As we approach the end of the year, the inevitable onslaught of prognostications and market forecasts are coming out of every nook and cranny, giftwrapped with hope that maybe nobody will remember what predictions they made last year. Most of them are predictably cautious that whatever technology they’re referencing will show significant growth within five years.
While we can use all the positive news we can get these days, it’s also helpful to have a bracing dose of realistic insight into what won’t be the hottest tech trends since sliced nano-bread. Vince Kellen, senior consultant with Cutter Consortium, offers the following five “anti-trends” to counteract, he says, what many more bullish pundits will predict:
Anti-trend 1: Social networking will unravel. “At the risk of offending Web 2.0 enthusiasts, most firms, especially those hardest hit in this recession, consider social networking speculative and in some cases frivolous,” Kellen says. “To engage in speculation and innovation requires some staff time and some extra cash. My guess is that many of these projects have been put on hold and related staff have been reassigned or let go. Only the few strong return-on-investment (ROI) social networking and Web 2.0 projects will continue.”
Anti-trend 2: Mashups will get peeled back. “Again, speculative ROIs or projects not directly assisting with significant savings are going to be difficult for IT leaders to advance,” he says. “I see this trend sliding down the priority list in 2009. Over the next year, I don’t believe CFOs will be sold. The only good news for mashups is that costs may be small enough to avoid getting cut from the budget. However, we come back to the staff questions. Will firms have enough staff to assign to advancing mashups? I don’t think so.”
Anti-trend 3: Large-scale VoIP and unified communication implementations will be muted. According to Kellen, any company trying to save money in 2009 (which basically means everybody) will try to squeeze another year out of their old phone systems. Large-scale VoIP projects are likely to be cut from the 2009 budget. “On the other hand,” he adds, “firms that have put VoIP infrastructure in place are likely to continue to implement VoIP in 2009, since the infrastructure investment cost was sunk in 2008 or earlier.”
Anti-trend 4: Analytics and business intelligence (BI) will lose luster. Companies just implementing data warehousing and BI solutions or those firms wishing to swap out BI technologies may decide to wait a year. According to Kellen, “the data manipulation and data quality hurdles require not just capital but calories (staff). Most businesses will make do with what they have for now and choose much lower-cost alternatives for turning data into insight.”
Anti-trend 5: Aged infrastructure will stay in service longer. “More companies with way-past-their-prime architectures will attempt to coax them along for another year,” Kellen says. “This will undoubtedly make things doubly difficult as many companies, which will be carrying smaller staffs, will have to eke more time out of existing staff schedules to care for these aged beasts. Virtualization and low-end storage growth aside, many IT shops will pause and take a few breaths before funding major infrastructure changes.”