See what we were predicting long ago, pre-iPhone, pre-Social Media.
Last updated: 02/18/04
The TrendSpot site documents the top trends we think will affect business in the near to medium term. We update it monthly changing rankings, modifying descriptions, and adding new trends. A low ranking doesn’t necessarily mean the trend is unimportant, just that its impact is not immediate.
Also take a look at our Futurecasting page, which features articles on current trends from other Web sites. If you want to keep up with the latest trendy news, you can subscribe for free to the StratVantage News Summary or sign up for our CTOMentor advisory service.
Currently tracking 22 trends. Last ranked on February 18, 2004.
|On List Since
|Nanotechnology and Computing
|There have been an overwhelming number of computing-related nanotechnology announcements in recent months. See our Nanotechnology Resource directory for more information.
Researchers are close to a number of breakthroughs in nanotechnology, which is focused on atomic-level manipulation of substances. Every industry can end up being affected by these advances. For example, a company in North Carolina will sell you a virtual reality-equipped nanomanipulator for $85,000. Manufacturers have created nanotubes of carbon that are 100 times stronger than steel. And IBM has created transistors from nanotubes only 10 atoms across, promising fantastic supercomputers the size of a dime.
|RFID/Auto Product IDs
|A former dark horse trend that’s been building significant momentum over the last year since the announcement of Gillette’s planned acquisition of half a billion RFID tags, Wal-Mart’s mandate to suppliers to tag pallets pronto, and Michelin’s test of RFID-embedded car tires. Within the next 10 years, your products will be able talk to you and your appliances.
MIT’s Auto-ID project was originally sponsored by Sun, Procter & Gamble, Gillette, International Paper and the Uniform Code Council. A goal of the center is to identify technology and standards that place unique electromagnetic identification on each individual manufactured product. This, together with short-range wireless scanning technology, will replace the current UPC or bar codes. The standards and technology can enable a machine to scan and identify a product and access crucial information about it such as when and where a product was made, from where it was shipped, and how it should be handled, prepared and safely used. The result will be products that can talk to the devices in your home — like a frozen dinner that tells the microwave how to cook it, or medicine that tells the medicine cabinet to reorder. This will also revolutionize the supply chain as products can be tracked and managed throughout their life cycle.
In B2B, radio frequency labeling is already a reality, and the Holy Grail of cheap RF tags is being pursued with a vengeance. Arising from this will be all kinds of decision support applications that help you track your inventory from birth through delivery.
The downside lies in the potential privacy aspects of RFIDs. Some consumers are wary of how this tracking technology might be used for more than commerce.
|Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam!
|Will spam ruin email for all of us? Will the US Congress be able to do anything at all to stop the rise of the Viagra email? Or is the only solution a dramatic remaking of the Internet?
|This trend is on the rise due to many PDA/phone convergences, the drop in price of Palm-compatibles,and the resurgence of Windows-based PocketPCdevices, especially those with built in Wi-Fi wireless networking. Nevertheless, we’re still hearing gloomy forecasts from PDA makers.
Regardless of the OS, PDAs are increasingly being seen as an enterprise computing platform despite the dramatic decline in PDA sales — Palm declined by 9 percent, year over year, HP’s shipments fell 31 percent and Handspring’s shipments dropped 30 percent.
The rise of alternate devices will end the reign of the PC, and the PC’s demise as the center of B2B computing will have far-reaching effects. As the environment becomes more intelligent, it will become more important to be able to do business anywhere, via PDA/phone convergence, TV/PC convergence, or other, unforeseen (and unseen) convergences. This means virtual desktops accessible from anywhere and the accelerated migration of computing power and content to the network.
|Cool new phones with cameras and PDAs along with Instant Messaging, fancy ringtones, games and other services makes the cell phone business hot. Cingular’s proposed combination with AT&T Wireless will form the largest cell phone carrier, with lots of consolidation to come. On the downside, Pocket PC based phones still suck. Do you want your phone to crash in the middle of a call? How many times do you want to reboot today?
Internet access is not necessarily the killer app, but, besides voice, no one’s figured out what is. So they’re throwing everything and the kitchen sink into converged devices that cost less and less. Video Blogging might come out of the pack to take the lead.
But it will take the improvement of voice recognition and control services such as predictive text input to make wireless phones viable for B2B.
The convergence of wireless access with Personal Digital Assistants and other forms of mobile computing will finally set office workers free of the office. Ubiquitous computing will be here by the end of the decade.
|Isn’t it time for software makers to stand behind their products like other companies do? It will take some big time lawsuits to make software more reliable
|Bluetooth keeps fighting back after long struggles. The once-promising technology is now only one of the competing standards for local wireless communication between devices.
