30 years of Internet growth and challenges

by Sohini Bagchi    Jan 02, 2013


Internet - the revolutionary communication and networking system, completed three decades of its existence on January 1, 2013. There is no doubt that the arrival of the World Wide Web (www), transformed the way enterprises communicate and do business. Even though the Internet came into existence 30 years ago, when all connected systems switched from using the Network Control Protocol (NCP) to the protocols known as TCP/IP, the phenomenal adoption and growth of the Internet began only in the past one decade.

In the span of time, the Internet achieved some of the key milestones. According to the Internet World Statistics, there were only 361 million Internet users in 2000, in the entire world. In 2012, the number of Internet users worldwide reached 2.27 billion, almost exactly twice what it was in 5 years ago, 1.15 billion.

From marketing and communication to networking, recruiting, outsourcing services and online transactions, today, everything enterprises and end user customers require are just a click away, thanks to the information superway. However, experts believe that there is a sharp paradox in the internet revolution as long as organizational gains are concerned.

The sharp paradox
Jeff Immelt, Chairman and CEO, GE recently wrote in a blog, “The internet has become the biggest library in the world, but global economies remain challenged. The internet can provide businesses with unprecedented data, but true insight remains contentious and change is slow.” Immelt believes that the “real opportunity for change is still ahead of us, surpassing the magnitude of the development and adoption of the medium.”

of course there have been several challenges facing Internet from time to time, one of the key concerns of the current Internet age is the security challenges. It had been an issue right from the inception of the internet and adds new dimensions to the types of threats and cybercrimes, especially with the evolution of cloud computing and other web based technologies today.

“Protecting confidential data is the key concern of an enterprise as interoperation between the various services become more complex and frequent. Securing web applications is also another big task of any CIO. At the same time, even with sophisticated firewalls and anti-malware solutions, malicious viruses, worms and trojans controlling user’s PCs and programs are an ever-present threat,” says Vishal Gupta, systems Manager, HIMS at Calcutta Medical Research Institute (CMRI).

Gupta believes that although security is the primary challenge in the internet arena, the answer lies in choosing reliable and updated security solutions and having a strong encryption system in place. There is also a growing awareness of cyber threats as businesses increasingly become dependent on the internet as the benefits of the tool outweigh the risks.

There are also a number of other challenges. Companies often find it painful to deal with the consequences of recreational Internet use. With a dramatic rise in the high-bandwidth recreational web options, with the advent of social media, peer-to-peer communication and video, managing bandwidth becomes a big challenge for the CIO. “Blocking of social media sites or a You tube cannot be a solution in the era of connectivity, because even if I stop my employees from accessing them, internet marketing and promotion would. It could mean a huge loss for the company as well,” says Rishi Agarwal, CIO and Director, Arvan Technologies.

This essentially requires stringent regulation which is not well defined by many companies until now. But CIOs should ensure that the limited bandwidth that is available should used, such that it brings greater value to the actual business, he says.

The other problem that continues is Internet backhauling. A recent report reveals that a growing number of traditional models of centralized backhauling are failing in the face of spiraling traffic amounts. With nearly 70 percent of companies using centralized backhauling, it poses serious problems in the near future.

The smarter Web
However, irrespective of the kind of challenges companies face the Internet era will continue to thrive in the days to come, posing newer opportunities and threats for the enterprise. According to a report by McKinsey & Company, The global Internet user base is expected to grow from 2,300 million users in 2011 to 2,662 million by 2015 and in India alone, Internet services and devices industry has potential to increase its contribution to up to $100 billion to the country’s GDP.

“The evolution of Internet will be triggered by the unparalleled growth of e-commerce and banking, broadband subscription, and investment in technologies like cloud, apps and websites. The advent of mobile, social and cloud will continue to drive the internet growth phenomenally,” says Gupta.

Experts are predicting that the best business ideas for 2013 will be online and the traditional brick and mortar establishment will continue to diminish. The Internet of Things is also considered as the next ICT disruption.

The future will see better technologies, solutions and concepts in internet as Immelt points out that the web will only get smarter. the information superhighway will not only help businesses reduce unexpected costs and improve operations, but will also enhance the connections between their machines – as a global network that connects people, data and machines.