Last year I made 14 predictions on what I thought might transpire in the world of technology in 2010.
So, what do I think is in store for us in 2011? Here is goes…
1. The Kanban Influence: Last year I predicted that Lean Software Engineering will become a first class citizen. I was wrong; however, some Lean principles have been emerging in the form of Kanban. David Anderson is absolutely pioneering this wave, and I believe that the influence of Kanban will make its way deeper into the world of agile software development this year. More and more tools will provide for continuous flow and limited work in progress mindsets and will invest in visualization of flow and value. I also think that this trend will work itself into business management as well. I’m starting to see more and more references to “kanban” styles of thinking versus “scrum styles of thinking” in the world of business management. One can only hope that continuous flow, a focus on waste reduction and value production catches on.
2. Digital Entertainment Crossing the Chasm: This year I purchased an Apple TV. It has already changed how I consume digital entertainment. I use it to show pictures, watch movies and TV shows on demand, access Netflix (for a wider range of on demand entertainment), play music from any device. Coupled with my iPad and my iPhone, the way I engage digital entertainment has completely changed this year. Of course, we’re seeing the same movement with Google (with Google TV) and with Microsoft as well – although both need to focus more on simplicity and seamless use (I have spent hours trying to configure my Xbox and Microsoft Media Center in the past with very poor results) – however, as Microsoft and Google are obviously both pushing more consumer devices, digital entertainment will go through yet another evolution – as competition will breed even more innovation. Microsoft could take a bigger lead in this area if they focus on the Xbox as the platform for this, even more than what they are doing today (they do need to make it smaller and quieter in my opinion first).
3. Many App Stores: Today we have an app store for Apple mobile devices (iPad, iPhone, iTouch, etc) as well as for Google’s Android and Microsoft Windows Phone 7. Apple is racing to complete its more generic app store to support its entire personal computing platform, and there is hope that there will be an app store for Apple TV. We’re going to see more and more app stores everywhere this year. Everyone will have an app store or some form of app store mentality. Some will implement it correctly, some won’t – but I’m sure “app store” will be a big buzz word this year across all platforms, devices and vendors.
4. Kinecting with your PC: In my opinion Kinect is the coolest thing Microsoft has ever produced, making use of cameras to allow for a new way of interacting with computers. It’s totally StarTrek – and in my opinion.. that’s a good thing. Today, the Kinect is limited to the Xbox 360 – this year, we’re going to see the Kinect (or similar devices) explode into the world of PC’s. We’re going to see a huge amount of innovation come from this new type of technology. I also believe that Kinect will spark a wave of competition in the industry that will drive out even greater amounts of innovation – bringing us a brave new world of human / computer interaction. Once this happens, I can see laptop computers, TV’s, and monitors having built in Kinect style sensors – and online collaboration tools such as Skype, Messenger, etc to make heavy use of this technology to broadcast our avatar (always good looking, slim, and tall in my case) versus actual high bandwidth video (which I’m not guaranteed to be good looking, slim or tall).
5. Office 365: In a race to control costs, reduce investment, and obtain IT services on demand Microsoft Office 365 will explode across business in North America and some parts of Europe. Office 365 seems to be a real winning formula, having experienced other failed attempts to get an office in the cloud from Microsoft in the past. Office 365 may not be for everyone, but providing turnkey solutions for Microsoft Office, Exchange, SharePoint and Lync pretty much covers the spectrum of need required for business to make the switch. Office 365 needs to focus on mobile users as well, specifically with tablets and phones (across all vendors). Microsoft could make a killing here if done correctly.
6. Mobile Really Race Heats Up: I think Microsoft’s re-entry into the mobile space can be considered a success, as long as they continue to keep the platform active and vibrant (there is no sign that they won’t). I see Blackberry’s influence decline in the market, being displaced by the Microsoft, Apple, and Google platforms. From an enterprise perspective, I think Microsoft and Apple will have the upper hand… ultimately, I believe that Microsoft will prevail more in the enterprise due to its dedication to making it easier to build and deploy mobile apps on the platform. That said, people still love using their Apple devices – people don’t want to have one business device and one personal device – and I suggest that people’s love for the iPad and iPod will greatly influence enterprises as well. Logic may not prevail – emotion will. When I speak of mobile, I now have to include the “tablet” or “slate” forms. Unfortunately, I don’t think Microsoft will prevail in this area until they port their Windows Phone 7 OS to a tablet/slate style device. Microsoft is banking on the use of Windows 7 as the core OS for tablets, however, until they completely rewrite the User Interface for Windows 7 and all of Office and every app that runs on Windows 7 to respect pen/hand – this won’t go far – and we’ll only see adoption in very niche markets. Windows 7 and Office were built for a mouse, not fingers and pens – so, just because a tablet has enough power to run the OS and Office on it, doesn’t make it a good idea.
