And finally…

…after much comment – from workmates, colleagues, friends and acquaintances (but not, I might add, from family members) – as to the lack of a blog of any sort, and as the peak of the blogging phenomenon apparently arrives on the collective horizon, I’ve decided to go and start one.

According to Gartner (here), and reported by a number of my favourite news sites (here, at the Register, and here, at the Inquirer, for example) the growth of blogging will finally peak at around 100 million blogs by 2007. This is part of “the Gartner top ten predictions for 2007 and beyond” – and so where better to start than at a short review of these predictions. I have to admit that I’ve been asked to report on technology trends, make market predictions and even, occasionally, present on futurology – and find the subject of trying to second guess the future as fascinating as it is frustrating.

When it comes to predictions such as this it’s important to bring your own views and opinions to bear, and in regards to objectivity, I like to recall this quote from Warren Buffett: “Forecasts usually tell us more of the forecaster than of the forecast”.

  1. Through 2009, market share for the top 10 IT outsourcers will decline to 40.0% (from 43.5% now), equalling a revenue shift of $5.4 billion: Gartner believes that as the market share for outsourcers declines (based upon current trends) there will be consolidation of outsource businesses and some closures. This is an extremely common prediction, in these circumstances, and is almost always true of maturing markets – frankly I can’t see how you could get this wrong – although it’s good to be reminded about the situation of the outsourcing market, even for those of us who are living with it’s effects everyday.
  2. Only one Asia/Pacific-based service provider will make the global top 20 through 2010: Because of the relatively small number of “global players” in consulting coming from Asia it will limit the ability of the Asian economies to grow revenue streams quickly and become global leaders. I find it really difficult to see how the Asian economies will be limited in growth – I can see them simply buying into the areas they need to, when they need to – some of them already make significant revenues from IT offshoring, and building consultancies out of these organisations is very likely, for instance, Tata & Wipro both have consultancy departments which are growing and maturing fast.
  3. Blogging and community contributors will peak in the first half of 2007: Trends in the average life span of a blogger and the current growth rate of blogs means that there are already more than 200 million ex-bloggers, therefore, the number of bloggers will peak around 100 million mark circa the first half of 2007.Although significant growth in bloggers may have slowed down, I believe it will settle down to more natural growth, plus I don’t see how this has factored in the increasing Internet population, nor the increasing world population. Growth may bottom out for a time but I would then expect there to be slow and progressive growth, much more based on the increasing number of people getting adequate access to Internet resources, fuelled by the overall growth of the world population. And that is without considering the next MySpace phenomenon, where massive expansion unexpectedly grows the overall blogging population.
  4. By 2009, corporate social responsibility (CSR) will be a higher board – and executive-level priority than regulatory compliance: regulation has become a key issue for government and the corporate world, with the aim of ensuring more-responsible behaviour. However, the need for companies to be socially responsible to their employees, customers and shareholders is growing as well. The future will see corporate boards and executives make this social dynamic a more-critical priority. Collective awareness of corporate responsibility is growing, and not purely around green issues. How corporates treat people and conduct themselves in the wider world has needed focusing on for a long time. Plus I believe that CSR will be good for businesses, related to game theory, specifically the Nash equilibrium (developed by John Nash), where choice of optimal behaviour when costs and benefits of each option depend upon the choices of other individuals. Working with a community finance charity, I know that there is already research into this area, which suggests that this is the case – this is another topic I hope to approach in the future of this blog.
  5. By the end of 2007, 75% of enterprises will be infected with undetected, financially motivated, targeted malware that evaded their traditional perimeter and host defences: the threat environment is changing — financially motivated, targeted attacks are increasing, and automated malware-generation kits allow simple creation of thousands of variants quickly — but our security processes and technologies haven’t kept up. Security in IT is an absolute arms race – and this is not going to change – but whilst money can still be made from the sector, legally in defence, and illegally in offence, we will continue to see a strong and healthy IT Security market. This is not to say anyone should be complacent, as the problems at TK-Max have just shown, we have to be rational about these issues, and approach them in a sensible manner.
