2012 mega predictions round-up

It's a new year. Vendors look hopefully to what the next 12 months might bring them, while analysts pitch their predictive powers. We give you a taste of what the IT industry expects for the year ahead.

It's a new year. Vendors look hopefully to what the next 12 months might bring them, while analysts pitch their predictive powers. We give you a taste of what the IT industry expects for the year ahead.


(Looking Through My Crystal Ball image by Kate Ter Haar, CC2.0)

We've broken the predictions up into different sectors, with predictions laid out on a thematic basis. We're starting with analysts, but, if you'd prefer to start elsewhere, we've talked to experts from telcos, enterprises and security vendors.

Make sure you tell us which of the predictions you think are likely to be proven true, and which are completely off the mark in the Talkback section below.

What the analysts say


  • Intro
  • What the analysts say
  • What the telco experts say
  • What the enterprise experts say
  • What the security experts say

Cloud, big data, social media and mobility were the key themes that analysts picked out this year for their predictions, but they didn't always agree on what will happen in these areas.

Indeed, IDC says, "As we head into what looks to be a turbulent 2012, the only certainty is uncertainty".


Gartner says that low-cost cloud services will start to cannibalise outsourcing players' profits, predicting that as much as 15 per cent of big players' profits will disappear by 2015.

"The projected US$1 trillion IT services market is at the beginning of a phase of further disruption, similar to the one the low-cost airlines have brought in the transportation industry," Gartner says, adding that by 2016, 40 per cent of enterprises will require independent security testing before signing up to any type of cloud service.

IDC sees opportunities for cloud players in the high-performance computing segment of the mining sector.

"A fundamental requirement as part of the activities involved in exploration and discovery within the mining, oil and gas sectors is the collection of data to inform investment decisions. This includes mapping and analysis for the ocean floor, carbon dioxide storage analysis, and modelling, geothermal energy exploration and geospatial data, to name a few," it says.

But it won't just be the mining sector. In general, enterprise cloud use will grow across the board, according to Gartner, which says that over 50 per cent of global 1000 companies will have stored customer-sensitive data in the public cloud by the end of 2016. For this privilege, they'll have to pay; Gartner predicts that 80 per cent of cloud services will include a global energy surcharge by 2015.

"While cloud operators can make strategic decisions about locations, tax subsidies are no long-term answer to managing costs, and investments in renewable-energy sources remain costly," the analyst house says.

"Some cloud datacentre operators already include an energy surcharge in their pricing package, and Gartner analysts believe this trend will rapidly escalate to include the majority of operators — driven by competitive pressures and a 'me too' approach."

Consumers, meanwhile, will be slow to jump on the bandwagon, Gartner says, predicting that by 2014, less than 10 per cent of consumers will use cloud services for their main storage.


According to IDC, 2012 will be the year of mobility for Australia.

Customer-facing staff will continue to adopt tablets, Ovum predicts, backed up by Gartner's belief that PC vendors will need a successful tablet offering to remain in the top five vendors by 2015. Gartner also holds the belief that Nokia will again be the top consumer-electronics brand by that year. "Nokia has high brand recognition in emerging markets, where its low-cost products, local services and strong carrier relations will prepare it well to regain the top brand position," Gartner analyst Sandy Shen says.

Meanwhile, Gartner predicts that by 2015, mobile payments will account for 5 per cent of all consumer electronic transactions worldwide, and that most consumers in mature markets will carefully consider buying any car that didn't have internet access. A car that they might buy could even come from a technology company, with Gartner predicting that at least one tech firm will have announced plans to develop its own car by 2016.

Budgets and CIOs

Although IDC acknowledges the risk of a global recession in 2012, it didn't expect a major impact on ICT spending in the Asia-Pacific region, saying only that companies will be cautious in their spend in the coming year. It predicts that the Asia-Pacific IT spend (excluding Japan) will reach US$653 billion this year, representing 10.4 per cent growth. IDC also believes that growth rates will remain above 9 per cent out to 2015. The carbon tax will mean that energy use will be at the centre of IT decision making for manufacturing, utilities and transport organisations this year.

According to Ovum, consumerisation will cause anarchy in organisations, creating problems and opportunities for CIOs. It also predicts that line-of-business owners will confront CIOs for not being able to meet the specific needs of the department.

