Giant Aussie 2009 predictions round-up

What will 2009 hold for Australia's ICT industry? We asked dozens of local leaders for their predictions; and this is what they came up with.

2009 new year

(Credit: 2009 is coming by Billy Alexander, royalty free)

2008 was a momentous year for Australia's ICT industry; issues such as the National Broadband Network, internet censorship, Hewlett-Packard's merger with EDS, the Gershon report, and ongoing huge IT roll-outs such as core banking systems kept everyone very occupied.

And that's not even considering the turmoil that the global economic crisis caused in Australia, with thousands of technology jobs heading down the tube; at least temporarily.

So what will 2009 hold for Australia's ICT industry? In an unscientific poll, we asked dozens of local leaders as well as IT workers and analysts for their predictions; and this is what they came up with. We'll check back on this article in December and see how our crystal ball gazers went. Feel free to post your own predictions below this article.

Anonymous Australian CIO

Uncertainty in the financial markets and political unrest in India will cause major businesses to review their outsourcing strategies. Collapse of a major international outsourcing company or major system failure through a terrorist act will lead to organisations consolidating their IT functions and bringing them closer to their base of operations.

In contrast to the US, where the national chief information officer will influence government policy, the Australian Government infrastructure stimulation packages will overlook the IT sector in favour of construction and distribution networks. The exception: e-health (hopefully).

Anonymous Australian IT worker

I believe the industry will settle down from the negativity that has been filling the press from last year and we will see good growth in terms of development projects in Australia.

Banks have merged and that is already sparking off large IT projects. The necessity for efficiency and greener services will trigger analysis projects and systems to measure improvements. We also realise that Australia is not in a recession like the US and other countries.

As long as people continue to reject the fear and negativity which the media keeps shoving down our throats for ratings and profit, and instead focus on creation, ingenuity and innovation, Australia and IT development in general could capitalise on a rare opportunity to shine above much of the rest of the world's cloudiness and create a lot of great software and services to help others, stimulating growth and producing creative projects for thousands of people.

I hope Australian leaders have the guts and vision to focus on the positive side and build upon the strength, human creativity and systems infrastructure which is already in place and take it to a higher level and start putting creative and positive messages into the media to add fuel to the creative fire, rather than throwing sopping wet blankets on top of it just because America is.

The Australian IT industry has the freedom to create itself in whatever direction it imagines, so long as the Australian spirit of 'having a go' prevails and we continue to see leaders and entrepreneurs stimulating activity and trusting their teams.

Carlton Taya, Avaya South Pacific MD

This year will herald an even heightened focus on extracting business benefits from investments in communications technologies. Companies that are committed to improving operational efficiency will look to enhance or refresh their enterprise communications systems with a focus on making it easier for their staff to interact and collaborate with their customers as well as each other.

Today's enterprises are more likely to adopt technology systems that have a lasting positive impact on the way they do business. CIOs will be challenged to create business value with smaller budgets; subsequently they will be turning to technology that can deliver measurable value, is compatible with existing business processes, and can be expanded and developed in stages as financial budgets allow.

Challenging economic times can provide the trigger for vendors, CIOs and IT staff to be more innovative with new technology systems and focus organisations on ensuring that new communications applications are actually adopted by the workforce.

Craig Scroggie, Symantec A/NZ MD

Some of the key security trends which Symantec expects to see in 2009 include an increase in the number of new web-based threats and an explosion of new malware variants. As there are now more malicious programs created than legitimate programs, emerging threats such as malware variants have given rise to the need for new, complementary detection methods such as reputation-based security approaches.

The global economic crisis will continue to be the basis of new attacks and attackers may also exploit other types of fraudulent activity around economic issues such as emails that promise the ability to easily get a mortgage or refinance. There will also continue to be an uptake in activity in threats related to social networking sites.

Another trend we expect to see is virtualisation technology being incorporated into security solutions to provide an environment isolated and protected from the chaos of a general purpose operating system environment.

The global economic crisis will continue to be the basis of new attacks

Symantec A/NZ MD Craig Scroggie

Symantec expects data breaches to continue to increase in 2009. A survey commissioned by Symantec in 2008 revealed that more than 79 per cent of Australian organisations who responded have experienced some form of data breach. The significance of this data is truly spotlighted after realising that it only took nine months in 2008 to reach the 2007 total. In many cases, inadvertent employee mishandling of sensitive information and insecure business processes are the most common ways that data is exposed.

From a storage perspective, organisations are turning to technologies like thin provisioning to make better use of existing storage.

