2011: My Top Five Predictions for Technology
For many years, I started the New Year with a “top 10” list of network predictions. Call it the Twitter effect, or even the Charles Barkley/Dwyane Wade/T-Mobile “who’s in your five” effect , this year I am coming in with “my 5.”
Prediction 1: The Battle for the Cloud is really about the next generation business OS – Much of the debate over the cloud is about competing architectures or proposals for either a) the infrastructure stack or b) a class of applications delivered on or off-premise. Another way to look at the cloud is the “run-time” OS that supports a range of applications and business processes. It could be Linux, Windows or a range of software engines, but when the (virtual) applications are delivered from virtual infrastructure, from the cloud, the rules of the technology industry are being re-written.
Prediction 2: Networked Technology Economics are Paramount – Traditionally, IT was seen as a cost structure in support of the business (or public sector) service delivery. Increasingly, technology is part of the product, thus the actual cost of the product/service is in flux. One clear example of this occurred in the past few years in the music industry. More recently, the movie rental industry demonstrated this (whereby video streaming is replacing bricks and mortar). Prediction within prediction: if a product or service can be delivered faster and more efficiently across a network, it will become the dominant delivery or consumption model within 5 years.
Prediction 3: Books go the way of music – There are two key drivers in the book industry today: pressure on the physical retail environments from eCommerce providers like Amazon as well as what we saw during the much of the holiday shopping season: an increased array of eBook readers, including a 3rd generation Kindle from Amazon, the BeBook Neo, The Barnes & Noble Nook, and the Sony Reader. Both of these trends are driving dramatic change in the availability, consumption and economics of our reading matter.
Prediction 4: Consumer Experience for Business – For decades, technology migrated from the office to the home: video recorders, computers, printers, Internet access, email and many other commonplace fruits of applied science started in the working world and eventually followed us through the front door on the return commute. Today, mobile and web-based applications, and simple, easy-to-use technologies like Cisco’s own Flip video camcorder are changing our expectations of how IT works. Shoppers walk into stores with more powerful devices and apps than the retail associates trying to help them. Expect business users to demand migration of consumer experiences to the workplace.
Prediction 5: Cohen’s Unified Technology Theory of Coffee Price Increases – A little over 14 years ago, Tom Friedman, in his column in the New York Times, posited an early version of his “Golden Arches Theory of Conflict Prevention.” Tom noted: “when a country reaches a certain level of economic development, when it has a middle class big enough to support a McDonald’s, it becomes a McDonald’s country, and people in McDonald’s countries don’t like to fight wars; they like to wait in line for burgers.”
Here is my corollary theory: coffee prices will increase in those countries where a larger percentage of the economy is dependent on high technology industries and is growing faster than other nations. A recent report issued by Chinese Academy of Social Sciences predicted uneven growth around the world, with mixed performance in many developed economies and strong economic growth in many developing countries.
Countries such as India, China, Brazil and Indonesia are on the rise and so is coffee consumption in those nations. Indeed urbanization – with its associated acceleration of technology production and consumption – is directly related to coffee consumption.
Of my 5 predictions, I am most confident about the last! Also, to see an excellent set of predictions for IT and the Education sector, check out the top 10 of my colleague Lev Gonick, CIO of Case Western Reserve University.
Happy New Year.