"The adoption of new smart devices and sophisticated web services in the consumer market is accelerating, extending the gap between user expectations and the services being delivered by corporate IT," explains Tim Jennings, Ovum's chief analyst for enterprise IT. "To minimise this disconnect, the CIO will need to act as an enabler of innovation for the business, and this creates the opportunity to play a central role in both operational and commercial strategy."

Meanwhile, vendors will be able to sell through more channels than just the IT department, meaning that the CIO will have to deal with "proliferative innovation", according to Ovum. In Gartner's vision, 35 per cent of enterprise IT expenditures for most organisations will be managed outside the IT department's budget by 2015.

Big data

IDC sees big data, business analytics and business intelligence converging into a new wave of platforms, which will fill gaps between strategic, operational and tactical decision management.

Ovum predicts that investment in business intelligence and data warehousing will increase, as companies try to use analytics on social media, machine-to-machine technologies and location data to create new opportunities. Nevertheless, Ovum warns that not all of the companies will manage to capture all of the benefits of big data.

Gartner also feels that some companies will miss out, saying that, through to 2015, more than 85 per cent of Fortune 500 organisations will fail to exploit big data to gain a competitive advantage.

"Collecting and analysing the data is not enough — it must be presented in a timely fashion so that decisions are made as a direct consequence that have a material impact on the productivity, profitability or efficiency of the organisation. Most organisations are ill prepared to address both the technical and management challenges posed by big data; as a direct result, few will be able to effectively exploit this trend for competitive advantage," Gartner says.


IDC says 2012 will see companies automate their environments "en masse". It explains its reasoning here, calling out a productivity versus profit misalignment:

During 2010 to 2014, IT employment, now at 35 million, will grow by a factor of 1.3 worldwide. This is a constraint in an industry that will grow by a factor of 1.1 by spending, but by more than two by devices managed, five by information created and eight by networked interactions between customers. IDC views this as a long-term structural constraint that will create an incentive for IT organisations to invest in automation to keep up with the increasing scale and complexity of operational IT environments.

Social media

Ovum believes that the strength of social media will continue into 2012, with Facebook continuing to force employee communications to evolve, and more companies starting third-party application development on social-enterprise platforms, such as Jive and Yammer. Gartner predicted that less than 20 per cent of large enterprises will block access to external social media by 2014, down from 50 per cent in 2011.

Yet, Gartner also says that 2012 will see the start of a negative backlash against social media, with 20 per cent of consumers reducing the amount of information they share online.

It also predicts that 2013 will see the consumer social-network bubble burst, with the enterprise social-network bubble to burst the year after:

Vendors in the consumer social-network space are competing with each other at a rate and pace that are unusually aggressive, even in the technology market. The net result is a large crop of vendors with overlapping features competing for a finite audience. In the enterprise market, many small, independent social-networking vendors are struggling to reach critical mass at a time when market consolidation is starting, and mega-vendors, such as Microsoft, IBM, Oracle, Google and VMware, have made substantial efforts to penetrate the enterprise social-networking market. While substantial excitement will be raised by private firms going public, valuations of smaller independent vendors will diminish as recognition sets in that the opportunities for market differentiation and fast growth has eroded.


Communications are expected to move into the cloud, according to IDC, which says that "2012 will be the year everything communications (eg, IM, presence, collaboration and conferencing) moves to a cloud delivery model. In other words, services will be provisioned and deployed from the network through automated tools, and priced by the seat to deliver a pay-as-you-go (PAYG) commercial model".

The National Broadband Network (NBN) and the deal between Telstra and the NBN Co will make voice and data true commodities, which IDC believes will accelerate the roll-out of next-generation broadband services, such as long-term evolution (LTE), and will force carriers to offer cloud services to find a value-add service.

A desire for flatter network architecture and bandwidth scalability will drive demand for carrier-grade WAN Ethernet services, too, IDC says.

"Ethernet services will not substitute [Multi-protocol Label Switching], but will become part of the broader WAN strategy discussion. IDC forecasts that Metro Ethernet services will grow by 13 per cent in 2012 to reach in excess of $1.1 billion."


Organisations will "live in a state of compromise" according to Ovum, acting as though they have already been breached. Mobile device-management products and penetration testing will be in demand, as "BYO" devices continue to increase the number of potential data-leakage points.

"Mobile security will be prevalent in 2012, particularly pushing out anti-malware to mobile devices to prevent different types of malicious attacks," IDC agrees.

