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'Digital Cohesion' Shows Promise, Security Concerns

The era of “digital cohesion,” a paradigm where advanced artificial technologies and networks are used to support mega-services that adapt to human behavior and anticipate their needs, is seen as an inevitable, positive societal change, according to Juniper Networks.

Juniper, in a new report, describes digital cohesion as taking diverse apps, platforms, services and data we use on a daily basis and enable them to work together seamlessly, securely and smartly. This paves the way for predictive, automated, network-based mega-services that adapt to user behavior, enabling better decision-making and enriching personal and business lives.

As a simple example, imagine a single service that makes suggestions for what to have for dinner. Seems basic enough, but this mega-service will take information from your health and fitness device to understand your calorie requirements and dietary restrictions. It will combine this with your cooking app to understand what food you like and then link to your calendar to know when it’s best to eat. It could also tap into your smart fridge to see what ingredients are on hand and/or use your location to determine what local stores or restaurants are available and order if appropriate.

The company’s research shows that 60% of global consumer respondents expect smart connectivity to be commonplace within five years. Another 60% of them anticipate digital cohesion will deliver ‘technology success’ through automation/control, and 51% anticipate it will deliver ‘strategic success’ through improved customer experiences.

This era is already underway: A full 91% of global senior ITDM respondents have seen an increase in the number of ‘smart’ infrastructure devices connecting to their corporate networks in the past three years.

Business respondents in the survey said that they expect digital cohesion to deliver advantages including increased productivity, improved budget efficiency, new workforce management models and business service innovation. Interestingly, the research shows that many prioritize integration and interoperability over specific features or looks.

However, despite all of the positive indicators, the first iteration of this smart-thing network (i.e.,the internet of things) has shown that data security and privacy are two potential bugbears to market development. And ultimately, trust is the game-changer for mega-service providers related to privacy and security of data.

For instance, 53% of consumers specified that security is the most important factor when selecting a new smart device, while 66% of business respondents said security/compliance is the biggest risk factor in digital cohesion. Additionally, only 25% of business respondents said they’re completely ready to trust the security in underlying networks and devices. Juniper Research shows that trust is non-negotiable for users and a thoughtful, proactive approach to security is paramount.

Both consumers and business users see their mobile devices as the portals that drive these mega-services. As a result, telecom service providers will need to re-examine the way they build and deploy their networks in order to support this era.

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