Wireless thrives, RFID flies, viruses multiply in 2005: Deloitte

WiFi thrives, RFID flies, viruses multiply, and VoIP (despite all its problems) survives.

Those, in a nutshell, are among the top technology trends for 2005, identified by the seers at Deloitte’s Technology, Media and Telecommunications (TMT) industry group.

A year of opportunity and challenge is how Deloitte depicts 2005…with both aspects closely interconnected.

Garry Foster, national director, TMT, Deloitte Canada described one seemingly paradoxical trend in the all important area of security.

On one hand, he said, “electronic forms of personal identification may serve to improve security”, while on the other “identity theft and other digital crimes will continue to run rampant.” He said viruses, worms and other malware (malicious software) will explode and spread to connected mobile devices, frustrating the public and costing companies billions in lost data and downtime.

“It’s a very exciting and daunting time.” is how Foster sums it up.

Although Deloitte’s predictions are global in scope, Foster said some trends have a significance for the Canadian marketplace.

He listed WiFi, RFID and security as major areas where a lot of Canadian companies are working.

Foster said while WiFi-based wireless networks are being adopted in places like hospitals and university campuses, paid WiFi connections to the Internet using one’s laptop — offered at places like Starbucks — have not been so widely embraced. He said paying for this service is not an inhibiting factor, but the complexity of connecting to WiFi hotspots in coffee houses or in airport lounges may be, as each operates on its own system.

Foster said 2005 will be a big year for RFID, adding that the technology has evolved so the chips are smaller, easier to use and more easily embedded into products.

“People are using RFID and they don’t even know it,” he said, listing Esso’s Speedpass as an example of an RFID reader.

According to Mark Quigley, research director for the Yankee Group in Ottawa, the most significant trend for the Canadian marketplace is the staying power of traditional telephone lines. He said the bulk of the global population has stayed with a public switched telephony network (PSTN) because its call quality and reliability are very high.

With VoIP, he said, its a different story.

“We are not at the point yet where we are going to see mass-market adoption [of VoIP in 2005],” said Quigley. Questions and concerns such as the security of VoIP need to be answered before adoption can occur.”

Deloitte too foretells a “roller-coaster year” for VoIP, with its “call volume and user base increasing significantly, but adoption and growth being limited by shortfalls in…quality, consistency and reliability.” It predicts many companies will opt for a hybrid approach, using VoIP for internal communications and the PSTN for external traffic.

Growth in cellular subscriptions will be yet another 2005 trend, according to Deloitte. It predicts there will be nearly two billion cellular mobile subscribers worldwide by the end of the year, with penetration in many markets exceeding 100 per cent.

Quigley agreed there’s likely to be continued growth in subscriptions, but added that market penetration in Canada for wireless services remains relatively low compared to Europe and Japan. “We finished last year at 46 to 47 per cent penetration, which means there still is a significant segment of market that carriers can go after.”

The Deloitte report indicated that segment could be in the area of phone personalization features, such as ring tones, games and text messaging. According to Quigley that trend is starting to emerge in Canada and it’s “compelling and potentially lucrative for [wireless] carriers.”

For a complete list of the top ten trends, please visit this site.

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