The technology spawns a new acronym: PAN (Personal Area Network). Bluetooth aims to replace all the wires that tether you to devices, such as headphones, printer cables, and PDA synch cords. Despite the release of new Bluetooth-enabled devices, this trend is still a bit shaky due to the failure of an interoperability demonstration at the recent CeBit and concerns for Bluetooth’s propensity to interfere with other wireless networking protocols. Plus, hard competition from 802.11b standard, which uses the same radio spectrum, could contribute to a lack of acceptance for Bluetooth.
|Wireless Location Services
|Wireless location services are the hot way to promote matchmaking at business networking events or luring the thirsty into Starbucks. Surprisingly, this potentially killer technology has languished over the last year, although more and more cell phones are coming with built-in GPS capabilities.
|Peer to Peer computing
|The P2P hype is over and we’re in the trough of disillusionment as companies actually try to do real work with the technology. Recently, a trend has emerged that may transform the Internet into a more peer-to-peer network. I mean, really, why do we need servers to process and send email? The IM phenomenon shows that peers can find one another just fine without gatekeepingservers.
P2P involves making use of the idle resources represented by your computer and millions like it. The typical Internet-connected computer is idle a great deal of the working day, and probably switched off at night. Peer-to-Peer (P2P) computing aims to put these idle resources to work by creating pools of processor power, disk space, and bandwidth that can be harnessed to achieve significant results.
Despite the hype deflation, P2P is an idea that has come to stay, in our opinion. More on P2P in our white papers Peer-to-Peer Computing and Business Networks: More Than Meets the Ear and The Buzz About Hive Computing. Also, we track the P2P market with our P2P for Business Directory. You can get the latest P2P news as well.
|The continuing problems of broadband providers are having in getting access to the central offices of Incumbent Local Exchange Carriers (ILECs) keeps this trend alive, and the ratification of the WiMAX standard later this year should give it a big boost.
If the ILECs aren’t careful, the providers will find other ways into the home, bypassing their lucrative local loop. Fixed wireless could be a big winner in this case. Fixed wireless involves setting up antennas on houses and running the 802.11b, WiMAX, Motorola’s Canopy or other wireless networking protocols over it to give high bandwidth access to the Internet.
|Private Exchanges/Morphing of the Extranet/Supply Chain Modernization
|The IT slowdown has cooled this trend, but we still pick it to be the hottest of the Naughties.
|Another trend clobbered by the IT slowdown, we don’t think this one is going away.
Personalization, up until now primarily a B2C phenomenon, will spread to the B2B world. Everything from the daily news feed to decision makers to customized procurement Web sites will incorporate this technology. The flip side, profiling, will finally enable B2B market research to blossom, producing a syndicated market for information on procurement preferences.
|Wireless payment service tests are multiplying, but nobody’s gotten the technology over the hump yet.
Once a Wireless Wallet standard become ubiquitous, all manner of micropayments will be made wirelessly. Nokia is testing its SmartCover service, a payment service joint development with Visa, and a secure credit card payment service with IBM.
|Web Services and UDDI (was UDDI – eBusinessStandards/Partner Vetting)
|UDDI is really about Web services, and since Web services are still more vapor than substance, it may be approaching the end of its hype cycle and entering the trough of disillusionment, when real work is actually done with the technology.
Tracked here since May 2000, and supported by Sun, IBM, Aribaand others, the Universal Description, Discovery and Integration (“UDDI”) project aims to design XML-based open standard specifications for how B2B trading partners can interoperate. The effort operates a registry that helps integrate business-to-business electronic commerce sites and Web services together. With dozens of applications and incompatible standards in B2B e-commerce today, connecting with trading partners can be difficult. The UDDI Universal Business Registry is live now, and contains information on how businesses of all sizes describe themselves and what their preferred means of doing e-commerce is. The project allows anyone to access a UDDI site from anywhere in the world via the Internet to look up all business services listed in the UDDI registry at no cost.
The rise of P2P has brought increased awareness to the importance of reputation assessment in public networks, with several writers predicting the rise of reputation servers. UDDI could morph into that space.
|Remaking the Web
|This trend encompasses all the various efforts to bring more interactivity and peerpower to the existing Internet.
Regardless of the implementation, there is a growing feeling that the Web isn’t cutting it, that it’s time for the next evolution. Some are worried that commercial interests might step in and make the New Web a proprietary, money-making solution. Others are worried that too much power will be given to decentralized, peer-to-peer interactions, circumventing centralized control of business uses. Whatever happens, it’s likely that the Internet will fragment, at least temporarily, as various competing schemes spring up with their Balkanizing plug-ins and helper applications.
|Storage on Net
|Network Attached Storage has become a huge industry, although Web-based solutions have all but disappeared.
|Internet Out of Addresses
|This trend is taking way too long to develop. With Network Address Translation, it looks like the old IPv4 networks can hold out a while longer. Look for the Quality of Service (QoS) aspects of IPv6 to drive its eventual adoption.
|With 3G networks and 802.11g – pushing wireless bandwidth higher, and Fiber-To-The-Home (FTTH) pushing the wired bandwidth, it seems we’re constantly on the verge of dramatic advancements in the average speed at which users connect to the Internet and the enterprise. What’s missing? Any coherent strategy from the shell-shocked Baby Bells and large long distance carriers.
