Written for Unlimited Priorities and DCLnews Blog.
As 2011 fades in, it is time to look ahead and make predictions of what is anticipated for the next year. Sometimes this is called planning, sometimes guessing. My goal is to offer some educated guesses for your 2011 planning activities.
In the November issue of DCLnews Blog, I wrote a synopsis of 2010 technology pronouncements – “The Digital Forest“. That article’s last paragraph is repeated here for emphasis:
The flood of digital data will deliver more to watch, more to read, more to store and file. We have choices to make to avoid being strangled by data overload. We can all join hands, virtually, and seek wisdom as to what works best for us this month. There must be an App for that.
The digital data tsunami encircling planet Earth will grow as more content from every corner of the galaxy will be loaded onto one or many data libraries. You can choose how and where to dive into the oncoming torrent of data. It is not recommended that you find some remote mountain top and just watch the content flow accelerate.
In 2011, developers will continue their unceasing delivery of gadgets, life-changing products, life-interrupting services, and many opportunities for us to be amused or amazed or confused with how to use and/or escape from changing technology. A lot of the choosing process will have something to do with your age and how you use technology today. For the age factor, the dividing bar is set at about 35ish.
- Born before 1975, computers and other technology resources were learned as a teenager or adult as an appendage for your life
- Born after 1975, computers and other technology were part of your growing up and integrated within your life
There are lots of illustrations (have some fun and make your own lists). One of the more visible examples is the transition from film to digital photography. When picture taking required film, and then a store to print using special paper and chemicals, there was one superior film, Kodachrome. As you read this, know that Kodachrome is no longer. Kodak stopped film production in 2009. The last place to develop and print Kodachrome stopped its operations on 12/31/2010.
Things change, technology changes things with increasing velocity. Trends analyses are important to highlight what has been, what is no longer here, and what is coming.
The going forward trends begin with technologies that support increasing volumes of content and connectivity. How often one uses e-mail is another age indicator. Younger folks prefer online chats and text messaging. Facebook has supplanted Yahoo and other sites as a major communications hub. Email sent to more than one person requires inserting multiple addresses, use of ‘cc’ or ‘bcc’. Facebook and text messaging and twitter provides immediate broadcast to a large population. FB reports that it processes over four billion messages daily.
Volume use of all things technology is increasing at an ever-increasing rate. In December, IDC research issued its 2011 prediction report. The IDC report stated:
…the biggest stories of 2011 revolve around the build-out and adoption of this next dominant IT platform (in our view, the industry’s third major platform) — defined by a staggering variety of mobile devices, an expanding mobile broadband network, and cloud-based application and service delivery, with value-generating overlays of social business and pervasive analytics, generating and analyzing unprecedented volumes of information.
IDC estimates that in 2011, there will be 330 million smartphones sold worldwide and 42 million media tablets. IDC predicts that the PC-centric era will end as over half of the 2.1 billion people who regularly use the Internet will do so using non-PC devices. By mid-2012, non-PC devices capable of running software applications will outsell PCs. Demand for tablets, with Apple’s iPad still leading, will increase as the tablet platform takes off in emerging markets.
The other large growth is what is now called ‘Cloud Computing’. IDC predicts that 80 percent of new software offerings will be available as cloud services in 2011. As I discussed in the “The Digital Data Forest” the growth of content from all sources needs to be incorporated for any future business or personal planning. IDC states:
The ‘digital universe’ of information and content will expand by almost 50% — to almost 2 trillion gigabytes. Businesses are drowning in information — and still want more, creating big opportunities for ‘big data’ analytics and management.
You may be worrying about how to keep up with the constant process known as ‘change’. With technology, change will always happen. David Pogue, writer for the NY Times, said in a November 24, 2010 personal tech column:
Forget about forever—nothing lasts a year. Of the thousands of products I’ve reviewed in 10 years, only a handful are still on the market. Everybody knows that’s the way tech goes. The trick is to accept your gadget’s obsolescence at the time you buy it, so you feel no sense of loss when it’s discontinued next fall. (The other trick is to learn when that’s going to happen: new cameras in September and February, new iPods in September, new iPhones in July…)
Your Trends, Your Way
Oprah Winfrey’s new cable network, OWN, has started. With the content from many devices – Phone, Tablet, TV, et al, everyone will be able to create his/her own private networks. The preliminary name for my network is RON. It is not a rival for OWN.
Using available resources from the cable company, various internet providers, smartphones, and friends, there will be one or more networks for each person on the planet. Comcast (Xfinity) provides click through buttons on shopping sites for direct purchase over the internet connected TV. They also provide a smartphone app that allows users to directly program their at-home DVR.
This is just one example of the integration between the internet and the cable/satellite signal deliveries. Sales of DVDs and other physical storage devices will quicken their decline over the next few years. Internet TV access will enable customizing a group of networks that link together. Note that all major sports, NFL, MLB, NBA, and NHL have each created their own channels. Companies of all sizes will deliver information using video and audio through their own production or linking with entertainment providers.
Connecting with an overflowing inbox will need assistance. A new app for the iPad, Flipboard is a personalized magazine creator app that aggregates nine online media sources, grabs content from links posted such as Twitter and Facebook (including photos and video), and then presents that content in an easy-to-read, magazine-like format.
