IN ten years’ time, information and communications technology will blanket the planet, and will become so embedded it will be invisible to users.
A multitude of devices, or user touch points, will continuously communicate with each other over the internet, which will become the backbone of our communications infrastructure.
Much of this chattering will take place without our interaction, and will not just come from phones or PCs, but also RFID chips, GPS units and even household appliances.
Your car will alert the house to fire up the heating as you head home and elevators or traffic signals will automatically send diagnostic reports back to their headquarters.
This is the vision delivered by research firm IDC in its blueprint for the next decade in IT, during its annual Directions conference this month.
And this change will create the next technology boom, which IT providers need to start preparing for now, says IDC New Zealand country manager Graeme Muller.
“There will be a shift from the internet era to the invisible computing era,” he says.
While the last ten years saw the emergence of the internet, which since 1995 has attracted over ten billion users, the next decade will revolve around what people do on the internet.
The challenge for IT service providers will be to ensure they make the most of the opportunities, while minimising their risks and shoring up for the downturn that inevitably follows a boom.
This is a typical cycle for new technology, says Muller, as proven by the internet boom and subsequent dotcom bust.
Many current trends already lay the foundation for IDC’s blueprint.
The intensifying convergence between IT and telecommunications is seeing telcos becoming some of the largest IT service providers, as witnessed locally with Telecom buying Gen-i and Computerland.
There have been fundamental changes to communication technology with telephony services no longer the sole domain of traditional telcos, says Muller.
“Anything that can connect to the internet can potentially be used to make a phone call. You would be able to buy voice services from any supplier,” he says.
In the same vein, any device that accesses the internet can potentially be used for commercial transitions.
“Network transactions will skyrocket in the next ten years,” says Muller.
So will the number of communication devices using the internet, according to IDC forecasts.
The company expects that by 2015, nearly one billion voice-over-internet-protocol (VoIP) handsets will be installed, five billion mobile communication devices will be in use and broadband will reach 600 million households.
These trends form part of the base course for IDC’s blueprint, along with supply chains elongating to become virtual and high speed, network content increasing 40-fold, the number of commerce transactions growing 100-fold and trillions of devices communicating at any one time.
According to IDC, the next era of compu-ting will call for dynamic IT where point-to-point hardwired products are turned into virtual pools that can be shared and changed quicker, and where architecture and applications are created for rapid integration.
IT companies need to judge where their clients will be moving in this environment and need to start taking a longer-term view now, says Muller.