Companies will also have to watch as disgruntled customers attack corporate networks in retaliation, Ovum says, explaining that "customer complaints will increasingly take the form of malicious attack on the corporate network".

The financial impact of cybercrime will grow 10 per cent per year, Gartner says, because of the new vulnerabilities introduced by cloud and BYO devices policies.

What the telco experts say


  • Intro
  • What the analysts say
  • What the telco experts say
  • What the enterprise experts say
  • What the security experts say

In the realm of telecommunications, 2012 is all about devices and how people use them.

Telstra's chief technology officer, Hugh Bradlow, believes that as more phones get near-field communications (NFC) technology, we will see more uses for it in other aspects of our lives.

"Mobile handsets will have near-field communications built in, enabling applications such as mobile wallet, NFC-based loyalty programs, transit ticketing, door locks and more," he says. He adds that customers will begin to move towards apps rather than visiting traditional websites; on phones, voice interfaces (such as Google Translator and Apple's Siri) will become more natural.

The handsets themselves will also get better screens and batteries, according to Vodafone. "We will see improvement in screen technology, as well as the introduction of quad-core processors across a range of devices that will truly see mini-computers in the palm of our hands," Vodafone says. "In the last few years, battery life has lagged behind the innovation seen in processors and increased screen capability, but we hope to see this improve as the demands put on devices grows further in 2012."

A big move in the industry will be towards connected TVs and shared media, according to Bradlow. "The home will become more connected, with media sharing becoming mainstream through connected/smart TVs, IP-based set-top boxes and DLNA/UPnP services appearing in homes. Media content will continue to move from an ownership model to rental," he says.


(Torre de Collserola image by Joan
, CC2.0)

Optus' director of digital media, Austin Bryan, says 2012 will see people seeking out content and information at a time and place of their choosing. "With internet TV and cloud capabilities expanding rapidly, we expect to see an increase in people watching TV via their digital devices, and embracing live record and view capabilities whilst on the go as we move into 2012," he says. "We see the sharing of experiences as they happen gaining more traction over the next year. Australians aren't just viewing content; they're consuming content, and sharing their thoughts concurrently."

Of course, that will be subject to the outcome of the Federal Court case over Optus' own mobile TV-streaming app, TV Now.

Internode managing director, Simon Hackett, also predicts that internet TV will play a big role in 2012, with the battleground for internet appliances shifting from smartphones to smart TVs.

Internode's impending takeover by iiNet is set to be finalised in February, and Hackett cites the NBN as the reason he agreed to merge with iiNet. Hackett predicts that this will be the "make-or-break year for the NBN in its current form. Many happy connected customers ... or bust".

He says that direct participation in the NBN by retailers will be low, unless the ACCC reconsiders "the madness of their decision to split the NBN into 121 smaller sub-networks".

A changing telco world

Cisco predicts that telco business models are "under serious pressure to change", and the companies' new business model will be based on cloud services. Cisco says that global players will have an interest in the local Australian market, and system integrators will look to take out telco licences.

With cloud in front of mind for telcos, Cisco says that CIOs will need to answer "Why not cloud?" as it is now a serious option for all businesses, both small and large.

Brocade's regional director for Australia and New Zealand, Graham Schultz, says that 2012 will see more non-technology businesses move into the cloud:

In the current economy, businesses look to sweat every asset at their disposal, and more and more will look to leverage their datacentre environments to offer cloud services as an additional revenue stream. Those companies wishing to address this burgeoning market will need to have the right datacentre architecture in place — a highly virtualised, fabric-based network topology, delivering reliability and performance to meet strict [service level agreements] — to respond to customer demands, and I predict that we will see some high-profile casualties as a result of providers trying to make a fast buck.

Schultz predicts that BYO devices will change IT procurement in 2012.

"The smartphone/tablet phenomenon will fuel this trend, and will drive uptake of virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), wireless networking and end-point security solutions in the corporate arena. However, it will create many problems for IT departments as they attempt to mitigate risk, and signals a tough future for PC and laptop manufacturers. I believe we will see at least one high-profile security disaster as a result of this trend, and that will act as a wake-up call for companies to get proper security processes in place before unlocking their networks to all and sundry."

Huawei also predicts that Facebook will have a major impact on the user experiences of other technologies.

