The coming year will be an interesting one for everything tech, and it's not going to be limited to announcements from a handful of well-funded Silicon Valley insiders. It's going to be a breakout year as technology startups continue spreading throughout the heartland, and innovations such as crowdfunding and the cloud trigger new waves of innovation. Continuing on from my first three predictions for next year, here are three more peeks around the corner.
4. Motown is finished, get over it. Traditionally considered the heart of heavy manufacturing, the Industrial Midwest has been suffering as factories downsize, automate, outsource and offshore. Rust-belt cities around the Great Lakes states continue to yearn for years gone by, when factories employed thousands of unskilled workers running three shifts around the clock. We may as well be calling for the return of elevator operators and chimney sweeps. Manufacture of cheap consumer goods and plastics has gone to Asia and South America, and it's not coming back. The fact is, we don't really need it here. Let China have it, we have bigger fish to fry. Savvy city planners in these Rust Belt towns are already gearing up to cater to all of the tech entrepreneurs that are fleeing California for more affordable digs and lower taxes. 2013 will be the year the Midwest finally gets on with life, and trades in the lunchpail and overalls for a pocket protector and laptop.
5. Indie producers get a leg up. A relative handful of movie studios dominate the big screen. About a half dozen or so gaming companies take most of the huge amount of revenue that gaming is throwing off. Publishing is still dominated by the big New York firms. Not for long, though. Digital video and easier software for video editing; new venues for game sales and platforms for ad-based revenue streams for game developers; and print-on-demand have all created an up-and-coming and very viable indie community. Suddenly, competing against Hollywood and New York has become a lot easier with a low budget. Production and even distribution is available to the masses. The only limitation is marketing; fun games, indie movies and Great American Novels can be produced and disseminated on the cheap, but you still have to tell the world that it exists. It's still hard to compete against an entrenched player with a Madison Avenue ad budget, but guerilla marketing tactics, SEO and social media are starting to make that part of the business easier for the indies, too.
6. Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) gains acceptance at startups and SMBs, but not in the enterprise. While larger corporations concerned over security policy continue to shun BYOD models in favor of providing everybody in the office with smartphones and laptops, the new rush of startup companies on limited budgets will embrace the model. The BYOD trend will be bolstered with new connectivity models that eliminate older concerns over the security of direct login to the network. Work-at-homers, travelers and telecommuters don't need to connect directly to the network for routine work; instead they will use free or inexpensive cloud-based project management tools, videoconferencing, and other collaboration utilities to create ad hoc networks and workgroups that won't touch the more sensitive parts of the corporate databases.