A new year is nearly upon us. Every pundit seems to be making predictions for 2009. In the spirit of lazy journalism, here are mine:
- Online advertising will enjoy a brief surge as unenlightened corporations cut their advertising budgets and switch their attention from the traditional media to the Internet. They will do this in an attempt to save money, but the results will be disappointing for them. After a brief flurry in the new year, the downwards trend will continue. The year 2009 will be a bad one for online businesses that rely on advertising but a worse one for the traditional media.
- Virtualisation will thrive. It's all about saving money: hardware, air conditioning and floor area in server rooms and data centres. Cloud computing already enables processing resources to be rented in short bursts when they become necessary, and this trend will continue. Anything that saves money will be popular this year.
- Small-scale outsourcing will finally come of age. Traditionally it has been mainly large projects and support operations that have been outsourced to cheaper parts of the world. This year, the approach may filter down to lower levels within organisations so that smaller bundles of work are outsourced. Sites such as eLance and Rent-a-Coder should do well, with a combination of more projects being posted and new developers joining as they try to make ends meet after being made redundant.
- In a troubled world economy, people tend to loosen their already slack morals. According to Symantec's Spam monthly report for December 2008, the proportion of email classified as spam remained in the band of 75–85% before the action taken against McColo.com caused a 65% drop in traffic temporarily. I predict that spam levels will continue to rise, generally being in a higher band from 85–95%.
- IT directors will take a "fight or flight" approach to their troubled businesses. They will either invest heavily in research and development or will retrench and try to ride out the storm. Some of those who fight will lose; some of those who take flight will run out of money.
- While IT companies cut back on training for their staff, developers themselves will be more inclined to pay for their own training to bolster their skills. At least one major IT training company will fail to spot this trend and will post its biggest ever loss (if it survives at all).
- There will be a lot of talk about how a new programming language or methodology will revolutionise the IT industry, being much more efficient than previous languages and approaches. Lots of people will jjump on this bandwagon, and it will take a few years before people agree that it wasn't the "silver bullet" it promised to be.
- Both hardware and software will be significantly (at least 20%) cheaper than it was this year because very few organisations will be investing in new equipment.
- Despite all this, it still won't be the year of Linux on the desktop.
If this all sounds like doom and gloom, take heart that it will be a good year for the following businesses:
- those relating to open source software
- those selling cheap training materials
- virtualisation hardware and software vendors
- outsourcing intermediaries
- teleworking hardware and software vendors
- those automating manual processes, particularly in a niche, on behalf of their businesses