trends for new times
MOHAN BABU focuses on the predictions made by Gartner analysts on the
scene in America, and believes that the same technology trends will be adopted
The first quarter
of 2003 is behind us and with the war in Iraq entering its final stages, the
focus of business leaders is slowly shifting back to the fundamentals.
Predictions from industry experts and economists are as varied as the different
aspects contributing to the current slowdown (no surprises here). On one hand,
analysts from Gartner and other consultancies are predicting that the current
short-term focus on cost-cutting will lead to higher IT costs later. These
cost-cutting pressures are leading organisations to “mortgage” their futures by
“underfunding” IT infrastructure and application upgrades today, which will cost
more in the future when the economy improves and demand for IT products and
services increases. On the other hand, analysts from the business press,
including Business Week, have adopted a more sobering tone, predicting that the
end of conflict in Iraq alone is not sufficient to give a thrust to the global
market. However, as an IT analyst and a columnist, I think it is my job to try
to make sense of the method in the madness and throw my two cents out there.
column, we will look at some of the recent predictions made by Gartner analysts:
“The market for pure portal products will wither away, particularly as
functionality is delivered in broader software categories such as application
platform suites and collaborative technologies.”
I think this
trend is already catching on in the industry, especially since most large
software vendors are already starting to bundle their own “Web GUI” a.k.a.
portal tools. Oracle, SAP, Siebel and others already either have Web-based GUIs
or provide excellent “hooks” to Web enable the applications. Given this
scenario, what is the incentive for IT managers who would have already spent a
million dollars or more on the ERP or CRM application to “invest” in an
additional Web portal?
“Radio frequency identification (RFID) tag use will sharply increase. RFID tags,
the successor technology to bar codes, can be embedded in products, scanned at a
distance and withstand high heat.”
Prices for RFID
technologies are dropping to the range of 5 to 10 cents (per tag) Such tags can
be used by retailers and manufacturers to provide after-sales information about
how, when and where products are being used by consumers. As a matter of fact,
companies like Gillette and Procter and Gamble have already ordered hundreds of
thousands of RFID tags and are in the process of experimenting with such “smart
“Public wireless LAN ‘hot spots’ will quadruple in 2003, creating widespread
connectivity for people in hotels, airports, public buildings and restaurants.
This includes a mix of free and commercial services. By 2007, the public WLAN
industry should grow to more than $9 billion in sales.”
wireless LANs are already in a growth trajectory and a number of airports and
café’s (including Starbucks) across the country are already “enabling” their
sites for customers. However, this “build it and they will come” approach
towards adoption of nascent technologies needs to be tempered with some reality,
especially given the current economy and the focus on cost. How many individuals
would spend a few thousand dollars (more than the normal cost) on a wireless
device that they only occasionally use during travel or a trip to the local
“IT as a utility will gain momentum. By 2006, 30 percent of IT work will be done
through this model, where organisations pay for storage, server and other
requirements on an as-needed basis.”
computing is Bill Gate’s dream and IBM’s biggest bet in recent years. Each of
these giants is approaching this new paradigm in their own way. Microsoft by
re-hashing (pun on C#) windows with the .NET architecture and IBM by bundling
their entire software solutions around a utility-based outsourcing model.
“Online bill payment with banks will continue its sharp growth this year.
Although only 12 percent of US bank customers do any form of online banking
today, Gartner is anticipating 50 percent growth in customer adoption by year’s
payment holds most promise for the near future. Most of us hate standing in
queues to pay bills or even licking stamps and writing checks. Online bill-pay
makes this process unobtrusive and convenient. There is another incentive, in
order to cut cost and motivate usage, many banks and financial institutions are
providing this as a free service to customers.
mentioned in this article are global and given the pace of technological
adoption in India, it won’t surprise me if IT managers in India too are thinking
on the very same lines as their American brethren. For instance, utility-based
computing holds great promise for India since most Indian companies (here I am
alluding to traditional users of IT, not IT companies) are starting with a clean
slate, not having to grapple with mammoth legacy systems. For them, adoption of
a utility model, if provided by IT vendors, will be a natural next step.