RealTime IT News

Top 10 Fearless Tech Forecasts for 2011 -- Part 2

Just what will the IT industry bring in 2011? The end of the year always inspires the great guessing game of the big trends lurking on the horizon, so InternetNews.com asked some of the leading tech pundits and analysts to read the tea leaves. Here is the second of a two-part series looking ahead to the major currents they expect to see take shape over the next year.

The Year of the Tablet, Supercharged by LTE

"It will be the year of the tablet, and the popularity of those devices will kill netbooks. Netbooks as we know them today will simply get lumped into the PC category. We believe tablet sales will be in the 45-50 million range in 2011, and the impact on the overall PC sector will be significant as more users come to depend on mobile devices as their primary computer.

"All of this growth won't come simply from consumers, either, as we anticipate more enterprises will also begin to adopt tablets for parts of their mobile work force.

"Expect serious competition in both the consumer and the enterprise market. Android tablets will offer competitive options to the iPad, while the BlackBerry Playbook, and perhaps some enterprise specific versions of Android tablets like the Cisco Cius will compete for enterprise mindshare.

"Because we expect a core value proposition of a tablet computer over a traditional PC to be the pervasive and continual connection to the Internet, high speed LTE will be a driving force of tablets next year for both consumers and business users."

Ben Bajarin, director at Creative Strategies.

A Big Year for Open Source

"The momentum going into the New Year is more with using the public facing social networks than the dedicated social networks designed for the enterprise. Those companies are still banging away and you can find examples of some great use cases, but IT is feeling more pressure than usual and there isn't a lot of emphasis on bringing in new internal systems. But from an outward, rather than inward, perspective, there is huge momentum for Facebook, Twitter and the like for general corporate marketing and messaging.

"Another area I see real traction is in the use of open source-based products for creating blogs and outward facing sites. It's amazing how many big sites are using WordPress and Drupal for general content management -- that's a big trend.

"I see more and more companies using the LAMP stack stuff -- that's where a lot of the action is. I see this as a big year for open source, partly because of the economic pressure companies are under, but also because some of the underlying technology has matured and companies understand the jumpstart advantage they can get, like being able to build a pretty sophisticated website relatively easily."

William F. Zachmann, president and founder, Canopus Research

The Year of the Dashboard

"My prediction for 2011 is that collaboration solutions are going to be adopted a lot slower than vendors would like as they're going to have a hard time making the ROI case to potential customers. The companies that can best leverage collaboration technology have already done it, while the next tier of companies, if you're an IT guy, you have to tie it all back to business value and how it's going to help grow revenue and shrink costs. It's great if you're in an industry that really benefits from collaboration like a consulting firm or a pharmaceutical company designing new drugs.

"This is going to be the year of the dashboard. Cisco has its Quad vision of the world, Salesforce has its own dashboard, as does Microsoft and others. By the end of the year, any enterprise software vendor worth its salt is going to be doing the same thing. But the question in my mind is whether there really can be a single dashboard or do they really need to be customized by role? Also, right now all the vendors are playing nice with open APIs, but as the competition increases and these companies make a play to be the sole dashboard provider, I think it's going to get ugly.

"It's also going to be an interesting year in the collaboration space. Mobile devices are pushing collaboration solutions out to more of an anytime, anywhere paradigm, but there are some serious management issues with these tablets that IT is going to be wrestling next year."

Maribel Lopez, principal analyst, Lopez Research.

Specific Cloud Opportunities

"In 2011 cloud-based solutions for collaboration will gain more features for supporting social media interactions and mobile users. As they did with outsourcing, companies will stop reeling back and forth between "everything in the cloud" and "nothing in the cloud," [and move] to identifying specific opportunities where cloud-based solutions will deliver business value and for integrating those solutions into incumbent environments. Chatter and Citrix Online's GoToMeeting for iPad are just two examples of where cloud computing is heading.

"There will also be greater demand from users for cloud-based solutions for integrating and managing multiple cloud-based services with one another and with incumbent premises-based tools."

Michael Dortch, principal analyst, DortchOnIT

The Big Pico Projector Payoff

"In 2011, we will see the arrival by storm of the teeny-weeny-micro-pico projector. It will fit in the palm of your hand and project an image to fill a six-foot screen. It will also become BFF with your smartphone. This will become so big, in fact, that I expect the next iteration of the iPhone to include built-in projection, capable of casting a 12-inch image -- perfect for two or three teens to gather to watch an episode of Jackass, or a road warrior, marketing honcho to easily review a presentation."

Presentations expert Rick Altman, author of Why Most PowerPoint Presentations Suck.

David Needle is the West Coast bureau chief at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.