eWeek: Five SMB/Midmarket Tech Trends to Watch in 2009

eWeek has weighed in with their annual list of top SMB / MidMarket IT trends to watch in 2009.  With IT budgets expected to be tight this year, eWeek says that small business owners must make wise investments in order to stay competitive.   And because of the focus on cutting costs and managing budgets, eWeek says that technologies such as cloud computing, virtualization and the latest notebooks/netbooks can be well suited for midmarket companies.

  1. Cloud Computing.  eWeek says cloud computing will continue to get traction, especially in the SMB marketplace.  
  2. Virtualization.   eWeek says because of the potential for cost savings, virtualization will be a key trend in 2009 for SMBs.  Plus, eWeek says, building a virtual infrastructure can often result in a higher availability of resources, better desktop management, increased security and improved disaster recovery processes.   
  3. Notebook/Netbook Adoption.  The attractiveness of notebooks and their smaller, less powerful cousins, netbooks, has grown as features such as battery life and structural durability has improved…making this a trend to watch in 2009.   
  4. Open Source Software.  While open source certainly hasn't become a dominant force in the midmarket space, as more SMBs adopt open source technologies for non-critical applications, it is likely others, particularly tech-savvy small business owners, will realize the cost benefit potential of open source technology.
  5. Online Social Networking.  eWeek says social networking has the potential to level the playing field for SMBs in a big way, but first need to understand what you want social media to do for your company.

Cloud computing is a trend I have been following for over a year and I'd have to agree that we will see increased interest from SMBs for not only SaaS, but Infrastructure as a Service as well.

The netbook trend is getting increased attention in the press.  It will be interesting to see how the mobile device market and the netbook market morph over time.

Online social networking is a trend that I think will get even more hype in 2009 as the focus moves from consumer (e.g. Facebook) related social networking to business (e.g. LinkedIn) related social networking.  With layoffs in the picture for 2009, people will be staying in touch even more via social networking sites.

To read the full article, go to the eWeek page:  Five Tech Trends to Watch in 2009

John Battelle: Media-related Predictions for 2009

John Battelle is one of the foremost thought-leaders on the tech-driven transformation of business and our world.  He's founder and CEO of The Industry Standard, co-founding editor of WIRED magazine, and the founder and CEO of Federated Media.  He has been providing his annual tech predictions for many years.  He recently posted his predictions for next year in on his blog in a post titled Predictions 2009.

Here is a summary of his online media predictions for 2009, with my thoughts/comments.

1. Macro economy:   Battelle says that we'll see an end to the recession with the economy beginning to grow again by the end of the year. 

  • I think this is a little optimistic.  I am thinking that the recession is going to last longer.

2. The online media space will be hit hard by the economic downturn, but looking to the long term, the web is where people are spending their time, the web will be where marketers spend their money.

  • Battelle is a leader in the online industry, so he is watching this space like a hawk, I am sure.

3. Google will see search share decline significantly for the first time ever.   Battelle says Google is going to go through growing pains and he thinks they will have a hard time making the transition to a big company and big brand, mainly for cultural reasons.   He says their biggest problem will be in diversifying their revenues.

  • The stock decline prediction is fairly safe, but I have a feeling that Google can continue to transform themselves into whatever they eant to be.

4. Despite #3 above, Google stock will soar in by Q3-4 of 2009, mainly because demand will pick up, and when demand picks up, it's like rain on a field of newly sown wheat. This after the stock tanks when the first half of #3, above, becomes apparent.

  • Another safe prediction.   What goes down, must come up is not what you would normally think, but with Google, I do expect their stock to do just fine by the end of the year.

5. Tied to #3 above, Microsoft will gain at least five points of search share in 2009, perhaps as much as 10.

  • This is a rather bold prediction.  I doubt it will happen.

6. Yahoo and AOL will merge.

  • If it happens, it will be a good thing for both companies.  The both have had a great ride since they were founded, but they both need to reinvent themselves.

7. However, in the second half of the year, Microsoft will buy its search monetization from the combined company.

  • I guess if #7 happens, then his #5 might have a chance….but I would put this at low probability.

8. Apple will see a significant reversal of recent fortunes.

  • Battelle says this will be tied to branding issues.  I can't see how a company like Apple that has so much going for it now could have a 'significant' decline.

9. Major brands will continue to struggle with the best way to interact with "social media."

  • I'd agree that for the most part, the old 'stogy' brands are having a tough time figuring out how to play with social media sites.  This is nothing new.

10. Agencies will increasingly see their role as that of publishers. Publishers will increasingly see their role as that of agencies.  They need each other.

  • Agree…all caused by the transition to online media.

11. Twitter will continue its meteoric rise. The key is the community and the conversation that community is having.  By the middle of 2009, the integration of Twitter's community and content will become commonplace in well-executed marketing on third party sites.

  • I have played around with Twitter a little bit, but it has not really taken a hold of my daily activities yet.  Perhaps I need to give it another try.

