The software-defined future of industries

Arthur C. Clarke, the great science fiction author and futurist, said that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. If so, today’s software engineering IS the magic behind the most sophisticated technological concepts and technology itself has the power to improve every industry on the planet. But the speed at which improvement takes place varies. While some technology industries such as telecommunications, financial services, media and entertainment are advancing quickly, others like hospitality, construction, advanced manufacturing and healthcare need more time to catch up.

At intive, we consider software-defined approach to be one of the main technological drivers reshaping existing industry sectors. In the software-defined systems, that’ll transform the world as we know it, the software-first approach and cloud-based design and approach become the center focus of product and services development and management. Previously, major investments were being made in hardware and infrastructure to further technological development.

Thanks to the concept of cloud architecture and cloud-first solutions, it’s the software that changes the game for everyone. With flexible, scalable and adjustable cloud infrastructure, existing applications can be adapted to the cloud and businesses benefit from this transformation in little time. In this new tech environment, inexpensive hardware advancements can be enough to drive mind blowing business growth (if combined with a little bit of software magic).

Here are the three industries experiencing interesting software-defined transformation.

Shaping network traffic with agile telecoms

The telecom industry suffers from a major issue: The demand for mobile services is increasing, and society wants more and more bandwidth with unlimited plans. People want to pay less and demand broad and high-quality mobile coverage at all times, which is causing cost pressure for the telecom giants. Consumers simply don’t accept that there might not be enough bandwidth for them to make a phone call to their loved ones on New Year’s Eve, or during any time period when network congestion occurs.

Up until recently, network providers were unable to scale on demand. If they wanted to handle major traffic, they needed to make upfront investments into hardware that would let them increase network capacity just to handle one peak time. The cloud approach comes into the picture because OSS systems could potentially analyze network events and discover incoming bandwidth demand, then automatically scale certain network functions to handle high traffic. When demand drops, the system can scale down to save energy, but in general, there is a cloud orchestrator responsible for automatic scaling of cloud functions.

So instead of heavy investments into infrastructure, the telecommunications cloud performs on an automatic level. Suddenly, providers only need physical radio access. Then, in real time, they can scale up other network functions to support traffic demand. The telecom was never as agile as it is now, with software-defined solutions in place.

Vehicle features only when you want them

This same software-defined, flexible approach is gradually being used in the vehicle manufacturing industry. Today’s consumers want cars that have all of the premium features such as full connectivity, onboard entertainment, heated steering wheels, facial recognition, voice control and active safety features, among others. Yet, having all of the top features comes at a high price; often too high. Or, the user purchases the additional options only to realize that they were never really essential.

The automotive industry can think with the software-first approach by delivering cars with all of the functionalities already embedded in the car. This is a true revolution in thinking. Through applications in the car itself, the user can then buy certain features only if they are needed, or even rent them.

For example, if a family wants to take a skiing trip to Austria, they will probably need heated seats. The user can go into the car’s system and purchase a seat-heater option for the duration of the vacation and then turn it on when necessary. When the trip ends, they can deactivate the function and stop paying for it. As such, the car can do anything the user wants on demand.

Updated healthcare

Healthcare is going through significant changes, as many current processes are very outdated. As said before, the healthcare industry as a whole is a little bit slow when it comes to adapting latest technologies. The market value of software in this sector is forecasted to reach around $29.9 billion by 2023. Digital transformation of patient management, diagnostics and medical procedures is gradually changing the med landscape clinic by clinic, from California to Seoul. Some of the most technically advanced hospitals are located in Singapore, Thailand and India.

A significant number of solutions that are needed to develop new methods are available, so they are slowly starting to be implemented.

Google just recently developed a microscope capable of highlighting cancer cells in real-time. The microscope uses augmented reality combined with a machine learning algorithm to search for cancer cells as soon as a sample is placed in the microscope’s base. The solution speeds up the analysis and can potentially help in diagnosing other illnesses too. What’s important, the AR microscope can be retrofitted into existing set ups, making it easier and cheaper for labs to benefit from this fantastic new tool. This kind of tech opens doors for many future treatments.

Telemedicine is another area which is seeing lots of development. This is particularly evident when it comes to patients who need access to high quality healthcare, but do not have the funds or logistical means of accessing it. Telemedicine has the ability to connect patients with doctors to maintain treatment, and is even being used as a tool to fight the opioid epidemic in the United States. Software drives this revolution and defines solutions that we haven’t even thought of ten years ago.

The technological developments in the industries of today are by no means a race. Society is always looking for more simplicity, inclusivity and accessibility, and it is with this in mind that businesses are working to satisfy everyone’s needs. Some areas will see improvements quicker than others, but in the end, we are all moving towards a more connected future and one that is increasingly software-defined.

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