"Google introduced mathematical logic to its search services, providing improved access to massive amounts of information. Google does this merely at the tool layer, while Facebook transcends the tool layer and deals with the social nature of humans," Huawei says. "By emphasising the social aspects of the internet, Facebook addresses users' emotional needs to some extent, as well as satisfying their desire for sharing. The Facebook phenomenon indicates that a community-like experience will be a basic feature for both consumer-oriented services and enterprise-targeted applications."

What the enterprise experts say


  • Intro
  • What the analysts say
  • What the telco experts say
  • What the enterprise experts say
  • What the security experts say

Consumerisation, BYO devices, big data and the cloud will be on vendors' minds this year.

Cloud and virtualisation

Google's APAC managing director, Enterprise, Doug Farber, says that this year will see large traditional organisations turn off their services and move their businesses to the cloud. But Citrix says that Aussie cloud organisations will have to watch out, because US providers are going to swoop down on Australia, as prefaced by Amazon's decision to have a presence here. This will mean more competition — a boon for customers. Citrix also thinks that 2012 will see the emergence of a unified broker market for cloud, creating a new IT sector.

Red Hat, on the other hand, thinks that cloud will see a year of evolution, not revolution. Predicted points of focus include interoperability, portability and cross-platform capabilities, but despite this, Red Hat reckons that standards will remain in early stages, because the technology is transforming too fast for standards to be established.

Virtualisation will be dominated by coexistence, according to Don Williams, Veeam's ANZ country manager.


(Desk image by Konrad Neuwirth, CC2.0)

"I do believe that in 2012, increasingly Hyper-V and vSphere will be operating in the same datacentre, managed by the same IT staff and happily delivering needed apps and services to IT stakeholders," he says, explaining that since Hyper-V had improved greatly, virtualisation deployment decisions are more difficult to make.

Of course, hanging over all things cloud and datacentre will be the Federal Government's carbon tax, which, together with the global Basel III standard, will create a challenge for the industry, according to Oracle group vice president and managing director Australia and New Zealand, Ian White.

"The carbon tax, for instance, will be a transformational factor for datacentre consolidation and energy efficiencies; and compliance with Basel III is expected to drive investment in real-time analytics and big data technologies," he says.


Big data will be a key theme in the months to come, as the rise of unstructured data from social channels and the internet of things contribute to the exponential growth of data.

Michael Bosnar, managing director of AppSense Australia and New Zealand, pointed to the fact that the increasing take-up of BYO policies will put data, not devices, at the centre of the IT function.

"Tools will be available to ensure all pieces of corporate data have an elasticated thread back to the company, which can be snapped back at any time. For example, when an employee gives notice, IT issues a simple command, and the employee no longer has access to the important data from any device. This will enable more transfer of trust to the user, and evolve security from a perimeter security-only approach," he says.

Bosnar also believes that new businesses will be created, which come up with new ways to access "old" data from any device, at any time.

Mobility and social enterprise

Mobility will kill the digital divide, IBM says, with growth communities using mobile devices to access information, mobile commerce and remote healthcare.

Mobility is key, Farber agrees, but adds that the consumerisation of IT will turn into socialisation of IT.

"Today, technology can enable what even a few years back we thought was science fiction. You don't have to be sitting in the same office or even the same country to 'collaborate' with your colleagues and customers on a project. Today, multiple people can access one web-based document and edit it in real time, and with video chat built into your mail, it's possible to have quality face time," Farber says.

Salesforce, of course, also believes that social will be big this year, playing into the hands of its new social focus with Chatter and Radian 6 at its core.

"In 2011, we saw long-established layers of hierarchical, email-led communication eroded by the shifting sands of social and mobile. In 2012 in Australia, we expect to see that trend continue and accelerate as organisations learn from the early adopters of 2011, and deploy deeper and deeper across the enterprise," Tony Armfield, VP enterprise sales, Salesforce ANZ says.

"Social and mobile have become the Wintel of the new world. Mobile development becomes a core competency rather than an outsourced specialty skill."

Companies will need to not broadcast, but to engage in a relationship driven by customers, Armfield says.

"Some of Australia's leading brands, such as Virgin Australia and Jetstar, already understand this, but many will follow in 2012."

Socialisation will change, but will not kill email, according to Citrix. IBM believes that socialisation and big data could mean that we will no longer get advertisements we find irrelevant.