Continuing this trend, the concepts supporting social networking will expand with companies adapting to the use of social networking for brand identification, commentaries, and announcements. User support will expand with online chats and direct video calls, such as Skype provides. Professionals, lawyers, accountants, and advisors will also expand this form of client connection.
Retail sites, including eBay and Amazon, are integrating with social networks. Facebook announced that shoppers who go to Amazon.com can log into Facebook and get recommendations for purchases based on their declared tastes in music and movies. In November, eBay rolled out Group Gifts, a way for Facebook friends to chip in together for a gift. Facebook is also building analytic tools to let retailers learn more about who’s drawn to certain products. Amazon’s iPad app, Windowshop, shows images and lets users browse as if they were inside a store. Available at www.windowshop.com.
Wister.com is rolling a social style network that enables users to upload review of businesses, such as restaurants, entertainment facilities and even comments about retail and non-retail businesses. Other users can agree or disagree with comments. If a store gets a bad review, the store will have 48 hours to respond to the review. This form of sharing goes farther than just a tweet or Facebook post as the comment will be accessible by anyone on the Wister site.
Information sharing will expand exponentially. Current uses include: calendars, contacts, emails, photos, music, and the younger set’s need for sharing current actions. There are a growing variety of software to collaborate on documents, spreadsheets and other business reporting. With all device connections, collaboration will expand providing user friendly features for annotating, note insertion, and image editing. Service sites like www.basecampHQ.com, will provide even more ways to spread the information around the office and around the world.
Key mobile trends to watch in 2011 include: a lot more smartphone apps, event-based marketing, and many location based services. Wherever you are, your hand held device knows the map coordinates and the surrounding streets, buildings, and weather.
New GPS apps will integrate location with content about your past behavior or your calendar to suggest activities that may be appropriate where you are. Initially, you will have to request this information. The upgrades or premium services will support push technology and deliver content to you like an alarm clock. Retail marketing will integrate geo-targeting apps with a database of your purchase history, likes, and dates such as birthdays to make recommendations, alerting you to specific store locations. Already exiting apps, such as RedLaser, can help you locate the same products for lower prices. Future apps will have that information ready without any specific key click required.
Augmented reality is also on its way. Based on your location, you can request images and information for how the surrounding area appeared in a prior time period. Redrawing of the geography would include other buildings, no buildings, etc. depending how far back you want your reality augmented.
Handheld devices can identify, for example, when a policeman or doctor was in the vicinity and immediately alert them to an emergency. Your device will also be able to tap into video cameras around the corner, some location you are going to, or at your house. A few years ahead, this video image will be able to alert you to traffic, crowds or some other identifiable situation.
Sustainability Needs More Energy
Technology can help reduce wasted energy, space, and natural resources. New technologies are available that help organizations become more energy efficient, implement new ways to distribute goods and services in a more sustainable manner, and enable safe and renewable sources of energy. For example, in 2010, Google announced its 5 billion dollar commitment to an off shore wind farm along the Atlantic coast.
The U.S. Department of Energy is allocating funds to support the research and development of clean, reliable energy for buildings and transportation. Applicants include teams from university, industry, and national laboratories. Under the program, the grantees will conduct cost analyses for different manufacturing volumes to help gauge the near-term viability and long-term potential of new technologies.
One of the hot suppliers of alternative energy is Bloom Energy. Today, commercial electricity costs about 13 cents per kilowatt-hour. Costs with a ‘Bloom Box’ are between 8 cents and 10 cents per kilowatt-hour and break-even after installation in less than 5 years. A few of Bloom’s customers include eBay Inc., Cypress Semiconductor Corp., Adobe Systems Inc., Safeway Inc., and Wal-Mart. Replacing fossil fuel suppliers with clean and easy to maintain fuel cell boxes also eliminates any need for combustion.
Google’s web application PowerMeter, enables users and electric companies to track energy consumption. A monitor kit attaches to your electricity meter and transmits data via Wi-Fi. The web app will show how much energy is used. This application is currently being used in San Diego.
Smart meters will track electricity data with fine-grained detail. Home broadband connections opens up online electricity monitoring to a much broader base of potential customers.
Trends and You
Technology products and services are coming fast and their arrival speed is accelerating. It is not possible to keep up with trends, to know what to buy, to avoid feeling confused and late to the party. If you are feeling overwhelmed, it is O.K. to step back and ease up on yourself.
It is very important to understand and accept that these trends are coming and will not stop just because you may have worries. Identify what you, your company, and your friends are using, and do your best to stay compatible and collaborative. Hiding in a haystack will not help and the haystack will blow away. Technology will continue to expand everyone’s ability to connect with greater frequency and with a lot greater volume of information. Finding ways to best use this expansion for your benefit is a trend that you need to pursue in 2011 and beyond.
About the Author
Richard Oppenheim, CPA, blends business, technology and writing competence with a passion to help individuals and businesses get unstuck from the obstacles preventing their moving ahead. He is a member of the Unlimited Priorities team. Follow him on twitter at twitter.com/richinsight.