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Top 10 technology predictions for 2009: Deloitte

March 28, 2009

Deloitte recently came out with its TMT (telecom, media and technology) predictions for 2009. Here are some bits from the technology predictions for 2009. May I take this opportunity to thank V. Srikumar, partner, Deloitte Haskins & Sells, for sharing this study.

1. Making every electron count: the rise of the SmartGrid.
Major manufacturers and utilities should explore partnerships with, and consider acquisitions of smart energy companies, advises Deloitte. SmartGrid technologies have the potential to reduce up to 30 percent of electricity consumption and dramatically reduce the need to construct new power plants or operate environmentally harmful sources of generation. They also bring computer intelligence and networking to the electrical network. SmartGrid also allows for more efficient use of the existing infrastructure. Is there room for nuclear power? Possibly, yes!

2. Gadgets for free* (*subject to contract)
According to Deloitte, bundling products and services together may prove essential in 2009 to stimulate an otherwise nervous, stalled market. This approach may well become pervasive in 2009, and likely be extended to a wide range of devices, including TV (bundled with subscriptions), music equipment (bundled with music), and high-end computers (bundled with everything — from technical support to remote back-up services).

3. Disrupting the PC: the rise of the netbook.
Even since the introduction of the Intel Atom processos, netbooks and mobile Internet devices have gained momentum — at least, in print and web. Sony’s pocket device only adds to the glamour. According to Deloitte, the appeal of netbooks has been categorized as making ‘great second computers for normal people, third computers for techies, and the first computer for children.’ Even carriers should consider adding netbook subsidies into their current cash-flow estimates. They should also analyze the impact of wireless data usage on their networks — driven by netbooks.

4. Moore’s Law and risk.
A corollary to the famous law is applied to the falling prices for digital storage and the rise in the types and speeds of communication networks. However, these have combined to add to the corresponding risk associated with information leakage and data theft. Even a small memory stick can hold volumes of data! Companies could probably never realize that their data has gone missing or that intruders were regularly accessing their networks. Loss of analog data and need to secure analog copies should not be overlooked as well.

5. The common sense of green and lean IT.
Green IT, perhaps, the most misused IT term of this year and the past! Nevertheless, the Deloitte study, in 2009, the aggregate volume of the world’s data centers is likely to continue to grow, albeit possibly at a slower pace than in previous years. The efficiency of data centers is, however, likely to vary considerably. The latest, purpose-built data-centers should attain a power-unit effectiveness (PUE) rating of 1.2 or better. A typical enterprise data-center is likely to achieve a PUE of 2.0 or worse. Energy consumption for IT should be linked to the overall approach to energy for a company. All departments can have a role to play in making technology more efficient, by applying some common sense.

6. Downsizing the digital attic.
The ever growing danger of digital storage is the fact that users continue to assume that storage space is infinite (just as we do with our possessions). Companies should assess whether their total cost of storage is growing faster than revenues, and if so, whether this is beneficial to them and enterprises should review all aspects of digital data use and management, advises Deloitte. An option could be off-site storage. However, companies would also need to monitor both costs and regulatory implications.

7. Generic becomes the ‘IT’ brand.
In 2009, we could well find companies and consumers actively seeking out unbranded or relatively unknown technology brands on the basis that they are good enough and, more importantly, significantly cheaper! For the established brands, dropping prices may increase sales in the short-term, but might cheapen a brand’s image in the long term. How good would these alternative suppliers be? Deloitte feels that using alternative suppliers is likely to require users to become familiar with a new interface, perhaps causing a drag on productivity. Enterprises should look at approaches of minimizing this disruption, for example through the use of digital skins that mimic interfaces and appearances that users are more familiar with.

8. The digital ambulance chaser gets supercharged.
According to Deloitte, digital litigation may prove recession proof, or even counter-cyclical, in 2009. All companies involved with digital products and services should be wary of unwittingly being caught out by the legislation related to digital infractions — whether committed against a consumer, an employee, an acquisition, a partner or another business. Even technology companies should constantly monitor how consumers actually use their digital products and services and whether this may create legal issues, advises Deloitte.

9. Social networks in the enterprise: Facebook for the Fortune 500.
Again, on social networks and the enterprise. According to Deloitte, it seems as though 2009 could be the breakout year for social networks in the enterprise. Internal and external spending on social networking solutions from IT providers and carriers may approach $500 million. Social networks are likely to be considered an inexpensive solution in what is likely to be a financially constrained IT spending environment. Perhaps, telcos and IT solutions providers also need to invest in ESN and develop the expertise and credibility to deploy these solutions if or when they become more broadly adopted, and start becoming a more significant source of revenues.

10. Sinners become saints.
This is an interesting observation, where Deloitte looks at genetically modified (GM) foods. The need to feed people, coupled with the need to conserve water, is likely to prompt a re-evaluation of GM foods. Nevertheless, it advises that governments should take a lead on investigating, understanding and communicating the various solutions available for addressing the world’s key sustainability challenges. “In 2009 it may even be considered virtuous to create dishes comprising GM ingredients, packaged in plastic, in kitchens powered by nuclear fuel,” adds Deloitte.

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