2022 brought an end to lockdown and a shift towards what we knew before Covid. But last year presented a number of challenges. Will this year be better? For the mobile industry, it looks likely 2023 will be at the very least interesting. Here are a few predictions:
Reverse brain drain
The global West has been the dominant market for technology. But with the shift in digital transformation due to the lockdown, the workforce is being redistributed, both between different organisations as well as geographic locations.
Take India. As a developing nation, India has often had to align foreign and economic policy with the West. But India has roughly a sixth of the global population. Prime Minister Modi has recognised this economic potential and, over the past three years, has established a very successful program to make India a self-contained economy.
As a result, I see 2023 bringing a reverse brain drain. Given the opportunities available, especially in the technology and the telecom space, a lot of that talent which moved out of India to the likes of the US and UK is likely to move back over the coming years.
One effect of this will be that India will begin dominating the overall tech space and we will see more Indians innovating solutions for India rather than for the global West.
Other countries may also follow suit. China and African nations are key areas to look out for. With their huge populations and greater access to technology and information, China and Africa could well become the tech powerhouses of the future.
Preventing fraud will become essential
As the global technology market has grown, so too has a shadow economy of fake accounts. Robots set up fake accounts which are then served ads, draining the advertising budget with no benefit. It’s also hard to estimate the size of this shadow economy – it could already be very big.
Telecom operators play a key role in this economy. Take social media, for example. There are thousands of robots creating fake accounts, with lots of SMS being sent to activate and serve those fake accounts.
On the other side, mobile customers are receiving an unprecedented level of fraudulent phishing (or ‘smishing’ as we call it for SMS) messages with dangerous links.
To help combat these issues, a lot of organisations are currently working on more holistic, 360-degree solutions which would combine multiple data sources into a data pool to analyse and come out with intelligent identification of possible fraudulent transactions as soon as they’re triggered.
By using artificial intelligence and machine learning for fraud prevention, organisations will be able to identify patterns immediately and flag off possible situations of fraud and phishing/smishing. They can then intercept these fraudulent or spurious links, displaying a landing page where a user is notified that it’s possibly a fraudulent page, similar to the warnings users get in the likes of Google Chrome. They will also, then, be able to track and block these fraudulent accounts more quickly, making fraud much harder to commit.
Blockchain will take centre stage
Blockchain is mainly known as the technology behind cryptocurrencies. However, the blockchain is actually a distributed public ledger of information and, as such, has vast potential applications beyond cryptocurrencies; healthcare and telecom have started using blockchain in a big way to help ensure the veracity and transparency of data.
Take, for example, a cost-per-acquisition (CPA) ecosystem, where the messages from the enterprise to the end user (and vice versa) go through a lot of hoops. Enterprises need to ensure complete traceability and visibility of the entire chain, but that poses certain challenges from both a security and data privacy perspective. So, by using blockchain, organisations can ensure a better flow of information, transparency of data, and end-to-end visibility of information across all levels.
In India, there is distributed ledger technology regulation, which remains the world’s largest blockchain use case. Over 40 billion transactions every month go through the blockchain just because of this regulation in India.
So, with more regulation providing assurance for enterprises, blockchain will be increasingly used in a number of applications, such as managing end-to-end visibility of Call Detail Records (CDR) and enhancing data privacy.
Over the coming year, I expect we will see a lot more blockchain technologies out there but a bit less of a focus on digital currencies.
From a consumer level, these changes may not become obvious for a while but, for industry players, these shifts will lay the foundations for the mobile industry of the future. Understanding and preparing for these shifts will be key to not being left behind.
Anurag Aggarwal is a board member of the Mobile Ecosystem Forum, a global trade body established in 2000 and headquartered in the UK with members across the world.