Taking the brain outside the box

Let’s say you’ve given yourself the job of thinking into the future of IT. You want to know the strategic technologies and trends within IT that you’ll have to be across to stay ahead of the game. I’m not talking about next week, next month or even next year. Try 5 – 10 years from now. Would you even dare predict things so far out?

Very few predictions on technology have been particularly accurate. The apocryphal, oft-quoted “640kb ought to be enough for anybody.” of Bill Gates highlights how wrong they can be, if nothing else. Where predictions are mostly wrong is in the fine details; essentially the underlying trends are relatively well picked, even if the timing is out. By the late 90’s, most people had cottoned on that the Internet was going to be something really big – but who could have predicted that along with delivering crucial business tools like email, it would result in such phenomena as musically-accompanied ChatRoulette while providing tools for the new-age schoolyard bully? The Utopian Internet of all machines interconnected has lead to the huge range of outcomes we chaotic humans can dream up.

On the assumption that the Internet is going to foment innovation, either directly or by driving it in other areas such as virtualisation and cloud computing for the foreseeable future, what is going to be the next disruptive technology that will provide fodder for the constant reinvention that is IT? It’s fair to say that the access will continue to evolve as mobile computing improves and throughput to the wider web increases. Likewise the Internet will usher in a new wave of thinking around applications. But to me, these are just more of the same, delivering old things in new packages, cheaper and faster. What have you seen out there that makes you think: “this is really on the edge – it might bomb, it might take off, but it’s going to be interesting to watch.” What about if we think really big, and try and dream up what the next Internet-type phenomena will be?

I’ll meet you back here in a week or so and we’ll compare notes.

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