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10 IT-related predictions for 2011

Nancy Weil | Dec. 21, 2010
Tablets will abound, long-rumored mergers will happen, real cyberwarfare will occur and perhaps a major CEO will exit

So, any company that fails to leverage connectivity as a "core utility" is going to find that their product is "toast," says Dale Calder the CEO of Axeda, which provides software and services in the machine-to-machine space. "Any industry that touches something that a consumer interacts with, they're going to have to figure out how to leverage connectivity." 2011 will mark the turning point for those that have it figured out and those that don't.

Going social

Social media will hit a maturation stage in 2011 so that (inane) Twitter posts of celebrities and (inane) Facebook updates will be supplanted by more worthy uses, such as the recent launch of The Giving Effect, a site that uses social media to help spread the word about charities and their donors. By year's end, it will be rare to find a nonprofit organization whose home page does not prominently display links to Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. The same will occur with for-profit enterprises and their management teams, who will get over concerns about having a social-media presence.

On the less savory side (at least from our perspective), Facebook, Zynga and social-media powerhouses will increasingly find ways to use our data to their advantage, with predictable privacy issues continuing to haunt Facebook in particular.

After all, it's not only because people like to waste time growing corn online that induces 50 million Internet users to play FarmVille. "They're constantly mining that data to encourage you to play the game," says Vrionis about Zynga. Social-media companies "will get more and more efficient at this." Beware of such efficiency "improvements" throughout 2011, coupled with growing acceptance of such (mis)uses of personal data. In other words, resistance is futile.

Congress takes a tech break

The U.S. Congress will not pass any important tech-related legislation, as severe legislative gridlock takes hold. Meanwhile, the Federal Communications Commission, having forged ahead on net neutrality rulemaking, will be sued by at least one midlevel ISP, backed by conservative groups that want the government to keep its hands off the Internet.

This year's CEO prediction

From out on the proverbial limb, we predict that Steve Ballmer will leave his job as Microsoft CEO. Pressure from shareholders as well as his recent big sell-off of Microsoft stock lead us to believe that 2011 will be the year.


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