7. Cloud Apps will gain momentum: Cloud apps have been the promise for a while now. Of course, there are many examples of early adopters, however for the most part; enterprises haven’t jumped on this bandwagon. I do not think that this will change dramatically this year. I do think, however, that enterprises and startups will more often seriously consider building their apps within an online fabric versus traditional on-premise or internally hosted solutions.
8. Storage Class Memory: Storage won’t be “revolutionized” this year – however, the trend toward solid state memory will increase dramatically. For example, this year for X-Mas, my children got me the “Hawk Eye” – a remote controlled gyro copter I can fly in the house (good times!). Built into the Hawk Eye is the ability to take photos and videos – all stored on the copters 64MB internal storage. Cheap solid state memory is showing up everywhere.. and getting cheaper and cheaper. We’re going to continue to see this trend – not just in the form of laptop hard drives, but in places we haven’t thought of before. For example, at the ALM Summit in Seattle this past year we passed out solid state memory Agilista wrist bands. Pretty cool and cheap. I am seeing memory inside of pens (eg.. the 8Gig Echo from LiveScribe) and watches… what’s next?
9. Another Stage of Social Networking: I’m not exactly sure what will happen – but I believe that social networking will evolve again this year. Facebook has certainly established itself as the “defacto” social network, yet the trend that I see happening is that Facebook is becoming a form of online identification (many sites allow you to sign in with your Facebook account). A common/global online ID has been promised my many over the last decade and haven’t really caught on.. yet, the rate at which I’m seeing Facebook (and Google) act in this way is stunning. Look for more from online services such as TripIt.com.
10. In Vehicle Experience will spark new dimension: I know I mentioned this last year, and was wrong - however it needs to happen at some point! Google developed the driver-less car (I don’t believe this will catch on this year of course) and Microsoft has been very successful with Ford and I believe that this will move more aggressively to other car manufacturers or in-car entertainment manufacturers such as Pioneer, Bose, and Alpine. I also think that the average consumer will start to be able to purchase stereo-like appliances to be able to retrofit just about any other vehicle make/model just as they would be able to purchase a new stereo for their vehicle today. These new in car appliances will support GPS, Bluetooth, voice recognition, 3G data access for live data feeds for traffic (etc), ability to work with Android, Apple, Blackberry, Windows Phone 7, and ability to have the system read email and text messages to you as you are driving. If we’re really lucky, we’ll see app stores for these devices, be able to access our shared content while on the road (music, video, photos, etc), have built in Facebook access (for features like Facebook check-in support). To be honest, I don’t really think all this is possible for 2011 – but I do believe that either Microsoft or Apple will pave this road making all of this possible sparked by Google’s realization that they can increase advertising and consumer web traffic if they can just allow users to access online services while driving.
11. Learning Content: Again, this is something I predicted last year, that due to economic concerns and the pain of travel, we’ll find better ways to collaborate. I don’t think this happened last year, however, I did see a bit more of a shift to even greater consumption of online material and learning resources – especially on demand video and training. I think that this trend will continue. We’ll see a greater amount of content to choose from, and more ability to consume this content in various devices. We’ll see more online courses, more online resources, more forms of content driving a more comprehensive ecosystem of knowledge and learning. Content consumption will fit more naturally with the way that people work and address mobility and incremental consumption. I know that this is a trend that I’ve seen more and more with myself and my peers. Quite frankly, I want to consume a short and sweet 5 min video on a topic versus being forced to read or take a long course.
Joel Semeniuk is a Microsoft Regional Director and MVP Microsoft ALM. You can follow him on twitter @JoelSemeniuk.