Technology predictions: Failures and futures

CIO Asia –

Much technology was hyped for success in 2005, but many did not deliver to the levels expected by technologists, media and industry.

The reality is that many companies are not yet mature enough in terms of process, governance and understanding of the business value of IT -- resulting in a lack of business drivers and delays in adoption.

But the fundamental reason is much simpler--despite the outwardly expressed desire to adopt such technologies, in many cases neither business nor technology is ready.

Some examples of technologies that did not live up to the hype include:

- Grid Computing--hyped by many vendors, but it is hard to find anyone actually using it in 2005. Although the concept and technologies are sound, businesses are not ready for large-scale adoption.

- Location-based services--very slow to take off despite much of the enabling technology being available. Privacy concerns and real business value are key inhibitors.

- 3G-oriented rich media applications--such as video-to-video phone calls on mobile phones has not taken off, with most using 3G phones for clearer voice calls, or to send data or e-mail to computer networks.

- OLED/eInk screens--flexible screen technology that consumes less electricity and can be bent or rolled up. Although there has been much talk and hype for many years, it seems more likely in late 2006 and beyond.

- Linux desktops--while Linux on servers continues to gain rapid market penetration, maturity of Linux on the desktop is still several years away.

This is not to say that these technologies are not in our near-term future, just that 2005 was not their year. Looking ahead however, there are several key technology trends occurring that will impact a large number of businesses in 2006.

Key behind many advancements is the consumerization of IT. Many technologies have in the past been introduced and have found acceptance in consumer markets, only to be ignored by enterprises.

If history repeats itself, we are ignoring important technologies today that will have enterprise impact in the future. Consumer technology earmarked for enterprise adoption includes 3D graphics, rich media and consumer-oriented Web sites that are emerging as platforms capable of delivering services to support business processes.

This trend is being driven faster and further in Asia Pacific, which is both the major producer of consumer technology and, in certain parts of the region, highly tech-savvy. We expect to see increasingly innovative design and business models emerge in Asia as we move along the trend line of "sold in Asia" to "made in Asia" to "designed in Asia" to "dreamt up in Asia".

Open source adoption continues to grow, competing directly with commercial software in many segments of the enterprise market and taking on an expanded role in the small-to-medium business sector.

With OSS adoption rising rapidly, particularly in China and India, Gartner believes that by 2010 it will account for 20 percent of the global software market, displacing over US$100 billion in revenues from traditional software vendors.

To cope with the increasing volume and velocity of information, organizations will need to adopt "Real Time Infrastructure," which relies extensively on virtualization, which will see growth on x86 servers in 2006.

As a result, the strategic impact of Service Oriented Architecture and Web services will continue to broaden, with increasing emphasis on business process and product vendors combining middleware with an extensive set of software-as-services and knowledge-based assets to provide composition portfolios.

Dion Wiggins is Vice President and Research Director, Gartner.

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