IT directors lack a systematic approach for tracking new technology and often fail to spot the software and hardware that could give their organisation an edge over rivals, independent futures consultant Tim Rea told delegates at the CityIT forum.
"The transition from the present to the future is ad hoc and outmoded," said Rea. He added that IT directors and other executives have become sceptical about the overblown claims made for new technology and as a result they are missing out on emerging technologies that could help their businesses.
IT directors should view technology from five perspectives, he said:
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- Old technology applied in a new way (such as security)
- Minor developments with a disproportionate impact (enhancements to networks)
- Technology that is always on the horizon (biometrics)
- Steadily evolving technology that can surprise (storage)
- New, disruptive technology (quantum computing and quantum cryptography) that can change working patterns.
The technology that will have the biggest impact this century will be quantum computing and quantum cryptography, which is set to move out of the labs by about 2006, Rea said.
"Quantum cryptography [which produces unbreakable code using the principles of quantum mechanics] is very close to being here now in specialist applications," he said. "In 12 months we will see point-to-point applications in commercial systems."
However, Rea said the bulk of business application activity in quantum technology would not be until 2010 to 2025.
Other technologies to watch include biometrics, holographic storage, geographical positioning, voice over IP and contactless card technology, Rea added