12. Facebook will do something entirely shocking and unpredictable. I am not certain what, but it won't have a "status quo" year.

  • As with Twitter, I have only played around with Facebook just a little, preferring Linked-In to Facebook.   I do agree that Facebook will need figure out how to continue its rapid growth by attracting new users.  Look for new features designed to attract both an older and a younger demographics.

13. Lucky #13 is reserved for my eternal mobile prediction: 2009 will see the year mobility becomes presumptive in every aspect of the web.

  • Finally….it took to #13 for Battelle to mention mobility.  While I agree with the movement towards the mobile web, I don't think the economic situation will allow consumers to embrace the mobile web as much as Battelle does.

14. Lastly, I promise, I will have sold my book and will be hard at work on it. 

  • Must be nice to be so popular that you can sell a book before you write it.

You can read his full blog here Predictions 2009 along with a review of Battelle's previous years predictions

Trendwatching: Six Consumer Trends for 2009

Every so often I like to read up on consumer related trends.  I have always felt this is important in the B2B world because consumers are at the very heart of what makes every economy tick.  And as the Internet has made the consumer a much more relevant and powerful force in the economy, keeping an eye on consumer trends can help us understand our clients wants and needs.

Trendwatching.com is one source I use to keep up on consumer trends.  It can be an annoying site as it is rather splashy with bold colors, pictures all over, and fancy names for trends.  However, underneath all that are usually some important trends.  I am on their newsletter list and they report on new trends regularly, so I am always getting an update on something new. 

So Trendwatching recently came out with their annual Trends report.  I don't have a budget to buy the report, so I have not seen it yet.  However, Trendwatching does provide us with their top six trends in their December 2008 briefing.   Here is a summary of those trends (check out those fancy names!)

  1. Nichetributes.  This trend is all about companies adding new attributes / features / additions to existing products, making them more practical for specific user groups (niches).  In doing so companies would be signaling to those users that the brand 'gets it’, that it cares, and in some cases even pays tribute to their lifestyle.
  2. Luxyoury.  While luxury is traditionally associated with the scarcity of a good/product, in 2009, Trendwatching says luxury providers will search for those products that are becoming little too affordable, too accessible, or just too well-known.  Then they will introduce something very different (if not the opposite), appealing to the in-crowds.
  3. Feedback 3.0.  This will be all about companies joining the Web 2.0 conversation, if only to get their side of the story in front of the mass audience that now scans reviews.  Expect smart companies to be increasingly able (and to increasingly demand) to post their apologies and solutions, preferably directly alongside reviews from unhappy customers.
  4. Econocierges.  Trendwatching says to expect a rise in firms and services dedicated to helping households go green in any possible way.  Some of this activity will result from cash-strapped consumers looking to make money by being green (example: generate and sell excess power to the power 'grid').
  5. Mapmainia.  Trendwatching expects 2009 to be a year in which everything will be plotted on online maps.  These new services will be embraced by eager consumer masses who will flock to anything from friend-finders to lowest-gas-price-locators.
  6. Happy ending.  Consumers will start to focus more on what truly makes them happy…and many will realize that does not mean shopping.  Successful companies will show consumers they care (examples include listening to real-time needs and wants, helping people to save money while being green, etc).

For more information on these specific trends, visit the Trendwatching briefing website here or download a shiny, bright PDF here.

PEW Internet: The Future of the Internet III

A couple of weeks ago,  Pew/Internet and American Life Project published its Future of the Internet III report, which is a list of technology predictions.  A PDF of the report can be downloaded here http://www.pewinternet.org/pdfs/PIP_FutureInternet3.pdf

This is the third canvassing of Internet specialists and analysts by the Pew Internet & American Life Project. 

Technology stakeholders and critics were asked in an online survey to assess scenarios about the future social, political, and economic impact of the Internet.  Some 578 leading Internet activists, builders, and commentators responded in this survey to scenarios about the effect of the Internet on social, political, and economic life in the year 2020.   An additional 618 stakeholders also participated in the study, for a total of 1,196 participants who shared their views.

Key findings:

  • The mobile device will be the primary connection tool to the Internet for most people in the world in 2020.
  • The transparency of people and organizations will increase, but that will not necessarily yield more personal integrity, social tolerance, or forgiveness.
  • Voice recognition and touch user-interfaces with the Internet will be more prevalent and accepted by 2020.
  • Those working to enforce intellectual property law and copyright protection will remain in a continuing arms race, with the crackers who will find ways to copy and share content without payment.
  • The divisions between personal time and work time and between physical and virtual reality will be further erased for everyone who is connected, and the results will be mixed in their impact on basic social relations.
  • Next-generation engineering of the network to improve the current Internet architecture is more likely than an effort to rebuild the architecture from scratch.

Nothing really too earth-shattering based on what we know and discuss today.  More predictions about the evolution of mobile communications can be found here, and also make sure to take a look at predictions related to developments in the Internet user interface.   Much more information can be found by going to the PEW / INTERNET website: The Future of the Internet III