Cable modems and DSL are becoming mass-market phenomena. This will drive down bandwidth prices for businesses as well. Fixed wireless looks to become a major player in the B2B market. By 2005, expect 4G networks running at 5 Mbps to 10 Mbps.
|A trend that is always becoming, autonomous agents may still take a year or two to become big.
|The Post-PC World
|Debuting in July 2001 at a blistering number 4, this trend has cooled. Companies are still promising that the networked refrigerator is coming soon.
|Typosquatting has faded into the background for the moment. It’s been down before, so don’t count it out.
Typosquatting is the practice of registering near-miss domain names and getting visits from unsuspecting, fat-fingered Web users. The World Intellectual Property Organization awarded Yahoo Inc. 36 domains such as “ayhoo.com” and “myahoo.com” that had been registered and used by typosquatters. A mini-trend within the trend is the growing trend of “selling clicks.” The clickstream is becoming very valuable, and the battle over look-alike and type-alike sites has just begun.
|The partnership between Microsoft and GE made the headlines in early 2002 but not a lot since.
Anyway, in the home of the future, everything will talk to everything, and you can control it all from the comfort of your easy chair, or from your computer at work, or from your cell phone on the way home in the car. Sounds great, but there is a down side: lots of opportunity for folks to obtain data about the way you live and then market their goods and services to you.
The following trends have been removed from the list because they are no longer emerging, and have either become facts or are no longer active.
|First On List
|This trend is currently off the radar screen as the hype about P2P has died down, and so have the critics, who were also quieted by the successes of P2P vendors like DataSynapse and WorldStreet.
Popular Power and Distributed Science bit the dust. InfraSearch got bought by Sun for what one analyst called “fire sale” prices. Plenty of naysayers are elbowing each other out of the way to climb on the P2P Bust bandwagon. Beware of these wagon riders as well as the curmudgeons who insist, “There’s nothing new about P2P; that’s the way the Internet started.” Also beware those who claim security and reliability problems will make P2P impractical. These people are just as wrong as the starry eyed pumpers who forecast nothing but blue sky for this new technology. The answer is likely to be in between: P2P will turn out to be a great technology for some applications, and not so great for others. It will be one of many techniques in developers’ bags of tricks. We track the P2P market with our P2P for Business Directory.
This trend was removed because it is quiescent at the moment, and not an emerging trend. It was on the list since January 2001, and was tracked for 13 months.
|Scramble for New Top Level Domain Names
|The rollout of .biz and other new top-level domain names has been more uneventful than we anticipated, with few pyrotechnic battles between trademark owners. This trend could be smoldering, but at the moment, it’s pretty low key.
A Top Level Domain (TLD) is the last part of a Web server’s name, like the .com in Yahoo.com. There a currently a handful of Generic TLDS (gTLDs), including .com, .net, and .org. The corporation that controls their use, known as ICANN, decided to add seven more gTLDs due to popular demand. They include .biz, .firm, .info, .pro, and .name.
This trend was removed because the scramble is over, although it was never a huge trend. It was on the list since February 2001, and was tracked for 2 years.
|Capital drying up
|According to GartnerGroup, this golden age of easy capital for dot coms is drying up, and capital will be scarce until 2003. We’ve certainly seen evidence of this in the dotcom crash of 2000. But I predict a resurgence in enthusiasm for B2B e-commerce enablers by the end of 2001.
This trend was removed because it is now a fact, not an emerging trend. It was on the list since July 2000, and was tracked for 9 months.
|Portal Power Wanes
|We’re already seeing the erosion of the dominance of portals, with some companies who formerly would pay for portal position now being paid by the portal to provide eyeballs. It’s the same game, but a redistribution of the power.
This trend was removed because it is now a fact, not an emerging trend. It was on the list since July 2000, and was tracked for 12 months.
|Content @ Edges
|Napster, Wrapster and other C2C technologies point to a growing trend of decentralized content, and consequently, control. If consumers ever get an enterprise-class OS (don’t hold your breath if it has to come from Microsoft), the increases in always-on bandwidth make decentralizing content feasible on the consumer scale. If the resulting technology makes its way into corporate tech, the promise of distributed computing will be fullfilled, and centralizing forces such as content aggregators, demand aggregators, catalog aggregators may be threatened. July 2000
This trend was removed because it is now a fact, not an emerging tren – witness Kazaa, Morpheus, and other filesharing services. It was on the list since July 2000, and was tracked for 12 months.