5 Hot Trends for 2009

I’ll go out on a limb and predict that something major will happen in the wireless space. Say, Verizon acquiring Yahoo!. Or Google acquiring a major handset maker or even a foundering carrier. Or maybe Microsoft will make some strange, head-scratcher of an acquisition that they claim will shake up the mobile space.

Whatever the case, the goal will be to make the mobile Internet experience a sticky and revenue-generating; one that appeals to a mass consumer audience.

2. Mobile gadgets under perform. While I think high-profile acquisitions will happen in the mobile space, I also believe that 2009 will be a bad year for carriers and handset vendors. People will hold on to those so-called “obsolete” handsets for longer than they would in a good economy. Features like cameras and MP3 players look superfluous to cost-conscious eyes; as will the expensive data plans linked to those features. The enterprise will drag its feet on subsidizing mobile devices for workers.

If any model is poised to take advantage of the bad economy, it’s pay-as-you-go. If the pricing gets better, the minutes last longer and the handsets themselves aren’t quite so crappy, this could be the bright spot in the mobile sector.

3. Virtualization marches on. 2009 could be the tipping point for virtualization as a mainstream technology. For a more in-depth take on this, refer to this related story on CIOUpdate’s sister site, Datamation.com. Virtualization will gain IT dollars at the expense of other technologies for one reason: cost. Technologies that require high upfront expenditures but take time to generate ROI will be put on hold, while technologies like virtualization that promise immediate cost savings will enjoy broader adoption. Virtualization will also move beyond the server to desktops and storage in 2009, while getting its feet wet with mobile desktops.

4. Social networking slows down in the enterprise. More and more enterprises are cracking down on social networking sites for two reasons. First, these are the new time-wasters in the enterprise, and many businesses already block the URLs of Facebook and MySpace. Second, even productive, work-related collaboration sites pose a risk: data leakage.

Take a look at IBM’s Many Eyes, which is a tool designed to help people visualize complex data. It’s a compelling application, but if you punch in terms like “sales” or “income,” you’ll find data that probably isn’t meant for public consumption. The enterprise will need to think about and enforce policies that rein in social networking and Web 2.0. They’ll have to start training employees on how to protect IP. They’ll need to modernize acceptable use policies, and they must deploy safeguards to protect sensitive information. That said, the biggest risk to sensitive data will continue to be one of our most common communication tools: email.

5. Technology will spark the recovery. Many analysts, including Gartner and IDC, see the economy bouncing back in 2010, at least in terms of IT spending. That may be a bit too rosy, but I do believe that technology will play a significant role in the recovery. Make no mistake about it, we’re in for more dire economic news. This is one of those once-a-century catastrophes that will fundamentally change the economy. It already has. Who would have predicted a nationalized financial sector, after all?

Look for technology to play a role in bulked up regulatory agencies. Data mining won’t just be for selling to consumers any more, but for detecting fraud and looming market troubles. Look for technology to serve as the raw material for new economic sectors, such as renewable energy. Look for it to play an even more prominent role in the changing nature of work, in how we work, what is considered work, and how we go about our working days.

Jeff Vance is the president of Sandstorm Media, a writing and marketing services firm focused on emerging technology trends. If you have ideas for future stories, contact him at mailto:[email protected] or visit http://www.sandstormmedia.net.