As organisations increasingly need to save money, they are looking for potential areas of optimisation. By working with an SaaS provider for backup, they can eliminate the burden of maintaining, operating and supporting backup software and hardware. In addition, organisations will continue to adopt 'open' hypervisors like Hyper-V as they will discover that traditional approaches will limit the ability to maximise assets and reap the benefits of server virtualisation.

Many organisations are also shifting their focus to finding more efficient technologies that manage complexity while reducing resources. At Symantec, we see that 2009 will bring with it many opportunities for our customers to streamline IT processes and better leverage IT investments by rationalising products and reducing the amount of vendors they buy from.

Chris Disspain, auDA CEO

Later this year it will be possible for countries around the world to register their ccTLD in non-Latin script. So, China will be able to have the equivalent of .cn in Chinese and India the equivalent of .in in a number of the 12 different scripts in use there. This is going to dramatically increase the number of people who have access to the internet that is currently limited by the requirement for an, at least, basic understanding of the Latin alphabet and the ability to switch languages or scripts on the computers keyboard.

The introduction of these 'internationalised' domain names taken together with applications opening for new gTLDs (perhaps .shop or .law and even .ebay and .google) will see a significant increase in the domain name space and a massive increase in internet usage (this is likely to double from 1 to 2 billion by the end of 2010). This in turn is going to lead to an increased demand for relevant content.

David Jackman, Pronto Software MD

2009 is likely to see strong and mature Australian ICT vendors buck the trend of an otherwise challenging year — Pronto Software is a good example of this. We ended 2008 with a solid performance in terms of revenue and cash, and we are expecting the same momentum to flow through into 2009.

We are optimistic because we are seeing a shift in customer and prospect focus to real value-added business benefits. For many, it involves careful ROI assessment and true cost/benefits analysis — pragmatic suppliers like us tend to perform well in this environment as reality takes over from marketing hype.

Pragmatic suppliers like us tend to perform well in this environment as reality takes over from marketing hype

Pronto Software MD David Jackman

Just a short time ago the biggest limitation facing most companies was the lack of quality staff and in retaining and motivating these staff. Now many have turned to attacking their staff as a cost to be reduced. The smart companies today are building for the future recovery in that they recognise now is the time to do the things they didn't have time to do previously. They aim to upgrade their business systems so that they have an improved ability to scale up in the future when things get better and they therefore avoid many of the staff limitations they had previously.

The one complexity that holds some back from following this course is the restriction of financing options and therefore cash is king in allowing those with cash to invest in building their future. This means that the basic rules of the jungle will apply — the fit and fast (in terms of cash and vision) will get bigger and stronger whilst the less fit will struggle.

A further prediction will be a repeat of behaviour that has been evident in previous recessions — overseas parents will cut deeper in far away places like Australia as they struggle to maintain momentum in their home market. When prospects observe this they will become increasingly nervous about working with overseas-based suppliers. As we are Australian-based and have no borrowings, we are positioned well to assist these businesses as they look for local trusted suppliers.

Deena Shiff, Telstra Business group MD

For 2009, the focus for small to medium enterprises (SMEs) will be less about new 'breakthrough' technology and more about generating productivity savings by better using the range of technology available. SMEs will become more network-centric as Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) becomes more prevalent.

In times of economic uncertainty, SaaS allows business to avoid capital outlay, minimise investment risks and have more certainty in their IT costs. Other big trends in 2009 will be a continued shift towards SMEs becoming more net-savvy/dependent, continued growth in wireless broadband and through that the workforce becoming even more mobile. In summary, SMEs are looking to reduce costs and risks, to improve flexibility and to get more value from their IT investment.

Dereck Daymond, Sybase A/NZ MD

I see a slow start to the year as businesses evaluate the effects of the global economic crisis. IT companies will look to curtail expenses as much as possible in the early part of the year and there will most likely be some staff laid off. I believe we will see an improvement in IT spending and rolling out of IT projects as we approach the end of calendar Q2 or end of financial year for many businesses around the June time frame.

Although it is very difficult to predict what will happen with any certainty, I do believe we will see the economy pick up in the second half of the year and more spending on IT as companies look to improve their competitive advantage through the effective use of IT. Throughout the year there will be more mergers and acquisitions as those companies with healthy balance sheets look for bargains.

Doug Farber, APAC VP, operations

2009 will see more companies make cloud computing services — such as those from, Amazon and Google — a critical part of their business strategy.

