Next-generation browsers will supplant OS: Deloitte says

Operating systems will be supplanted by next-generation browsers that have more resiliency, more memory, and cross-platform functionality, predicts Toronto-based professional services firm Deloitte.

The operating system that most people use “is essentially an eight-bit kernel of Windows code going back to the mid-1980s,” said Duncan Stewart, director of Deloitte Canada Research. “And, the browsers that run on top of that are not terribly sophisticated.”

It’s a big deal, said Stewart, to create a browser that won’t crash, isn’t memory consumptive and works without a hitch on mobile devices. Moreover, overcoming those typical browser challenges will be a focus of technology vendors this year, he said, although adding he can’t pinpoint which among Microsoft Corp., Apple Inc., The Mozilla Foundation or Google Inc. will build that next-generation browser.

With that inevitable shift from operating system to browser, the growth of other technologies like cloud computing, software-as-a-service and open source will finally have the foundation to accelerate, said Stewart.

The coming of the robust browser was among Deloitte’s Technology, Media and Telecommunications (TMT) predictions for 2009, an annual list announced this week and based on research and input from Deloitte practitioners, clients and alumni, and industry analysts and executives.

Also among those predictions, organizations will have to “downsize the digital attic” and apply technology like content management and de-duplication, as well as tighter policies to ensure they can make sense of the plethora of corporate data that’s been accumulated.

There will be a different attitude toward data storage, said Stewart, regardless of the fact that it’s increasingly inexpensive to hoard. “No, you can’t just hit save,” he said, adding organizations must have an ability to find and store the data and enforce policies to ensure information is retained or deleted as required.

Also along the lines of content management, Deloitte predicts organizations will make a concerted effort to curb the loss of worker productivity through overloaded inboxes. Intelligent filters will be employed and staff will be trained on appropriate e-mail usage, said Stewart, but completely disconnecting from the inbox is not really an option because, “let’s face it, we live in the 21st century, you can’t just close your eyes and pretend we don’t live in era of 24/7 customer service with 15-minute expectation of turn around time,” Stewart said.

The predictions also foresee netbooks as the computing device of choice this year as the weak economy throttles spending. Desktop PCs and laptops are massively overpowered, said Stewart, referring to them as an “innovative disruption,” a term coined by Deloitte to describe product design that has grossly overshot user needs. “If you’re using it to send the odd e-mail and not using it for high-end functions, you don’t need the latest and greatest,” he said.

In the area of social networks, the prediction is that the low cost and ease of embracing Enterprise 2.0 will render organizations a faster return on investment, much sooner than what’s often observed with colossal long-term software implementations. This year, organizations will spend more on internal social networks and the tools needed to build them, said Stewart. “The nice thing about building your own wikis or Facebook for internal employees for talent retention purposes is the cost of these is minimal,” he said. “Most of these are open source tools.”

Actually, Deloitte built its own internal wiki to track the TMT predictions and how the industry is reacting to them. The implementation cost $10,000, according to Stewart, and “it already paid for itself in the first week.”

And, mobile advertising is on the rise, the firm also predicts. While it currently stands at 0.4 per cent of worldwide ads, statistics show “enormous growth,” like North America at 300 per cent and Asia between 400 and 500 per cent. “North American advertising is down 20 to 30 per cent this year,” said Stewart, “so having any ad sector up is kinda cool.”

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