencies, and stock exchanges. The telephone exchange organised all this through a switchboard, which distributed signals beyond the point-to-point system.
Fast forward to today: in the fibre optics and Internet Protocol world, we have transformed beyond the initial voice peering exchanges in the soft-switched world, to incredibly sophisticated Internetworked Packet Exchanges (IPX) that enable billions of conversations per second and ensure network service providers are being paid.
Just as the original telegraph and switched voice innovations gave rise to financial exchanges 100 years ago, the Internet continues to give rise to the possibility of trading nearly everything online.
From music, goods, and services to finding a date, restaurant, or hotel, or even buying a new car or home – the online consumption model is now endless. As the trend grows we are now seeing individuals monetising their time, be it joining Uber, renting their house out on Airbnb, selling their unwanted products on eBay, or selling their talents by the hour as independent experts.
Entire businesses are now being built around Sherpas that guide us through this process – such as Siri, Cortana, and Alexa – and avatars that present themselves as intuitive, sensitive 'doctors' able to diagnose and treat illness. Last year Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Amazon, and Twitter made huge investments in Artificial Intelligence, with most providing open-sourced tools for developing AI projects.
While these robotic Internet guides serve as brokers on the Exchange of Everything, what we may be missing in the middle of all these automations and inventions is that sometimes there really is nothing quite like reaching another human being.
But the Exchange of Everything has that covered too, with live experts reachable in seconds to save lives. One of the most exciting projects is TeleMedCo, which uses the Kandy communications platform and is powered by IBM Watson.
This system is being built for Emergency Rooms and, with the combination – and Exchange – of software, data, AI, protocol, platforms and people, a cardiologist can be found in a heartbeat. Inside this Exchange is a directory of doctors and specialists, with profiles set up and real time communications policy established so a doctor is alerted when his or her patient is admitted.
The doctor receives a secure text message and can click on the link and immediately establish a session with the ER – with both sides looking at the patient’s electronic medical record to diagnose and treat them more quickly and accurately. All this is captured in the record, and can be used to continually refine and improve the quality of outcomes.
A radically new Human Connected Experience
When we bring every endpoint and every human being onto the Exchange of Everything, the opportunities for creativity and creating value are limitless. When real time communications are embedded into how we live, we are no longer ‘dialing the phone’ but intuitively and almost invisibly living digitally.
In this new world, as soon as we are born we are connected and monitored for everything for our entire life. We are hooked up to big data processing like Watson, which will constantly evaluate every human condition experienced. It will be able to correlate things like whether rest affects health, see stress coming long before it happens, and pinpoint and provide warning indicators for conditions like depression and other illnesses.
People can now be evaluated for genomes against likely defects and stay safe, as well as measure their overall health and interact with exactly the right doctors, health experts and fitness instructors.
The Exchange of Everything is everywhere. Whether for health or just happiness, we can buy nearly anything online assisted by shopping or service bots embedded into social networks like Facebook. This makes buying easier and more fun, while service is more ‘human’ when experts in high value products appear on a shopper’s mobile phone while they are browsing in a 3D store.
A lot to process
It’s time for communications service providers, systems integrators, and software developers to switch things up. The Exchange of Everything can’t grow on a switched network so it’s time to truly transform to all-IP. This will protect subscribers, grow service revenue from them, and attract new subscribers through innovation.
These providers must understand and leverage their assets. Networks are incredibly valuable and challengers like Facebook, Skype, Twitter, WhatsApp, and others know it. They’ve used traditional providers’ network investments to their advantage and, with the right strategy and right way of thinking, they can harness what they have and take advantage of ready-made platforms that can fully engage with the Exchange of Everything.
Exchanges make money everywhere, from membership fees and transaction fees to big data. Exchanges support entire economies, such as banks, brokers, traders, buyers, sellers, analysts, and news organisations. They are the engines behind local and global growth, and the vibrant marketplaces they spawn create jobs, jobs create income, and income creates a flow of currency into the system which can fix the global economy.
There is no industry better positioned to take advantage of the 'Exchange Economy' than ours – but it requires us to think differently, to invest in innovation, and be willing to change.
David Walsh is President, CEO & Chairman of GENBAND