Touch, Data, Cloud, Security Are Key Enterprise Words for 2012
Predictions are, by definition, iffy. But tech predictions in particular are iffy in this second decade of the fast-moving 21st century, because they often underestimate the speed of technological change.
Nevertheless, 'tis the season to make predictions for the year ahead. So, we asked several leading industry observers about their predictions for business technology in the coming year.
'Reality' Will Bite Oracle
Laura DiDio, an analyst with Information Technology Intelligence Corp., predicted that "reality is going to bite Oracle very hard" in 2012. She said the company "is going to be hitting a wall, not because of an overall weakness in the technology sector," but because Oracle has been annoying customers by "hiking prices and changing terms and conditions."
Al Hilwa, program director for applications development software at IDC, predicted that "desktop and mobile application development ecosystems will begin their convergence in 2012, as the industry marches to the release of Windows 8."
As part of that convergence, he said, next year "will mark the dawn of the touch revolution for enterprise software," because apps reworked for touch, such as new ones from Adobe, will "spur more developers to think about the truly new possibilities" now available through that kind of interaction. This will result in a move to touch, Hilwa said, that "will be the most dramatic shift in UI technologies since the move from text to GUI."
Next year also will be marked by the move toward HTML5, he predicted, with HTML5 capability for "90 percent of smartphones and tablets" by the end of the year -- although he expects that desktops will not reach an equal level of HTML5 penetration until mid- to late 2013. A key factor in increasing the installed base, he said, is Microsoft's new auto-update strategy for the Internet Explorer browser.
Platform-as-a-Service in 2012
Hilwa also predicts that platform-as-a-service, or PaaS, backends will be seen as "mainstream for consumer and mobile apps" in 2012, while enterprise app vendors will increasingly engage around PaaS "as they accommodate the needs of small- to mid-size enterprises eager to harness cloud economics."
Current Analysis' Brad Shimmin said one could often predict coming enterprise trends by looking at the consumer space, such as the move toward natural language and gestural interfaces.
But there's one 2012 direction in particular, he said, that may be gaining traction first in the enterprise -- "information foraging," part of an increasing trend by vendors to turn away from traditional filtering methods for organizing and finding corporate data. Shimmin said it's based on the idea that "scavenging for corporate data today and foraging for food on the Serengeti thousands of years ago aren't very different from one another."
He pointed to software vendor Lyzasoft, which offers a "collaborative intelligence platform," as a company that is "betting heavy upon the idea that we all leave traces of ourselves in everything we come in contact with." As an example, he said, "time spent in a file imparts importance in that file," and the resulting "informational scent" can be used by others "to more effectively locate resources that are contextually relevant."
Charles King, principal analyst at industry research firm Pund-IT, said he expected "exploding data growth" in 2012 to further drive the growth of Big Data solutions, like EMC Greenplum and IBM Netezza, as well as "massively scalable 'cloud storage' infrastructures." Finally, he envisions that the impact of social media in politics and news cycles, despite the huge attention it has already received, "is just beginning," which could result in 2012 becoming "an especially volatile year in politics."
King also said that security of data residing in the cloud, if it "is not addressed comprehensively" in the coming year, could begin to "impact the adoption of public cloud services and the evolution of hybrid clouds" consisting of internal and service provider offerings. If security issues don't disrupt the move toward cloud computing, he said, the trend of small businesses driving public cloud adoption could grow next year.
Speaking of security, Ross Rubin, executive director of connected intelligence at NPD Group, said 2012 would see Android handset vendors "making a stronger security push," given both the security needs of enterprises and various Android-related security issues that received attention in 2011, such as malware in dozens of apps in the Android Marketplace. He pointed to Motorola Mobility's acquisition this year of mobile security software and management products maker 3LM as one example.
Elsewhere in next year's mobile scene, Current Analysis' Avi Greengart said that, while a number of tablet makers are "dropping out already," in 2012 he expects to see other vendors moving forward with Windows 8 tablets.
And there's at least one tech story, Greengart predicted, that will become important next year, but the resolution is harder to forecast -- that is, "what happens with T-Mobile?" Although the AT&T merger deal has collapsed, T-Mobile parent Deutsche Telekom had been planning on spinning it off, but, he asked, will they use the multibillion-dollar no-deal fee from AT&T to invest in growing the company