Welcome to the digital universe where data is ‘the sun’ and anything is possible

Patricia Florissi VP & Global CTO for Sales at Dell Technologies. Picture supplied by Dell
Patricia Florissi VP & Global CTO for Sales at Dell Technologies. Picture supplied by Dell

From satellites images that improve crops to parking spaces that can predict retail earnings: we now live in a digital universe where data is the sun and almost anything is possible thanks to technology.

That was the optimistic picture of the near future painted by Dell Technologies’ Patricia Florissi in a keynote address to delegates at an event hosted by the tech multinational in Johannesburg on Thursday, 27 June 2019.

Hundreds of industry decision makers attended the annual Dell Technologies Forum, held at the Sandton Convention Centre this year, for an insight into the latest in business technologies and strategies.

Florissi, the company’s VP and Global CTO for Sales, spoke about how the world is changing because of technology, noting that the real potential lies in countries such as her native Brazil and South Africa:

“I’m inspired by South Africa. It’s the dawn of a new era where technology will help create a new future,” she said.

Citing several examples, Florissi elaborated on how emerging technologies are impacting the world in unexpected ways. The ability to launch satellites more frequently and cheaply is vastly improving our knowledge of environments especially when we start analyzing the data through artificial intelligence (AI) to extract actions.

She said that photos from retail parking lots can already help accurately predict the turnover of shopping malls and can prompt stores to launch promotions for the day to push sales. The potential of crops are also more readily visible, thanks to the combination of satellite imagery and computer vision.

Big strides

The world has taken big strides in the past 65 years, she said, vastly improving lifespans and infant mortality, as well as literacy. But the full force of the digital era is only starting to become apparent.

Returning to the crops example, Florissi noted that it’s not just about delivering the best yields, but also to address production loss and distribution waste. We generate enough food to feed everyone, but efficiencies fall short. The insights from digital technologies can change that dramatically and can equally reduce the high demand on natural resources like water and energy.

Then why has it taken so many decades to realise these benefits?

“The world went through several AI winters,” Florissi explained. “There were periods of no progress because we didn’t have the right technology forces.”

This, she said, is what makes our current era so significant. Florissi identified a number of such forces that are currently fueling innovation and change, including AI, the Internet of Things, augmented reality, edge computing and 5G. Central to all of these is data or, as Florissi calls it, “the centre of the digital universe.”

“Data is the sun. It’s the fuel. But unlike other fuel sources, it’s inexhaustible.”

The combination of all these forces is creating a technology continuum. We no longer have data centres, but centres of data, she said. Being able to understand and learn to live in the digital universe is what will unlock value for businesses and progress for societies. Naturally, Dell Technologies wants to be a partner in that journey for every type and size of organisation, because this influences everyone:

“Regardless if you are a two trillion dollar powerhouse or a two-storey farmhouse, we want to help you evolve”

Opening the event, Dell Technologies’ MD for South Africa, Doug Woolley, encouraged attendees to embrace this change and move forward:

“That’s how we’ll create digital citizens and growth. The digital revolution is upon us. It will bring a lot of change. As a developing nation, we must grab that with both hands.” – GeekWire.co.za