The year 2012 has seen several positive developments in information and communications technology. In 2013, as always, technology trends will continue to play a significant role in determining which businesses, organisations and countries will be most successful. Here are a few areas to keep an eye on over the next year.
The rise and rise of mobile computing
The proliferation of mobile devices, such as tablets and smartphones, together with greater availability and affordability of mobile broadband services, would spur the adoption of mobile-based development and service innovation.
Already, according to CDW’s 2012 Small Business Mobility Report, adoption of tablets in the workplace is projected to grow 117 per cent. Smart innovators and entrepreneurs will tap the power of mobile computing to enable faster, more efficient and more productive work.
Key to growth of mobile innovation in emerging markets will be the fostering of a yet elusive enabling environment required for mobile commerce. Banking practice and legislative frameworks must better support and encourage technology driven enterprise.
Technology in the classroom
Technology is already having a massive impact on how students acquire knowledge and interact with their environment. Educators and academic institutions are beginning to catch up (and it’s already clear that it will take more than free laptops).
Evolving education policy, upgrading school infrastructure and providing relevant teacher training are the new priorities.
Tablets and digital books will increasingly revolutionise the textbook economy. At the same time, connected schools, with in-class high speed internet and a slew of technology devices, will revolutionise classroom interaction, teacher-parent engagement and the process of learning. For education, this means that the experiences that we deliver to students will be more integrated, adaptable, and consequential.
Students will increasingly learn on their own terms, quickly and easily accessing content, joining courses, and connecting with experts across the globe.
Leveraging the potential of technology can radically change the way we approach education. Pioneering educators will embrace the opportunity to redefine education and learning in the 21st century.
New shared services models can help this evolution to occur more quickly. Increasingly, schools and universities can work collaboratively to leverage national and regional research and education networks, to simplify access and management, increase access, and decrease cost.
Growing corporate and private clouds
Cloud computing has become an increasingly attractive way to for governments, businesses, schools, and even individuals, to access technology-based services more reliably and economically.
As cloud interoperability and standards continue to advance, cloud computing will continue to be driven by a desire for reduce technology costs while improving return on investment. Open source cloud management solutions such as OpenStack and CloudStack will help drive increased deployment. In emerging markets, the development of local cloud-solutions, and the attendant benefits to local economies, will also be spurred on by more robust local Internet infrastructure, including Internet exchange points (IXPs), local copies of DNS root-servers, and a growing technical community to support it all.
The growing Internet of Things
Today, there are more devices connected to the Internet than there are people in the world. This growing Internet of Things is shaping up to be the most disruptive technology since the World Wide Web. The dream of being able to control everything in homes and offices, from temperature, lighting and security to using devices to track refrigerator stocks, programme entertainment and a host of other tasks, is quickly becoming a reality.
The Internet of Things is expected to grow to comprise 100 billion Internet-connected objects by 2020. 2013 will witness an explosion of new uses by consumers and enterprises alike. Enterprises can benefit from the Internet of Things for tracking physical assets, managing customer relationships, and creating efficiencies in business operations and supply chains. The year ahead should see an explosion of start-ups, applications and research projects aimed at leveraging this vast potential.
As its global reach, influence and economic significance grows, the Internet has become a virtual battleground for social, political and technical control. Expect these battles to continue in 2013.
Internet filtering, surveillance and information control advocates will continue to clash with proponents of an open, unfiltered network where users and the technical community— not governments—determine the direction and destiny of the Internet. Through this all, mounting cyber-security concerns, including denial-of-service attacks and network intrusion attempts will have to be balanced against the social and economic benefits of the open governance model that has allowed the Internet to grow into the greatest catalyst to innovation and social empowerment ever.
Keep your eye on these trends. They will continue to drive the massive technology-enabled transformation we see taking place at home and in the world around us.
Bevil Wooding is the chief knowledge officer at Congress WBN, an international non-profit organisation and the founder of BrightPath Foundation, a technology education NGO. Follow on Twitter: @bevilwooding and Facebook: facebook.com/bevilwooding or e-mail [email protected]