5 Hot Trends for 2009

Columns like this are a bit formulaic. I know it, you know it, yet we all read them: “10 best movies of 2008”, “10 best books of 2008”, “10 worst technologies”, and on and on. Heck, Fox Sports devotes half of its programming to those annoying Best Damn countdowns.

What most of us balk at when it comes to these lists is twofold. One, we usually disagree with many items on the lists, and, two, the writers rarely revisit them to see how they did (and, more crucially, to admit to their errors). I, for one, am going to buck that trend. Last year, I wrote 5 Hot Trends in 2008. Let’s look back and see how I did:

1. Data Leaks and IP Theft. The FEMA year-end data leak, the CEO subpoena attack, the Bank of Ireland data theft, the stolen Anheuser-Busch laptops that exposed the personal information of thousands of current and former employees—I could go on and on with this list—all prove that data leaks were a major security headache in 2008. I’m not going out on a limb when I predict that they’ll continue to be a big problem in 2009.

Result: On the money.

2. Virtualization. While virtualization didn’t hit the critical mass I thought it would, it still proved successful. The down economy should make it even more so in 2009.

Result: Fairly prescient.

3. Software as a service (SaaS). Although many are still bullish on SaaS, I’d have to chalk this one up as a miss. Yes, SaaS has great potential. No, it didn’t get major traction in 2008. With the recession in full swing now (sound like fun when you put it that way doesn’t it), SaaS should see continued growth as companies look for ways to cut overhead.

Result: Miss.

4. The Mobile Workforce. There was a lot of movement with smart phones, with the iPhone clearly driving the trend, but not much buy-in from the enterprise. My guess is that the recession will slow this trend further in 2009.

I also discussed removable storage as part of the mobile workforce, and I got this part right. Multi-GB USB drives are ubiquitous and cheap, and they’re leaving most enterprises each night with oodles of unprotected, sensitive data on them. Several security vendors in 2008 made USB encryption and policy enforcement a standard part of larger security suites, while even the Vista operating system includes some basic removable data controls.

Result: Mixed.

5. Windows Vista. I said last year that Windows Vista was a headache IT managers would put off dealing with, that Microsoft would drag its feet on making it better, and that other vendors, particularly open-source ones, would take advantage of the muddle.

All proved to be true. I also noted that this would have to be resolved sooner or later. As of now, many IT managers are still punting. They’re holding on to XP and hoping Vista will get better. Microsoft has tried to spin the Vista-backlash through annoying, reactionary commercials, but the company is also set to release the new Vista, called Windows 7. Early reports are generally positive. It’s still Vista, but it’s faster, cleaner and more stable. This could very well be the tipping point to broad adoption.

Result: Visionary! J

With 2008 out of the way, let’s project ahead for 2009:

5 Predictions for 2009

1. The recession triggers high-profile mergers and acquisitions. Let me say right off the bat that most of my predictions will touch on the lousy economy. In economist speak, the recession should “drive inefficiencies” out of the tech sector. Expect a big name acquisition or two, with behemoths buying floundering companies on the cheap. Don’t be surprised if a behemoth or two get acquired as well or has to merge with another struggling mega-corporation.