Tech trends – speculations for 2012

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“Never make predictions. Especially about the future.” Yogi Berra’s advice applies to the tech sector more than most but that’s not going to stop us fearlessly speculating. We’ve covered design trends – now let’s take a look at overall tech trends.

“The continued trends toward consumerisation and cloud computing highlight the movement of certain former IT responsibilities into the hands of others,” said Daryl Plummer, managing vice president and Gartner fellow, highlight the driving forces behind the behind the biggest changes: consumer technology and cloud computing.

Here are broad technology trends that may affect developers in the next twelve months:

Consumerisation. 95% of employees are already bringing their own smartphones and computers to work, according to a recent IDC study, but only 49% of businesses say they support it. Only one of these numbers is likely to change.

Cloud. Everyone’s writing about it and perhaps we’re now moving to a new stage in the hype cycle on cloud computing; from inflated expectations to the slope of enlightenment. Or perhaps the trough of disillusionment. However, it is technology that underpins most of the other predictions in this post, so something is definitely going on.

Appification. Whether it’s a web app, a phone app or a desktop app (Windows 8 is on its way), expect fast, light, responsive applications to supplant more traditional installed applications.

Gamification. The use of game-like rewards to motivate behaviour has profound consequences for UI design. Examples include such achievement badges, leader boards and progress bars.

Social media in business. In a recent survey, 78% of executives polled said having a social strategy was critical to future success. Embedding social media into applications and using interface conventions derived from market leaders like Facebook, will be important in 2012.

Elancing. 42% of SMEs plan to hire freelancers in the next year, according to Regus research and 27% of the UK workforce is now, effectively, ‘flexible workers’. Traditional methods of recruiting and employment will still continue of course, but sites like vWorker and will be viable alternatives for employers and contractors alike.

Hybrid organisations. Changes in technology and working patterns mean changes in management and organisation design. Microsoft’s work on The Hybrid Organisation offers an interesting peek into the how and why.

Everyday AI. Search engines will get smarter using your search history and massive databases to provide ever-better results. Voice recognition technology such as Apple’s Siri will allow devices to respond to spoken commands (“Open the pod bay doors, HAL!”) and Microsoft Kinect for the PC will bring gestural interfaces to desktops.

Videoconferencing comes of age. Yes, this is another traditional prediction that goes back decades. But with the widespread availability of broadband and web cams, it could finally take hold this year. Especially when companies are looking to cut back on travel.

What tech trends do you think will come of age in 2012? Drop us a comment and let us know.

Published by Sara Allison

Sara is the editor of Ubelly - when not heads down scouring Ubelly articles for typos (and not always catching them), she's scouting for new writing talent. Give her a shout @SaraAllison if you've got something to say about development/design and want to be heard.

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