Seismic shift on the horizon for big tech
From competition to regulation, the tech giants are rarely out of the headlines, but their days of dominance could be numbered.
According to a panel held during Capacity Asia this week, there is a "seismic shift" on the horizon to 2025 as new players emerge in new sectors and the incumbent tech giants are forced to divest business units.
Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, Google and Amazon have rarely been out of the news this year, as the world's dependence on their technology has increased. However, anti-trust and anti-competition hearings are underway in several jurisdictions.
Digital Realty CEO, Bill Stein, said: "Don't underestimate the fact that the size of these companies could create political pressure regardless of who has won the US election, to be reduced in size. Much like the old AT&T and how it was forced to divest, I think we could see some divestiture action over the near term – three or five years – as the DoJ goes to work."
Stein was joined on the panel by Dan Caruso, MD of Caruso Ventures; Keri Gilder, CEO, Colt Technology Services; and Bevan Slattery, entrepreneur, chair of FiberSense and founder of Sub.co.
In his outlook, Slattery said the EU would likely play a larger role and that it was likely the companies would be broken up. " It's very difficult for others to catch up," he continued.
Highlighting his point, Slattery said in the cloud market the industry is now at a point where it would be " difficult for people to challenge the large providers in cloud" and that "in some ways the cloud race has already been won, particularly the first leg of it".
However, on the future he said the next big players will emerge from data and AI.
"The next race to be run will be in true, true big data and AI. I think that's where the next group of people are going to come from. If anyone is going to challenge [them] it is going to be AI.
"If anybody is going to [compete] and take the challenge further, it is going to be those who have a massive amount of data and they can put that AI in and hone the AI more and more," Slattery said.
For Caruso, driven by demand in the logistics industry, autonomous vehicles could also force a similar shift.
He said: "One of the technology changes that will be most accelerated by what just happened is autonomous vehicles and it is probably for a different reason to what we have previously thought.
"We need them to drive us around, that's how we thought about it two years ago but now they are part of the logistics process and supply chain in terms of moving goods from central places to where people and businesses are, without having drivers to drive them around.
"The seismic shift is coming…When it comes to the level of autonomy and moving information around and logistics becoming automated, I think that is what is going to drive 5G and other wireless deployments."
Sharing Colt's strategy for the next phase of infrastructure development, Gilder said an opportunity existed for traditional connectivity providers to collaborate with emerging providers, including OTTs.
"The question I have is how do we build the ecosystem together?
"The reality is we will not be able to do it alone. We weren't able to build the internet alone and we won't be able to build this digital infrastructure lone either. It is going to take some partnering and channel work to get the APIs, to get the on-demand service and these types of truly cutting edge capabilities and at a point where the enterprise truly feels that we, as data centre companies and telecoms providers, are critical infrastructure in that economic environment just like we were during the pandemic."