For you football (soccer as they say here in the US) fans, you’ve got to love the uncanny talent and skill (and maybe luck, too) of Paul the Octopus. He’s the eight-legged oracle who correctly picked all the World Cup 2010 matches, including the final one resulting in Spain being crowned el campeon at the quadrennial event.
I’m not Paul (nor an octopus for that matter, although my colleagues do call me interesting names from time to time), but I’ll take a stab at offering my predictions on what may unfold in 2011 on the technology side of the pitch. 2010 was pretty exciting (think iPad, Facebook, Foursquare – and the boss wants me to mention that England retaining the Ashes was pretty big, too), but 2011 portends to be at least as innovative and disruptive.
Mordor Won’t Go Away
The Lord of the Rings trilogy pitted good versus evil. This couldn’t be more apropos for technology as well. There are those who are good, and those who are bad. The latter are folks who are ever persistent in their attempts to hack computer networks in search of credit card numbers, passwords, personally identifiable information, or avenues to unleash the new virus they just created. It’s a continual game of cat-and-mouse that never seems to die. It’s like Jason of Friday the 13th fame meets Groundhog Day. Different dung, same day.
Look for these cybercriminals to continue to exploit vulnerabilities in social networks to deliver their malware. The popularity and trusted nature of users’ relationships with each other on sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter are perfect platforms for evildoers to ply their trade. Unified communications platforms like Microsoft Lync, OCS and Lotus Sametime are also ripe targets for new forms of malware, especially since many of these platforms support federation, which opens up corporate messaging systems to the outside world through IM applications (e.g., Yahoo IM and Google Talk). Because many of these communications channels operate in real-time, the spreading of malware can happen very quickly and very globally.
You didn’t think the regulatory bodies were just gonna sit around and let their respective industries run amok with respect to social media, did you? Mwha ha ha (that’s the evil laugh I’ve been practicing). The coming year (I’m furiously rubbing the crystal ball here and looking wise) will see the introduction of more regulations specific to social media and these new communications channels. It’s not just about email any more. There’s Skype, Twitter, Facebook, Google Talk, corporate IM networks, and the list goes on and on.
The financial services industry was the first to issue social media-specific guidelines, and the FDA began to hold hearings way back in 2009 to solicit opinions and advice on what to do for social media. The energy and utilities sector has FERC and NERC regulations that can be interpreted, if not explicitly, to encompass social media. Even the government, the poster child for rigidity and glacial-paced operations (oh boy, I really am going all out to get myself some form of government monitoring on this blog, aren’t I?), is starting to step up to the plate, as evidenced by the State of Florida and the US Department of Defense each releasing guidelines on social media usage and record retention. So, the trend is impacting all levels of government – local, state, and federal.
Smartphones: My New BFF
Look around everywhere, and people are texting away, playing games on the subway, or listening to some tunes on the beach – all with their smartphones. It seems everyone has an iPhone or a Droid these days, and who can blame them. These little gizmos are so loaded with features and intelligence that it’s hard to put them down, hence, BFF. It’s like having MacGyver in the palm of your hand.
From shopping to “checking in” to online dating, mobile phones have come a long way since the days of the “brick” phones. The globalization of the Internet and the rate of mobile adoption in every part of the world reflect the ongoing opportunities within this technology space. With so many business applications moving to the “cloud”, this opens up new potential markets for vendors looking to secure or manage communications via smartphones.
Partly Cloudy Forecast
We’ve already begun to see many businesses offer a hosted version of their software. Though the “cloud” concept has been around for awhile, 2011 may see a surge in customers opting for hosted solutions. With the widespread use of real-time collaboration tools, like Microsoft Lync and Cisco Webex, it’s very easy these days to hold meetings over the Web without needing to travel to a customer or partner site. This also makes it easier to accommodate remote workers, too, who may not want to travel to or live near corporate headquarters.
Especially in times where IT budgets are strapped and qualified IT professionals are difficult to recruit and retain, the cloud computing model has a compelling value proposition. When taking into consideration ROI and security enhancements, the model has more in its favor than at any time in its past. Such a confluence of factors bodes well for 2011.
Well, I’m not sure if I’ll do as well as Paul the Octopus, but, like all the World Cup participants, it’s all about soaking up the atmosphere and enjoying the ride. What are your predictions for 2011?