2012 tech predictions: From IDG's editors worldwide

Consumerization of IT is the consensus choice of the new year's major technology force, one that will manifest itself in several forms

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Daniel de Blas, director, IDG TechStyle, Macworld España, and iPhoneWorld

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Most significant story of 2011 : The death of Steve Jobs has undoubtedly been the biggest story of 2011. His death could mark a turning point in the history of Apple. The company has had one success after another in recent years with Jobs at the helm, but there is no guarantee that the new Apple will continue on the same path without him. On the other hand, Apple has a chance to leave behind some of the bad habits of Jobs, like his stormy relationship with the press.

: The death of Steve Jobs has undoubtedly been the biggest story of 2011. His death could mark a turning point in the history of Apple. The company has had one success after another in recent years with Jobs at the helm, but there is no guarantee that the new Apple will continue on the same path without him. On the other hand, Apple has a chance to leave behind some of the bad habits of Jobs, like his stormy relationship with the press.

2012 crystal ball: Among the trends I most clearly see is the total disappearance of optical discs like DVDs or Blu-ray and the decline of regular hard disks in favor of solid-state memory, which is getting faster, with higher capacity, and cheaper every day. Another trend is the unstoppable decline of movie theaters. The big screen is moving to homes and we'll see growing competition among content providers like iTunes and Netflix. Game consoles are going to become media centers (with movie rentals, communications, apps, and TV on demand), and the TV manufacturers will compete to offer gaming consoles built into the TV. Finally, we will see a great popularization of cloud services for consumers and applications that work with data that are not on the device.

Ken Mingis, managing editor for news, Computerworld

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Most significant story of 2011 : The rise of social media in connection with protests worldwide. We first saw this in 2010, as protests broke out in Iran. But the use of social sites like Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube really helped shaped the course of events in the Middle East -- especially in Egypt. That's what prompted Egyptian authorities at one point to disconnect from the Internet, a stunning development when it took place. Social media allowed protesters in Egypt and other nations to keep the rest of the world informed about what they were doing, and helped shape world opinion about a number of crackdowns.

: The rise of social media in connection with protests worldwide. We first saw this in 2010, as protests broke out in Iran. But the use of social sites like Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube really helped shaped the course of events in the Middle East -- especially in Egypt. That's what prompted Egyptian authorities at one point to disconnect from the Internet, a stunning development when it took place. Social media allowed protesters in Egypt and other nations to keep the rest of the world informed about what they were doing, and helped shape world opinion about a number of crackdowns.

2012 crystal ball: We're going to see an acceleration in 2012 of a tech trend that's been bubbling along for a couple of years now: the BYOD (bring your own device to work) movement and the resulting need to manage all of these different devices. As more workers bring their own iPhones, Android smartphones, iPads, and tablets to work, IT shops are having to figure out how to support them all -- and how to keep corporate data secure in the process. Managing mobile devices is going to be an increasingly important part of what IT deals with in 2012. My prediction: It's only a matter of time before some big-name company loses important corporate data because of the failure to secure these personal devices.

Galen Gruman, 
executive editor, InfoWorld

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Most significant story of 2011 : The iPhone replacing the BlackBerry as the corporate standard mobile device, in terms of new and replacement devices. iPhones are now the top-selling smartphones in business. And the implications go far beyond an individual product's sales. First and foremost, it represents that the "consumerization of IT" phenomenon is both real and powerful. The iPhone is not an IT device, it's a user device that has enough IT-oriented capabilities to evade IT blocks against it. We'll see that same shift occur in other "bring your own tech" areas, such as Macs, cloud services, user-selected apps, Windows 8 tablets, and more in 2012. Second, the iPhone's preeminence changed the expectations and opportunities for mobile and remote workers -- the idea of a pocketable computer is now cemented, and businesses have rethought smartphones as a new kind of computing device that makes employees more productive and more capable in all sorts of new contexts.

: The iPhone replacing the BlackBerry as the corporate standard mobile device, in terms of new and replacement devices. iPhones are now the top-selling smartphones in business. And the implications go far beyond an individual product's sales. First and foremost, it represents that the "consumerization of IT" phenomenon is both real and powerful. The iPhone is not an IT device, it's a user device that has enough IT-oriented capabilities to evade IT blocks against it. We'll see that same shift occur in other "bring your own tech" areas, such as Macs, cloud services, user-selected apps, Windows 8 tablets, and more in 2012. Second, the iPhone's preeminence changed the expectations and opportunities for mobile and remote workers -- the idea of a pocketable computer is now cemented, and businesses have rethought smartphones as a new kind of computing device that makes employees more productive and more capable in all sorts of new contexts.

2012 crystal ball: I believe we'll be talking a year from now about the seismic shift in the makeup of the industry's leaders. I believe we'll see HP, Dell, Cisco, and certainly RIM greatly reduced in stature and importance. RIM may not even make it till this time next year. I don't at all believe HP or Dell will die, but they will become legacy companies that, barring a wholesale reinvention such as what IBM did to regain importance, we won't be thinking so much of. Cisco will retreat to its own legacy market, having overextended in the last two years in an attempt to be more than a niche powerhouse. On the software side, Adobe is in the same camp. EMC VMware may be as well, but I think it will be more like Cisco: not a shrinking power like Adobe but a local power that retreats to its strong niche. Microsoft will either join them or, if Windows 8 succeeds in reinventing it as a mobile-to-desktop continuum powerhouse, pull an IBM and once again be a real driver of positive technology change. Apple will still provide the key inspiration for our collective future, but Microsoft will be the bigger driver of it actually happening in terms of volume and reach.

Jason Snell, editorial director, Macworld

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Most significant story of 2011 : The death of Steve Jobs. What else could it be? Apple's rise to prominence is the biggest story in the tech industry of the past decade. Steve Jobs's companies created the first mass-produced personal computer, redefined the personal computer interface, created the idea of the computer-animated feature film, changed how we purchase and consume music, altered the telecommunications industry forever, and finally made tablet devices a success. He'll go down as perhaps the most notable person in the history of this industry, and his passing forced us all to reflect about his influence.

: The death of Steve Jobs. What else could it be? Apple's rise to prominence is the biggest story in the tech industry of the past decade. Steve Jobs's companies created the first mass-produced personal computer, redefined the personal computer interface, created the idea of the computer-animated feature film, changed how we purchase and consume music, altered the telecommunications industry forever, and finally made tablet devices a success. He'll go down as perhaps the most notable person in the history of this industry, and his passing forced us all to reflect about his influence.

2012 crystal ball: Android fracture. I think more companies will attempt to do what Amazon.com has done and use Android as a basis for products but not involve Google. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if we see a wave of Android-based tablets and smartphones from companies other than Amazon that are integrated with Amazon's media services and app store.

Radan Dolejs
, editor-in-chief
, Computerworld Czech Republic

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Most significant story of 2011 : I believe the most significant trend for this year was the rise of cloud technology, both public and private. We saw here in the Czech Republic many companies starting with this technology. Also, main telecommunication operators announced that they will open cloud services for public in the year 2012.

: I believe the most significant trend for this year was the rise of cloud technology, both public and private. We saw here in the Czech Republic many companies starting with this technology. Also, main telecommunication operators announced that they will open cloud services for public in the year 2012.

2012 crystal ball: I think the most visible trend for the year 2012 will be mobility. It will drive productivity in the enterprise. Price will be the key for the year 2012.

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