Warrane College UNSW | college accommodation for students at UNSW
Warrane College UNSW | college accommodation for students at UNSW

Technology expert maps future trends

Muneyb Minhazuddin giving his speech after formal dinner

Technology expert Muneyb Minhazuddin gave Warrane residents an impressive tour of the new directions that technology is taking when he spoke as the College’s special guest on Wednesday 13 March 2013.

Mr Minhazuddin who is presently is responsible for the strategy, growth and profitability at the technology company VMWare is a former employee of CSIRO and the technology company, Avaya.

During his talk on “Trends and Technologies” in the main common room, he emphasised that although Australians generated many new ideas the fruits of those ideas tend not to be realised here but go “offshore”.

“That is one of the challenges we have to look at,” he said.

He said that countries that tended to capitalise most on new innovations, “ranked not just by the sheer number of patents but who have been successful in terms of applications and grants”, were the United States, Japan, South Korea, France, Germany and Sweden. While China was good at production it had not been doing so well in terms of innovation, but was going through the process of “ramping up” its performance in this area.

The picture he presented of the most popular technology, “such as semi-conductors, electrical engineering, computer hardware, machinery and electrical products”, was drawn from a snapshot of around three years. Advances in pharmaceuticals and biomedical research, he said, tends to take place over a much longer period of time – usually around 10 years to fifteen years.

Despite the fact that Australians normally had to go overseas for funding to realise their ideas, he assured his listeners that if they came up with innovative ideas they “should still be successful”.

While in the past it had been necessary to go to a lot of conferences to keep up with what was going on in a particular areas of research, thanks to the growth of the internet, it was now possible to do this without attending any conferences.

Mr Minhazuddin stressed that many big companies were moving away from proprietary software, like that employed by the Apple corporation, to open source software like the Android operating system used extensively by Samsung.

He also emphasised that many successful companies were “disruptive” in the way they were introducing new approaches which “disrupted” the way that business had formerly been done in particular areas of the economy.

An example was the way that Apple had been a “disrupter” in the music industry, changing the way that music was distributed by introducing the iPod. They did something similar in computing and mobile phones with the iPad and iPhone.

Nevertheless, Samsung was now the leader in both of these areas because it was producing tablets and mobile phones using open source software.

“The Samsung devices run on Android which uses the power of open source which is able to produce things at no cost and is very powerful in pushing things out.”

Mr Minhazuddin assured students that they could “make a difference” with the direction that technology was taking by getting involved with open source software.

“If it is proprietary you have to work for the corporation,” he said, “but with open source you can contribute from your laptop,” he said.

Open source software was helping many ordinary people to become disruptors by asking themselves “What can I do different?”

Some examples of very successful disruptors included companies like Zynga, an online games company, Tata Motors, which manufactures the revolutionary cheap vehicle, the Tata Nano (now selling for aound $2000”, and Netflix, which has come up with a new way to distribute films over the internet.

“Disruptive innovations don’t have to rule the market,” he said, “they just have to change the market and force others to follow suit. The goal of disruptive companies is to challenge the conventional market and create a new one.”

Mr Minhazuddin encouraged his listeners to ask themselves how things could be done both differently and better.

“That is the way you can come up with good ideas,” he said. “If you don’t know if something has already been done before, google it. You can find out very quickly and then you can have some passion about it and that is very important – that can drive you through.”

[Warrane College offers more than just accommodation to students at UNSW: Details of other guest speakers are available here]