As we bid farewell to 2006 and begin to see the realities of 2007 (ie, no real change), I thought I would have a look at what could change 2007 into a more interesting year in the IT space.
First, wouldn't it be great to get more IT and line of business people working together?
For this to happen we need to change the nomenclatures used, and provide enabling technologies that allow business processes to be matched with technical capabilities, and vice versa. Sounds like a job for service oriented architectures (SOA).
Second, I would like to see greater harmony within the supplier community. This is needed in many areas, but I will pick on two.
SOA springs straight to mind - a nascent market that is still massively misunderstood by those with the responsibility for buying, but where suppliers are already playing "my SOA is better than your SOA" games - and confusing everyone (often including themselves) further. How nice it would be if they would actually all pull together, create a solid market and then fight over it.
The second thing that comes to mind is to get away from the litigious nature of supplier relations at the moment - getting rid of spurious personal pension schemes such as SCO's chasing of IBM, or of patent infringement cases such as Roxio suing Nero, or Creative suing Apple.
Again, let's work in the best interests of the customers, and in making technology do what it should do - facilitate better business and easier life.
Third, I would like to see the death of the massively overpriced mobile data plan. Now that essentially no one is paying for data transfers down a wired connection, we still have to pay large amounts per megabyte when we are on the road.
Worse, even if you are on a data plan, try travelling abroad - a visit to a US hotel that was having problems with its wired system cost me more than £150 for a one-night stay recently.
All-you-can-eat data plans are coming through from the likes of 3 and T-Mobile - here's to 2007 being the end of the per-byte plan.
Fourth, I would like to see much greater use of networking at home. I want my PVR, TV, hi-fi and everything else to have an RJ45 connection to and from it, or better still, full Wi-Fi 802.11g/n, enabling me to stream content where I want it, as I want it.
With the price of tuning componentry falling to unprecedented lows (digital television tuning circuitry is available at under £10), we could look at having, say, 10 tuners in a piece of kit, enabling each person in a house to watch a different channel at the same time.
Yes, we need better codecs (the gubbins that compresses and decompresses audio and video) to shrink the data feeds, fully ratified 802.11n for fast enough Wi-Fi and some real agreement on integration, but we are getting there.
Fifth, I really want this to be the year of RFID. Yes, 2005 was meant to be, 2006 was heralded as being the real year, but I do feel that RFID will really come of age this year.
We need better education as to where RFID fits in with existing technologies (such as the humble barcode), and we need a better understanding of the difference between passive and active RFID, but I expect to see much greater uptake of RFID, along with sensor and actuator technologies as we go through 2007.
Finally, I await the "next big thing". We have been stuck for real innovation on a gross scale for many years, with SOA (which is basically a rehash of older component oriented stories) being the nearest thing in the past couple of years.
Maybe we will see Ajax (maybe as part of a full stack, such as Ruby on Rails) create a marked difference in how users interact with the internet. Maybe we will see social networking create new ways of working on a major scale (rather than the small scale instances currently in place).
Maybe we will see some major changes in the supplier landscape that will create new, innovative synergies. Here's hoping.
Oh, and yes, I do want world peace as well - it is probably just as likely to happen as some of the things mentioned above.
Clive Longbottom is service director at analyst firm Quocirca
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