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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.

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44 Comments.


  1. John Earnhardt

    Alan, very interesting analysis here. I especially like the correlation between Friedman’s McDonald’s theory with the rise of coffee consumption in networked economies.

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  2. True, number 5 makes a lot of sense, but I also found number 4 fascinating, especially “Shoppers walk into stores…”

    Great article!

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  3. Very nice posting and infos about Predictions for Technology mr Alan. Thanks for sharing..

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  4. a very good article, i like the coment of john earnhardt, very interesting!

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  5. Regarding “Prediction 3: Books go the way of music,” I agree this will be a big change in 2011. I feel that the transition may be a bit slower than how it was for music and since there are some strong book fans who love to have actual books in hand while reading. But, definitely this transition is happening quickly as quality of e-books/kindles is improving very fast!

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  6. I believe that network technology will thrive ditahun 2011. this is due to rampant crime via the Internet such as hacking

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  7. Nice analysis…
    I will wait to see how PC tablet and ebook reader get rid a conventional book..

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  8. Because coffee is luxury goods the theory is nothing new.

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  9. well i found Prediction 5 pretty interesting

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  10. I think Prediction 3: Books go the way of music..

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  11. Peter Granger

    I can go along with those – specially the coffee one! Partly because most people don’t realize that coffee if the 2nd most traded commodity after oil, so it’s probably an underestimated economic indicator. Despite being a new US Citizen I’m still a tea drinker myself. Though tea itself seems to be more of a political indicator these days. No change there since the 1700s when the early colonials protested the tax on tea and threw it into the water. Talking taxes, I predict that John Chambers’s ideas on taxation of repatriated overseas profits will gain some traction in 2011. I also predict that some things will remain unpredictable. Like the 4.1 earthquake we experienced in San Jose just a couple of hours ago whilst I was reading Alan’s blog!

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  12. Waw,,, Good analysis,
    if that will happen is good :D

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  13. I agree totally with #3… everyone had a kindle or Ipad now

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  14. On #5, which is the cause and which the reaction? Do coffee prices go up as more of the economy is devoted to tech, or does tech activity go up as people drink more coffee? Hmmm…

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  15. Cloud, tech poulism, e-readers – all make sense even without the expected Cisco nod to video! Coffee is a new one, perhaps we’ll have to find a place for that in our global econometric models!
    The e-reader phenomenon really hit home in our house – our girls who usually have a list of books they want for Christmas just wanted ‘a Kindle’ this year.
    I think tech populism is the biggest trend and plays into all the rest – look forward to more discussions this year, perhapsover a cup of coffee to fuel the US IT economy!

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  16. we will wait new Technology 2011

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  17. Nice analysis you have, I think some of the networked technology will increase in a huge amount in the next few decades. So, i’m seeking for your good review again. Thank you.

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  18. I would be really surprised if books follow the way of music within the next years… there will be lots of time before people get used to clic instead of turning pages. But maybe it’s a question of time only.

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  19. I wonder where technology might bring say 50 years.. might be a very big change for the whole world..

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  20. this is the right and correct word that the cloud run is mainly for the next generation. so in this highly competitive world these five important points are really a healthy one the internet cloud world. this is a good analysis . thanks for this nice one.

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  21. Very interesting read, the Cloud will become a more popular product IMO.

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  22. Thank you for these reflections and conclusions. Especially about bisiness applications, and the migration of consumer experiences to the workplace. May be, there are some more tips to discuss?

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  23. A very interesting read. What resonated most with me is the progression of the consumer as it relates to technology.

    My company specializes in the area of ecommerce optimization and helps businesses better server consumers. In polling and surveys, without a doubt, the mobile expectations have drastically exceeded any other type of technology. With the advent of the Ipad, when will we not be connected? More and more retail executives are trying to bridge this gap between mobile, web, and brick and mortar – and then ones who do will be the leaders in the new world of retail.

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  24. I’m 34, I love computers, I run blogs, I’m a little nerdy, I love gaming – and I will ignore ebook-readers for the rest of my life. Because I love paper books.

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  25. I think the consumer technology filtering through into business is going to be a really interesting trend to follow. The number of small to medium sized businesses using outdated technology to work is ridiculous when compared to the setups that most teenagers have both at home and on the move. As more and more of these kids move into the workforce they’re going to expect to be able to work with tools similar to the tools they work with at home.

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  26. Very interesting analysis.

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  27. I’m whole heartedly agree with “Prediction 3: Books go the way of music”. with the launching of google books a few weeks ago, this is becoming more of a reality.

    It’s time academia (Colleges, Universities) take advantage of the digital age. It’s funny how schools are supposed to educate our kids but always behind in technology. My university for instance, still have shelves over shelves worth of books.

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  28. Very interesting comparison between China, Brazil and Indonesia and the subsequent rise in coffee consumption in those countries, thats a solid prediction right there Alan.

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  29. This is going to be an interesting one to watch for. Hope you will give us an update with regards to this.

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  30. nice predictions. thanks !

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  31. Sad to see, but the book is on the way out. I for one wont be buying a Kindle but I know im in the minority. Thats life!!

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  32. I think the biggest question with cloud computing is if it will stick around. I have talked to several IT and they are all skeptical of security. Maybe one big mishap, and the industry is doomed.

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  33. Great predictions, the comparisons hold a lot of value. I agree with the kindle prediction especially! syracuse web design
    brooklyn web design

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  34. Very nice posting and infos about Predictions for Technology mr Alan. Thanks for sharing..

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  35. Very interesting the Prediction 3, and I believe in that too

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  36. Nice analysis – I agree in most points but no. 3 im not so sure about, in the long run i think a real book cant be substituted with a tablet. Atleast it will take many years before it happens

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  37. Your analysis seems interesting a lot………….

    3rd one has doubt(s)…..

    Thanks for sharing

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  38. Alan Cohen

    Folks, thanks for all the input. Let me respond to a few of the comments.

    Jeff, I think economic development and urbanization are the key drivers. As “middle classes” form, global markets (and global tastes) emerge. Also urban concentration makes the procurement of goods from around the world easier from a supply chain perspective. It is also easier to be connected to broadband in cities rather than rural areas.

    Henry, I am always happy to pay for the coffee when I see you.

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  39. Prediction 3 is great. I agree books should go the way of music. Would be saving trees,money,time. Got a sony ebook reader myself and I love it :-)

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  40. That McDonalds theory has fallen apart many times in the last 10 years. Serbia was the first McDonalds country to go to war I think.

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  41. The question is, what is the future of IT here in America if the middle class keeps disapearing? Poor poeple will look for food, clothing and shelter before investing any money in anything IT related, and that class seems to be getting bigger here in the US.

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  42. Mobile is the future. that is where everyone wants to go. anytime, any place.

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  43. I notice that Bookify has been registered, can we expect to see an unlimited book subscription site?

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  44. Very well Alen!
    I especially enjoyed your last one forecast ‘Cohen’s Unified Technology Theory of Coffee Price Increases’. You are very smart to find out relationship between coffee and work. By the way Tea is more popular then Coffee at least in South Asia. Means local market dynamic are also important to consider but overall you are right.

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