Managing Director of Barclay Communications
"The future of technology ismobile. In five years time we predict that business technology will be dominated by tablet PC's, Smartphones, Cloud Computing and Apps.Consumers will be paying with mobile wallets and learning about theworld around them through their Smartphone's camera."
1. Tablet PCs Will Continue to Grow
At the start of 2010 tablet PCs were largely unheard of until Apple released the iPad in May and a new technology craze was born.
By the end of 2011 Samsung, HP,Motorola, RIM, Asus and Dell, to name a few had entered the tablet marketplace, and this week NPD Display Search estimated that tablet shipments reached 72.7 million units last year, which is a year on year increase of 256 percent.
This is only the beginning. In 2012 we predict the tablet market will begin to shift more towards the new generation of hybrid tablet PCs, which can dock into a keyboard.
By the end of 2015 tablet PC sales will reach 326.3 million units according to Gartner Research, while by 2016 Juniper Research predicts that nearly a fifth of tablet shipments will be for enterprises.
This is hardly surprising since tablet PCs are perfectly designed for presentations, performing short tasks and viewing dashboard analytics.
Yet the big tablet question everyone wants answered is can Apple continue to keep hold of its current position as the market leader? Quite simply, no, they can't.
Just as Android Smartphone sales overtook iPhones, it is inevitable that sales of the iPad will eventually be surpassed by the sales of tablet PCs that are running the Android platform.
In fact, Informa Telecoms & Media believes this will happen in 2016.
2. Cloud Computing Spending Set To Increase
Cloud Computing isn't a new technology,but it's still not being fully utilised by businesses.
It consists of software applications,storage and services that are hosted online or in "the Cloud"instead of on in-house computers, servers or networks.
By the end of 2011 the global marketfor Cloud Computing was predicted to be worth $40.7 billion according to Forrester Research, but by 2020 it's forecasted to reach $241billion; that's nearly five times the amount it is today.
While some businesses are adopting online storage, backup and archiving Cloud Computing services, they still appear to be cautious about Cloud software, such as online customer relationship management applications.
However, we predict that over the next few years there will be a significant shift in this trend as security fears ease, and the scalability, flexibility and IT cost benefits of Cloud Computing become more apparent.
3. Apps Will Become an Essential Tool for Businesses
The popularity of Smartphones, tablet PCs and Cloud Computing has developed a strong demand for mobile Apps.
According to IDC, the global marketing intelligence firm, mobile App downloads alone will reach 85 billion in 2012.
We forecast that as businesses become more comfortable with these technologies, and as more employees bring their own App-compatible devices into the workplace, companies will increase their investment in generic or custom-made Apps designed to improve operations.
In fact, by 2016 ABI Research has predicted that there will be 830 million active enterprise Smartphone and tablet App users.
Secondly, just as businesses realised the benefits of company websites, we believe they will increase their investment in mobile websites and/or Apps over the next few years.
This will become increasingly more important if Gartner's predictions for 2015 are realised, where businesses generate fifty percent of their sales from mobile Apps and their social presence.
4. Growth In Near Field Communications' Payments
NFC or Near Field Communications has appeared on a number of new Smartphones lately, including the new Blackberry 7 OS devices.
Basically NFC allows two NFC enabled devices to securely transfer data when they touch or are within 10 cm of each other.
For example, if you touch a NFC enabled smart poster or billboard with your NFC phone, the poster could transfer free music downloads, movie trailers, coupons and more onto your phone.
But NFC offers truly exciting possibilities in the form of mobile payments or mobile wallets.
Mobile wallets securely store your credit or debit card details on your phone, enabling you to pay for items just by tapping your phone on a NFC scanner.
Barclay Card customers can already use this technology to pay for items under £15 on selected Orange phones, while in September Google launched an American trial of their Google Wallet NFC App.
Juniper Research now predicts that by2014 one in five Smartphones will support NFC - that's around 300million Smartphones, and mobile payments (using NFC and other technologies) will exceed $670 billion by 2015.
Juniper also forecast that by 2013 one in seven boarding passes will be mobile or NFC enabled, which equates to around 480 million mobile boarding passes.
5. Augmented Reality Will Continue to Change How We View the World
The popularity of camera-enabled mobile devices has also boosted the development of augmented reality (AR)Apps, which overlay computer generated graphics onto the real world.
This technology is frequently found inmobile Apps such as WikiTude which uses a Smartphone's camera to cover a users surroundings with interactive content, and this trend is set to continue.
An AR App was also used to bring the December front covers of a number of popular Hearst Magazines titles to life. In Taiwan the United Daily Newsgroup teamed up with Aurasma to create one of the world's first AR newspapers.
We predict that over the next few years more magazines and newspapers will use AR Apps to turn their flat images into animated 3D objects, videos or extra information to compete with online media.
A California company called Making Virtual Solid has even taken the way-finding line from a car GPS and used an AR App to place it onto the windscreen.
Their award winning Virtual Cable App appears to make the way-finding line stretch out over the road in front of your car, guiding you to your next destination.
There's even talk of AR glasses that will (mobile bandwidth permitting) overlay details about the world around you and the people you meet directly in front of your line of vision.
The future's mobile: Mobile devices,Apps and the Cloud are set to take a large chunk of the technologyand IT market over the next five years, and everyone is set tobenefit from the vast improvements they create in productivity,convenience and connectivity.
We're onlybeginning to see what mobile technology can do; the future will havea lot more surprises in store.