  6. Vista will be the last major release of Microsoft Windows: the next generation of operating environments will be more modular and will be updated incrementally. The era of monolithic deployments of software releases is nearing an end. Microsoft will be a visible player in this movement, and the result will be more-flexible updates to Windows and a new focus on quality overall. Microsoft have always been able to move there business empire juggernaut into new areas – however they are very often not the first, nor the second , but have often manipulated the market by having the largest installed base volume – look at how slowly they embraced the Internet for one (for instance, Microsoft didn’t even make the first 100 Internet Domain Name Registrations, more here, Sun are joint eleventh, b.t.w.), but when they did it – they did it. Although there have been reports of ramp down of Windows Operating Systems staff, I very much doubt Microsoft are ready to let go of exploiting that installed base to the maximum – there are still a lot of PC users not yet connected to the Internet and they will need a distribution mechanism to support those users.
  7. By 2010, the average total cost of ownership (TCO) of new PCs will fall by 50%: the growing importance and focus on manageability, automation and reliability will provide a welcome means of differentiating PCs in a market that is increasingly commoditised. Many of the manageability and support tools will be broadly available across multiple vendors. However, vendors that can leverage these tools further and can graduate from claims of “goodness” to concrete examples of cost savings will have a market advantage. I’m finding this hard to believe: three years to see new PC TCO fall by 50%. Most people agree that the majority of cost is in systems management, and even with the expected growth in systems management tools (and the ilk), it doesn’t approach issues such as increasing functionality forcing TCO up. Nor the logistics of having staff support a distributed PC estate. Having helped manage the maintenance of a large, distributed PC estate, I know that one of my largest costs were the staff required to physically go around the buildings in question, often the PC required direct support, or for some reason would not be connected to the network (either off, broken, network / network card failure, not loading drivers, etc.). I believe that Thin Client and Ultra Thin Client (UTC) technologies like Sun’s Sun Ray, which have a centralised server model, most readily approach these issues, and that there will be an increase in the acceptance of what used to be referred to as Network Computing (NC).
  8. By 2010, 60% of the worldwide cellular population will be “trackable” via an emerging “follow-me Internet”: local regulations have arisen to protect users’ privacy, but growing demands for national safety and civil protection are relaxing some of the initial privacy limitations. Marketing incentives will also push users to forgo privacy concerns, and many other scenarios will enable outsiders to track their users. Another believable prediction, although given the fact that this is “60% of the world wide cellular population”, I feel it might imply that this will be in what used to be called the “first world”. The issue of evolved versus planned systems play into this, and we all need to think more about what the implications are, so that we can put in place the best governance model available.
  9. Through 2011, enterprises will waste $100 billion buying the wrong networking technologies and services: enterprises are missing out on opportunities to build a network that would put them at a competitive advantage. Instead, they follow outdated design practices and collectively will waste at least $100 billion in the next five years. I can well believe this prediction: having reviewed, audited, and helped close down a number of very large IT programmes, I am sadly becoming de-sensitised & acclimatised to the amounts of money which are needlessly lost, however this does not mean any of us should be dismissive about the massive amounts wasted. In fact I’m surprised it’s estimated as low as $100 billion.
  10. By 2008, nearly 50% of data centers worldwide will lack the necessary power and cooling capacity to support high-density equipment: due to higher densities of processors proliferating, problems in this area continue to grow, and although the power and cooling challenge of high-density computer equipment will persist in the short term, a convergence of innovative technologies will begin to mitigate the problem by 2010. This is a trend which I see emerging every day amongst our customers, especially those who still host out of large cities, such as London. We have field research into this area, which easily backs this claim up too. However this prediction, doesn’t appear to take innovation, such as processor multi-threading, into account: technologies like Sun’s Niagara, and Niagara 2, will have a significant impact on this area, due to the massive decrease in compute footprint. This is an area which I’ll be exploring in more detail over the next few months.

At first I’d thought my title for this post was to do with my finally getting a blog online – but I think it’s as applicable to some of the predictions above. In the next few posts I hope to be looking at the UK Government IT ecosystem, macro IT estate issues & definitions, some more about me and what I do at Sun, and maybe just a little bit about motorbikes.