Cloud, outsourcing and open data among trends in 2011, says IDC

It’s the last month of the year, and that means the crystal ball gazing is kicking into high gear. IDC Canada has published its list of the top 10 predictions for information and communications technologies in 2011.

As Vito Mabrucco, senior vice president of worldwide consulting and managing director of IDC Canada, noted at the beginning of his recent presentation to media and analysts, the predictions are not forecasts or detailed market analysis, but they are based on data collected by IDC.

Perhaps not unexpected in the predictions is the mention of cloud computing, the outsourcing market and the increasing amount of data being created by businesses and consumers alike (a challenge everyone will likely have to deal with for the foreseeable future).

“We are seeing growth in the economy in 2010 and 2011 really across the board worldwide,” Mabrucco said. Even as the world returns to growth, there will be a deceleration of that growth in 2011, which he noted is unusual when compared to historical data. Typically, there would be steady growth in the year if compared to historical data, he said.

The good news is the ICT market in Canada is on its way to a full recovery by the end of 2012, he said. Technology is becoming the answer to creating great companies, and so businesses in Canada are turning to technology to help them succeed, he said.

Many of the technologies in the predictions are those that businesses are already turning to in order to build a solid foundation for growth. And without further ado, here are IDC’s top 10 predictions for ICT in 2011.

Prediction #1: The cloud either gets relevant or evaporates

With all the hype around cloud computing, it may seem a little odd to think that 2011 is either the year where it gets relevant or evaporates, but according to Mabrucco, 2011 will be an important year for cloud to prove its business relevance. To keep its momentum up (32 per cent growth in Canada this year), the rules of engagement need to change. However, the market is being overwhelmed by the use of the “cloud” term, he said.

“Good ideas to solve real problems have fallen by the wayside before and they may again unless the industry can truly define and implement cloud computing,” Mabrucco said.

So cloud either needs to get relevant or it may be waving bye-bye.

Prediction #2: The cloud invigorates high-end infrastructure

A combination of cloud and infrastructure is creating the modern family, Mabrucco said. Virtualization is driving a rebound to integration. In the end, high-end infrastructure will be reinvigorated by private cloud deployments.

“IT certainly remains the primary buyer of primary systems,” he said.

Prediction #3: The outsourcing big bang theory

According to IDC, $25 billion in outsourcing contracts are coming to an end in the next three years, and that means a lot of opportunities are coming up for grabs. This will lead to a big change in the market, including shorter contract lengths and businesses taking a critical look at whether outsourcing is still relevant in the way they operate.

Vendors and their channel partners need to move fast, but it may already be too late to cash in on contracts that are coming due in 2011 (if you haven’t already started planning, that is). Everyone will need to keep in mind that outsourcing may no longer be as beneficial to businesses as it once was, so ICT decision-makers will be determining the best route for their businesses as their outsourcing contracts are getting close to expiration. Expect them to demand shorter contract lengths.

Prediction #4: The service provider shake-up

IDC is predicting that there will be a new entrant in the top 10 service providers list in 2011. It will likely come from an outsourcing heritage, and it will reshape the service provider landscape. This means more choices for decision-makers.

Prediction #5:  The first wireless/wired WAN data service emerges

Mabrucco said he expects the first wireless and wired WAN data service will emerge in Canada in 2011. It’ll come from one of the major service providers in addressing the changing market.

Prediction #6: It’s a digital video world

Video services are already beginning to shift from traditional cable and satellite TV services to digital services, and IDC expects this trend will really pick up in 2011 with additional consumer choices.

“People will want their content when and where they want it, not when the [service providers] decide to show it,” Mabrucco said.

By the end of 2011, IDC expects 6.7 per cent of the video subscriber base to be telco IPTV subscribers.

In this new world, enhanced content and web-based offerings will be the key differentiator.

Prediction #7: Smartphones become essential

Smartphones are the next “must-have” device, as shipments are likely to surpass the shipments of standard feature phones in the first quarter of 2011. That means more than 50 per cent of mobile phone shipments will smartphones.

Prediction #8: Big growth for tablets and ereaders

IDC expects the tablet and ereader markets to grow by triple and double digits, respectively, in 2011.

“Let’s face it: The Canadian idol driving the … market is the media tablet. Everyone wants one, whether they know why or not,” Mabrucco said.

Maybe we’ll finally get that paperless world we’ve been promised for decades, after all.

Prediction #9: Public sector adopts open data

Capitlizing on content explosion and pervasive analytics trends, the Canadian public sector will adopt open data, Mabrucco said. There will be discovery of how old data can help them do new things.

Prediction #10: Where are we going to put all that data?

The exponential increase in the amount of digital data is not going to slow down at all in 2011. Social media, ediscovery and ecommerce are among the key drivers of the continued increase in the amount of data being stored digitally, Mabrucco said.

IDC expects the digital universe to grow to 1.2 zetabytes, a world Mabrucco said he’s never had to use before when discussing digital data trends. What’s a zetabyte? It’s 1.2 million petabytes. As Mabrucco said, businesses are facing a digital tsunami, and we can expect the emergence of very large data warehouses that can store hundreds of terabytes for customers.

“Our real prediction here is there will be a drive to moving past data explosion to thriving with it,” Mabrucco said.

Bonus prediction: This list goes to 11

Mabrucco ended his top 10 predictions list with a bonus prediction (11 predictions for 2011; get it?).

He noted there will continue to be a lot of innovation in the Toronto area, as well as other parts of Canada. Innovation in 2011 will revolve around a few key areas, including mobile device proliferation, the continuing transformation to digital media and the social networking crazy.

Mobile devices will play a pivotal role in mobile strategies in 2011.

The Great White North is moving to digital media faster than many other nations.

With 75 per cent of Canadians having participated in social networking at least once, the emergence and importance of business social networking analytics tools will be a big trend in 2011.