In five years time companies will be able to capture 30 times more data about their customers, due to online tracking and embedded sensors, Gartner Group predicted.
But the company also warned that the revolution in data capture raises major privacy and legal issues for companies...
to grapple with.
By 2010 some 70% of the population in developed nations will spend 10 times longer interacting with people in the e-world than in the physical one, according to Gartner's predictions.
The successful companies of the future, Gartner argued, must grasp the needs of customers and employees interacting in virtual communities, dubbed the "always-on" environment.
But they must also ensure their customer-tracking technology remains within legal and civil liberty boundaries, Gartner urged.
According to Alexander Linden, senior analyst at Gartner, "The always-on environment with the growth of targeted and relevant information means people's attention will be a scarce commodity."
He added, "Only by redesigning their businesses and by totally rethinking their processes and consumer models will companies harness the full benefit of customer tracking technology. The key issue is shifting from what is technically feasible to what is socially and legally permissible," he said.
"Those who fail to address privacy implications when evaluating customer-facing technologies risk seeing the entirety of their IT strategies derailed."