These advances will bring their own issues. Citrix believes this year will be the year of the BYO devices data breach. A study the company ran says that 92 per cent of organisations had employees using their own devices for work.

"Despite IT departments' best efforts to formalise and regulate policies to enable use of consumer devices, we are seeing more evidence that mobile access to corporate documentation without centralised security or desktop virtualisation is flourishing," the company says.

"Unless formal technology policies around use of staff devices are adopted, it will not be a matter of if, but when, that a major consumerisation security breach will occur in 2012."

Meanwhile, IBM doesn't think that we'll be using a password anymore, with biological keys more likely. "Your biological make-up is the key to your individual identity, and soon it will become the key to safeguarding it. Each person's unique biometric data, such as facial definitions, retinal scans and voice files will be composited through software to build your DNA-unique online password. You will be able to log in to your mobile phone, or have access to an ATM ... by simply speaking your name or looking into a camera," it says.


Possibly the biggest theme of 2012 will be change. Bosnar says that adapting to change will be the most important capability that anyone working in the industry can obtain:

"The last several years have brought unprecedented change to enterprise computing. Numerous new desktop and application virtualisation technologies have appeared alongside traditional enterprise software-delivery techniques. Meanwhile, non-traditional devices such as the iPad have come along and changed everything. These developments fly in the face of the conventional wisdom that standardisation is the key to a well-performing and cost-efficient enterprise IT function. The steady ascent of employee-provided devices also undermines standardisation.

Should a user be able to launch a sensitive financial app using a personal iPad on an untrusted airport Wi-Fi network? The 'right' answer to questions like this will vary among different organisations, or even within the same organisation, as business priorities change over time. Flexibility is therefore the essential competency of an IT team in 2012.

What the security experts say


  • Intro
  • What the analysts say
  • What the telco experts say
  • What the enterprise experts say
  • What the security experts say

Security experts from Check Point, WatchGuard, Websense, Trend Micro, Kaspersky and Symantec have all weighed in with their predictions on what to be concerned about in 2012. While their views differ, there are a few central themes that most of them agree on.

Physical infrastructure is seen to be at risk, with WatchGuard expecting that at least one digital attack in 2012 will have significant repercussions: Stuxnet showed that we aren't only looking at theories anymore. Trend Micro chief technical officer, Raimund Genes, agrees, stating that certain hackers will go beyond stealing money and data and begin to go for non-traditional targets, medical supplies and equipment, for example. Symantec also expects the situation to escalate, given its opinion that the attackers behind Duqu weren't quite done yet.

The new employee culture of bringing your own device into the workplace is seen as a new challenge that organisations will have to deal with. Check Point says the problem is going to get bigger as staff start to use their smartphones to bypass corporate policies. WatchGuard says the devices will result in more data loss, and that BYO device practices might result in a clean-your-own-infection policy.

Genes points to mounting evidence of security and data-breach incidents directly attributable to improperly secured devices, and predicts that companies will be forced to address these issues in 2012. Symantec agrees, predicting that more businesses will adopt data-loss prevention solutions to monitor and control the transmission of confidential data from mobile devices.


(Model of a virus image by Tom Thai, CC2.0)

The apps on devices are also expected to become an issue. WatchGuard notes that app stores are a factor in the proliferation of mobile malware. It states that while some stores may be more vulnerable, none are immune. Kaspersky had a similar view, but points the finger at the Android marketplace, predicting that it, as well as the operating system, will be increasingly targeted by malware authors. A growing trend has been for cybercriminals to take legitimate apps, repackage them with malware and republish them on the marketplace. Genes says that another worrisome aspect is the existence of vulnerabilities in legitimate apps that could be exploited by hackers.

WatchGuard, Websense and Kaspersky express their concerns that mobile malware could start to become smarter, making use of geolocation services to track people. Using a mobile device's location information, cybercriminals could determine where victims live and possibly sell or use the information to launch socially engineered attacks.

Social engineering is also high on the lists of many security companies' concerns. Check Point predicts a rise in use of this attack vector, as hackers realise that they can use public information about a person to access more private information. WatchGuard predicts doom and gloom for Facebook if it doesn't increase its security, with Websense offering that social media identities may indeed become more valuable to criminals than credit cards, making Facebook a bigger attack target. Genes is also critical of the social-networking generation, stating that in a few years, privacy-conscious people will become the minority, making the situation worse.

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