When we began the celebration of the 25th anniversary of Equinix last month, it inspired us to think about everything that had changed in our industry over the last 25 years, and how digital technology will continue to evolve during the next 25 years.
In this blog, we’ve invited thought leaders from across the industry to share their own personal visions for how digital technology will evolve over the next 25 years and where and how it will influence positive change. We also asked them to consider what we need to do to close the digital divide, and make sure that the digital advancements of the future will be for the benefit of everyone, including those in traditionally under-connected countries and communities.
Bernard Marr, Award-Winning Author & Business Advisor – @BernardMarr
Without a shadow of a doubt, the forthcoming quarter of a century is poised to usher in a mélange of groundbreaking advancements in digital infrastructure, thus recalibrating the global digital landscape. Nonetheless, if one were to cherry-pick the pièce de résistance among them, it would be quantum computing. Quantum computing is not merely an incremental step; it’s an evolutionary leap! With its capacity to process astronomical amounts of data at lightning speed, it’s destined to be the backbone of breakthroughs in AI, cryptography and material sciences. Imagine solving problems that would take classical computers an eternity to crack, in mere seconds!
Helen Yu, Founder & CEO of Tignon Advisory Corp.; WSJ Best Selling Author – @YuHelenYu
The most important digital infrastructure developments of the next 25 years may include 5G, IoT expansion, AI integration, edge computing, cloud evolution, quantum computing, blockchain adoption and enhanced cybersecurity infrastructure. AI integration into domains like autonomous vehicles, healthcare, smart cities and cybersecurity will require robust infrastructure to support AI training, inference and data processing, contributing to the overall advancement of digital infrastructure.
Theodora Lau, Founder, Author & Podcast Host – @psb_dc
I believe the most important digital infrastructure development in the near future—and in the next 25 years—will be driving toward true sustainability: actively seeking ways to dramatically reduce our carbon footprint. This must take on new urgency in light of the rapid development and adoption of data-hungry technologies such as generative AI.
In our hyperconnected world, being connected is no longer a luxury. The digital infrastructure industry, along with other private and public stakeholders, must help broaden affordable connectivity and provide access to devices and skillsets, so that more people can fully participate in the digital future.
Judith Gardiner, Vice President, Growth and Emerging Markets, Equinix
Over time, the flow of data around the world will undergo significant changes owing to the deployment of cloud on-ramps, network service providers and digital media content and applications in metros that currently depend on redirecting data through digitally mature countries like the U.S., U.K., Germany and Japan.
Having digital content and applications closer to users in places such as Istanbul, Johannesburg, Lagos, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur and across Latin America will both enable the fostering of more inclusive digital economies and accelerate and facilitate digital transformation in crucial sectors like telemedicine, healthcare and education.
Global digital infrastructure companies like Equinix will help close the digital divide, but we won’t do it working alone. When we expand our global platform into a new market, we partner with service providers on the ground to make that platform accessible to customers. These local service providers know their markets well, and our role is to empower them by pairing our global reach with their local experience.
The Internet Society (ISOC) ranks the maturity of internet services in digitally immature markets through three stages of transformation: from Stage 1, with 30% or less local peering and 70% of content delivered remotely, to Stage 3, where 80% of internet content is cached and peered in-country. Stage 3 is what we’re aiming for in every market we enter.
Of course, increased connectivity alone is not enough. Affordable bandwidth and “last mile” connectivity is essential to closing the digital divide, along with getting connected devices into the hands of end users. Donating devices is one short-term way to do this, but I think we’ll also see markets adjust over time to keep up with increased demand. When a region has access to more digital applications, demand for devices will increase, which will inspire manufacturers to ramp up production, which will make devices less expensive and more widely accessible. This virtuous cycle will happen in regions throughout the world; the expansion of digital infrastructure is just the first step to help start that cycle.
Linda Grasso, CEO, DeltalogiX – @LindaGrass0
Today, digital has become an omnipresent aspect of our lives. Yet, significant disparities persist globally. How do we achieve greater inclusion and eliminate the digital divide in the future? The digital infrastructure industry can play a pivotal role by expanding internet access to underserved regions, fostering public-private partnerships for collaborative efforts, and providing digital skills training and education. Together, we can achieve meaningful change.
I’ve always believed that a connected world is a better world. It creates opportunity, reduces poverty, revolutionizes healthcare, revitalizes economies and democratizes learning. But the ability to connect though technological advancements alone is not enough. Businesses and the public sector should increase investments in training and education opportunities at very early stages—during middle school or even earlier—and focus on connecting communities that have historically received limited investment.
As we look out at the next 25 years, it is my hope we eliminate the digital divide. That we see connectivity as a basic human right. That solving this global problem becomes embedded into our collective, societal DNA.
We all need to play a role in deploying the capabilities that will help level the playing field for children and families in need. This can be done through both large-scale infrastructure deployments as well as simple things, such as investing in free broadband services and donating recycled laptops.
Learn more about the Equinix vision for the future
While we can all make educated assumptions, it’s impossible to know exactly what the future will hold. The only limit will be the creativity and innovative thinking of business and technology leaders throughout the world. At Equinix, we’ve made it our goal to give those leaders the distributed, interconnected digital infrastructure they need to help turn their ideas into reality. We’ll never stop growing and diversifying our services to help our customers prepare themselves for the changes ahead.
To learn more about the Equinix approach, read our vision paper The future of digital leadership.