Technology and innovation have always gone hand in hand – but perhaps never more so than today, where anyone who is connected anywhere in the world can create, design, programme, and implement tools, solutions, applications and products. Effective innovation is no longer the prerogative of the centre, of large companies, or developed nations. Some of the most radical new developments of the past decade have come from the edge of traditional markets: most notably, the hugely successful M pesa mobile payment scheme with its roots in Kenya, now found throughout the African continent and referred to as a benchmark or case study throughout the world.
And there is enormous scope for innovation in the ICT sector. Major technological trends are redefining the industry, from the development of 5G standards shaping future mobile communications to the growth of the Internet of Things and the emergence of network virtualization and mobile cloud computing.
Neuro-, bio- and nano-technologies, robotics, 3- or even 4D printing are no longer technologies of the future, but happening now with very real, if unpredictable, impact. The behemoth of big data is creating new business models – if not an entire new industry – in data analytics, the commercial exploitation of data, consumer privacy solutions, big data for development and open government programmes.
Drones, balloons, community projects and the innovative use of white spaces and WiFi are revolutionising last (or first) mile connectivity, opening up new markets, new products and applications. Unresolved issues of trust, security and privacy remain in a world where data knows no boundaries and critical infrastructure in every nation is vulnerable to cyber attack from any quarter.
The scale of innovation and change is enormous, and the simultaneous arrival of so many industry game changers unprecedented. New partnerships across sectors, new forms of collaboration, new approaches to innovation are called for. This is the exciting background shaping the agenda of Forum debates at ITU Telecom World 2015, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU)’s global platform of exhibition, debates and networking aimed at accelerating innovation in the ICT sector for industry growth and social good.
Increasingly it is the grassroots or community entrepreneurs, the start-ups, the micro, local businesses and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) that are driving that innovation across the ICT ecosystem. Entrepreneurs and SMEs are critical to ensuring economic growth in a sustainable and inclusive manner across developed and emerging economies alike, representing up to 60% of national GDP in some nations – and as much as 70% of jobs globally. ICT start-ups and entrepreneurs are a fundamental source of new jobs in the knowledge economy, with tremendous potential to grow global, regional and national economies.
This is why ITU Telecom World 2015, taking place from 12 – 15 October in Budapest, Hungary, will focus strongly on the role of SMEs, and the hubs, accelerators and incubators that support and foster them, providing a platform to share results, promote global collaboration and enable digital entrepreneurship for social good. The success of the industry, of adopting new technologies and adapting to new trends, is largely in the hands of micro and small businesses. Bringing this sector to the table, highlighting their importance, the opportunities they offer and the challenges they face, is essential to move forward the pace of development, take innovation to scale and improve lives everywhere.
Held on the theme of “Accelerating Innovation for Global Impact”, the Forum programme at the event will explore three main tracks: accelerating digital transformation, expanding access to digital opportunities and building trust for a connected future. From the current state of 5G to international standards in the Internet of Things, from new connectivity solutions to consumer trust in big data and the regulatory hurdles to innovation, the discussions will embrace the key issues of moment in the ICT sector – and address how together we can move forward on creating a better future for all, as soon as possible.
If you, or an expert you know, are interested in speaking in the Forum on any relevant topic or in any track, now is your chance to nominate a speaker: the Call for Nominations is open until 30 June. Attending the event also enables you to take part in the exhibition featuring SMEs, entrepreneurs and innovative solutions from around the world, as well as enjoying unique networking opportunities across emerging and developed markets, public and private sectors. Registration for event delegates opens later this month.
Let’s make better happen sooner. See you in Budapest this October!