The digital divide will cease to exist. In our global society, growth and wealth of economies are increasingly decided by the level of access to information. And in five years, the gap between information haves and have-nots will narrow considerably due to advances in mobile technology. There are seven billion people inhabiting the world today. In five years there will be 5.6 billion mobile devices sold – which means 80 percent of the current global population would each have a mobile device. As it becomes cheaper to own a mobile phone, people without a lot of spending power will be able to do much more than they can today. For example, in India, using speech technology and mobile devices, IBM enabled rural villagers who were illiterate to pass along information through recorded messages on their phones. With access to information that was not there before, villagers could check weather reports to help them decide when to fertilize crops, know when doctors were coming into town and find the best prices for their crops or merchandise. Growing communities will be able to use mobile technology to provide access to essential information and better serve people with new solutions and business models such as mobile commerce and remote health care.
Recently, IBM unveiled the sixth annual “IBM 5 in 5" (#ibm5in5) — a list of innovations that have the potential to change the way people work, live and interact during the next five years. The list is based on market and societal trends as well as emerging technologies from IBM’s research labs around the world that can make these transformations possible.