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Technology trends for 2009

Technology predictions from TMT Trends 2009 series


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The technology sector is expected to be buffeted by grueling macroeconomic conditions in the year to come. But we should not forget that the need for the technology sector to deliver cost efficiencies, drive productivity improvements and provide the foundation for new products and services remains as vital as ever. In short, while global growth may be cyclical, the need for technology is, and will remain, constant.

Disrupting the PC: the rise of the netbook

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In 2009 the momentum behind netbooks should grow, with new models offering better processors and improved hard drives. Although netbooks have the potential to threaten PC and other sub-sectors' margins, careful market development and expanded applications offer significant opportunities as well. PC manufacturers should consider the market for premium netbooks, with producers of operating systems developing products designed specifically for netbooks. Other technology companies should take advantage of the inexpensive low-power central processing units (CPU) of netbooks, with home-media systems, digital video recorders, and games consoles capitalizing on the new CPUs. Already wireless carriers are looking to subsidize netbooks as a way to lock in wireless data subscribers. And netbooks can be used by office workers instead of conventional PCs and even replace field force workers's clipboards or PDAs.

The common sense of green and lean IT

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In 2009, the outlook for energy remains uncertain and organizations should consider as many options as possible for reducing consumption. One source of ready savings is data centers. If housed in facilities originally designed for humans, data centers should be reconfigured to reflect the needs of machines. A difference of just one degree could have a significant impact on the cost of cooling. Analyzing any forms of power loss could also reveal significant and easily remediable problems. An underperforming power supply could leak over 10 percent of power before it even enters the building. Poorly positioned vents or misdirected cool air wastes energy as well. Companies may even want to consider outsourcing data centers, using facilities with the latest and most efficient technology. But the optimal approach could be to simply cap the size of data centers rather than assuming their inexorable expansion.

Generic becomes the ‘it’ brand

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In today's uncertain economy, a brand that once stood for quality, reliability, and even desirability may now only represent an extravagance. In 2009, companies are likely to become more willing to try out cheaper, unbranded alternatives in attempt to cut costs. But enterprises considering changing suppliers should be sure to undertake a medium-term cost benefit analysis. Using new suppliers can require users to learn a new interface, causing a drag on productivity. Technology device manufacturers should consider how the impact of branding changes in an economic downturn. Manufacturers may need to develop low-cost or generic brands. Premium brands, however, may simply choose to suffer a near-term slump in sales, as dropping prices may cheapen its image in the long run.

Other technology trends

Making every electron count: the rise of the SmartGrid
In 2009, electricity is expected to account for over 16 percent of all energy used. However, the average efficiency of the world's legacy electricity grids is around only 33 percent. Enter SmartGrid technologies. SmartGrid companies add computer intelligence and networking to existing electrical grids, yielding a consumption savings of up to 30 percent.
Gadgets for free!* (*subject to contract)
With plummeting consumer spending on high ticket-price goods, bundling products and services for such devices as televisions and computers may help stimulate a stalled market in 2009.
Moore's Law and risk
In 2009, over a billion items of personal data may be lost or stolen, due to the proliferation of memory sticks, MP3 players, and the disposal of equipment with valuable information. Companies need to acknowledge this new reality and take precautions.
Downsizing the digital attic
The falling price of digital storage has caused file management to become reckless at many enterprises. If storage space costs next to nothing, then next to nothing is discarded. But while digital storage has become cheaper, the cost of facilities and labor that service storage has risen.
The digital ambulance chaser gets supercharged
Digital litigation may prove recession proof, or even counter-cyclical, in 2009. The economic outlook may make companies and individuals especially aggressive in their pursuit of such issues as copyright infringement, digital ownership rights by country and industry, as well as worker health and consumer satisfaction.
Social networks in the enterprise: Facebook for the Fortune 500
It looks as though 2009 will be the breakout year for social networks in the enterprise. Large IT companies are planning on spending significant dollars in 2009 on social network applications and are building research centers that focus exclusively on enterprise social networking (ESN).
Sinners become saints
The formerly vilified nuclear power is forecast to grow by 1.3 percent in 2009, now perceived as a required source of power in many developed countries. Likewise, regulations prohibiting GM may be rescinded to help feed populations as well as conserve water. So if sinners are regarded more positively in 2009, will some “saintly” approaches become tainted?

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