As we bid a final farewell to 2011 and settle in for another new year, we asked several leading industry observers about their predictions for business technology in the coming year.
Desktop and Mobile Converge
Al Hilwa, program director for applications development software at IDC, predicts that "desktop and mobile application development ecosystems will begin their convergence in 2012, as the industry marches to the release of Windows 8."
Touch Revolution for Enterprise Software
As part of that convergence, Hilwa said, 2012 "will mark the dawn of the touch revolution for enterprise software." He predicts that apps reworked for touch, such as new ones from Adobe, will "spur more developers to think about the truly new possibilities" now available through that kind of interaction.
This will result in a move to touch, Hilwa said, that "will be the most dramatic shift in UI [user interface] technologies since the move from text to GUI [graphical user interfaces]."
HTML5 Will Dominate Phones and Tablets
2012 will also be marked by a definitive move toward HTML5, Hilwa predicts, with HTML5 capability for "90 percent of smartphones and tablets" by the end of the year.
Desktops, however, will not reach an equal level of HTML5 penetration until mid- to late 2013. A key factor in increasing the installed base, he said, will be Microsoft's new auto-update strategy for the Internet Explorer browser.
Platform-as-a-Service Going Mainstream
Hilwa also predicts that platform-as-a-service, or PaaS, backends will be seen as "mainstream for consumer and mobile apps" in 2012.
At the same time, enterprise app vendors will increasingly engage around PaaS "as they accommodate the needs of small- to mid-size enterprises [SMBs] eager to harness cloud economics."
Information Foraging Evolves
To help predict coming enterprise trends, analyst Brad Shimmin of Current Analysis suggests that it's often helpful to look at trends in the consumer space, such as the move toward natural language and gestural interfaces, like those now available with gaming consoles.
But there's one 2012 direction in particular, he said, that may be gaining traction first in the enterprise. He's talking about "information foraging," part of an increasing trend by vendors to turn away from traditional filtering methods for organizing and finding corporate data. The term "information foraging," Shimmin said, is based on the idea that "scavenging for corporate data today and foraging for food on the Serengeti thousands of years ago aren't very different from one another."
He pointed to software vendor Lyzasoft, which offers a "collaborative intelligence platform," as a company that is "betting heavy upon the idea that we all leave traces of ourselves in everything we come in contact with." As an example, he said, "time spent in a file imparts importance in that file," and the resulting "informational scent" can be used by others "to more effectively locate resources that are contextually relevant." (continued...)