Top 10 tech predictions for 2011 from IDC Canada
Global economic growth may be underperforming but Toronto-based research firm IDC Canada Ltd. says 2011 will be a rebound year for Canada, with a full recovery in 2012. Describing this as a “reversal of fortune in the Canadian ICT market,” IDC Canada’s senior vice-president of worldwide consulting and managing director Vito Mabrucco, listed his firm’s technology predictions for 2011.

1. 2011 will make or break the cloud. While the industry may have identified cloud computing as the answer to the need for cheaper flexible computing, 2011 is that critical year when businesses must make a case for the cloud, lest the last 18 months of investment fall to the wayside, said Mabrucco. The current high-level cloud speak must focus on enterprise versus small to medium-sized business needs. “So the rules of engagement are changing again and change they must if cloud momentum is to continue,” said Mabrucco.

2. Private cloud will drive infrastructure integration. As seen with vendors like Oracle Corp. buying Sun Microsystems Inc. in a quest to become an all-in-one vendor, Mabrucco said the move to private clouds will lead to converged infrastructures and vendors vying for customers in that market. “We see private cloud growing strongly in Canada through 2011,” said Mabrucco.

3. New outsourcing players. The $25 billion in contracts coming up for renewal presents a tremendous opportunity for new players. The competitive outsourcing landscape will change as new global players emerge, and contracts become shorter in length and lesser in dollar value. What mattered in the original contract won’t perhaps be as beneficial today and must be revisited. “Input from the business units will go a long way to reshape the future course in outsourcing,” said Mabrucco.

4. A new global player will make it to the top ten IT service providers. Emerging from an outsourcing heritage, new names will appear in the IT service market as U.S. market saturation shifts attention to Canada. IT decision makers will have more choice. IDC Canada predicts TATA will secure a spot in the top ten IT service providers. “So welcome to the newest cougar in town,” said Mabrucco.

5.First converged wireless and WAN data service. Responding to an IT department desire for predictable billing and integration of VPN with smart devices, a major service provider will introduce a converged wireless and wireline data service in 2011. However, while an inhibitor will be back-office network system integration, Mabrucco said the advantages are enormous. “The case for doing this now is compelling,” he said.

6. Web-based video offerings will expand. IDC Canada predicts seven per cent of the TV subscriber base will be telco IPTV, especially as many providers are making strategic acquisitions to build up their media presence.

7. Smart phones reach tipping point and become the essential device. Smart phones will account for 50 per cent of mobile phones sold in 2011, compared to 40 per cent in 2010 and 30 per cent in 2009. “The long-awaited tipping point of smart phones into the main stream is now fully underway,” said Mabrucco. Device manufacturers, such as LG, Samsung and Motorola, who embraced the Android platform and saw early success will drive this shift from feature phone to smart phone.

Looking at mobile user interface innovation, Scottsdale, Arizona-based ABI Research Ltd. expects smart phone functionality to be greatly influenced by technologies such as GPS. By 2013, 85 per cent of smart phones shipped will have GPS. “The growth of sensors in smart phones will be driven by applications such as gaming, location awareness, and augmented reality, as well as the expansion of motion-based commands,” said ABI Research senior analyst Victoria Fodale. Apple Inc.’s innovations in user interface has really driven other device makers to focus on design and development, particularly the Android-based devices, said Fodale.

8. The tablet will be the “Canadian Idol.” The year 2011 is the first full year the tablet will be available and 1.5 million are expected to ship, growing the install base to more than two million. There’s ample potential in the tablet space allowing users new capabilities instead of just being a device that will replace something they already own.

“Everyone wants one whether they know why or not,” said Mabrucco. Expect richer functionality such as USB ports and multi-tasking as competing vendors jockey for position.

9. Government interest in open government will grow. Driven by content explosion, pervasive analytics and continued initiatives by the open source and open access communities, open data will be championed by the likes of Toronto, Vancouver, London, Edmonton and others.

10. Big data challenges won’t go away. Growing popularity in social media and e-commerce, as well as greater attention to regulatory issues and e-discovery will mean a continued explosion of data that “will continue to ramp up,” said Mabrucco.

Businesses will increasingly find themselves managing large data warehouses while the traditional solutions to data management, such as deploying faster hardware, just won’t cut it anymore. IT decision makers will explore new technologies such as NoSQL databases and solid-state drives.

Follow Kathleen Lau on Twitter: @KathleenLau  

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