Principally, companies will look to cut costs — or capital expenditure — in 2009. It should go unsaid that in times like these, IT departments need to prove their efficiencies more than ever. But many companies think more about minimising costs and risks than they do about maximising opportunities and efficiencies. That's perhaps why the Federal Government has introduced tax breaks for companies who purchase new assets in the next six months.

It's important though for Australian companies to keep the future in their sights because they will need to resource adequately for when the market does eventually improve. Technically speaking, cloud computing presents the immediate and essentially infinite ability to grow capacity in response to demand. It can also enable companies to experiment with the knowledge that unsuccessful initiatives can be switched off without any significant effect on the bottom line.

In Australia, we're really seeing some great examples of cloud computing playing an integral part in the enterprise. Companies like St George Bank and Altium have adopted our model based on the successes we've seen in the SMB market over the last few years. For the first time, we're seeing cloud computing being implemented not for cloud computing's sake, but because companies have realised that it competes strongly on scalability, price, ROI and overall business process improvement.

But it goes beyond the technology. This year, we'll see resellers get a better handle on how to market, sell and service their customers in the cloud. Companies such as NEC and Telstra launched their own cloud computing offerings this year and we've just seen Google launch a reseller program in Australia. 2009 will mark a real maturity and acceptance of the cloud model.

Geoffrey Dirago, Attain IT GM

I am expecting the broader ICT industry to feel like it has a hangover. A groggy start to the morning, some uncertain feelings about health in the middle of the day and then an improvement later in the day.

Those, like Attain IT, who managed risk, debt and customer relationships properly before this macro impact started should recover from the early hangover effects quite quickly. I would expect such organisations to simply be a little less exuberant this year. However, organisations whose emphasis was strongly on leveraging bull market opportunities may find the sort of projects which have sustained them to be thin on the ground for the next six to 12 months.

I don't believe many ICT firms in Australia have directly felt much of this hangover yet, but many should be aware that it is coming.

Specifics being more valuable than generalisations, Attain IT has found itself quite well-placed. Market conditions ... we anticipate suit two kinds of firms; the first are those like Attain, who have no debt, very tight relationships with customers and provide essential services which will be sustained during downturns due to their clear value to the customer. The second are cashed up organisations that have been keen to acquire. Obtaining customers and skilled staff through acquisition should be cheaper and easier for such firms this year.

The losers will be those who have made their profits from larger, non-essential projects which get delayed in quieter economic times. Those organisations that put their focus simply on projects rather than relationships and long-term value to customers will have a worse hangover experience in 2009. Such organisations will find it too late to reinvent themselves and will likely be required to shed staff.

In broad terms, I also anticipate ICT to remain a popular choice for graduates and new entrants in comparison to other industries. ICT should ride out 2009 in equal or better terms than many industries and avoid some of the headline-grabbing catastrophe elements of industries such as financial services and resources have experienced.

Gerard Florian, Dimension Data Australia CTO

Much ink has been spilled lately about the dreaded 'D' word — the downturn — and what it means for IT spend in 2009. A lot of projects and budgets are being reviewed, but we need to look at where we've been over the last few years to understand where we're going now.

Today IT infrastructure carries most organisations. It's the foundation for communication, production and commercial transactions. IT departments have been delivering a service that 'just works' and as a result, business confidence in IT has increased.

This means that in most cases, it's simply not possible to drastically cut IT spend, because too much depends on it. However, while confidence has increased, so too has the rigour around payback and ROI. Finance wants a shorter payback time and reduced risk. Pilots and phased roll-outs have replaced 'big bang' projects.

The real 'D' word for IT in 2009 will be 'discretionary'. Therefore this year's spend will focus more on operations than technology:

  • The major change in 2009 will lie in sourcing. There's been much focus on large organisations and their shift from a single outsource to multi-source engagements, but the big mover in 2009 will be medium to large enterprises who currently in-source. Cost pressures will drive the need for cheaper ways of running IT operations. Managed services in areas like the network and the desktop will be a growth area in 2009.

  • Cost management in areas like travel will accelerate the adoption of conferencing technologies — including video, audio and web technologies. Reducing cost through better process will also feature in many IT plans.

  • CIOs will be more meticulous about capacity planning and asset management. Organisations will wait as long as possible before increasing bandwidth, licences, storage capacity etc. To make this work you must know what inventory you have and its utilisation, life-expectancy and compliance requirements.

  • Enterprise architecture will become a key focus. Once there's a vision and a plan to get your architecture right, funding will dictate the pace of change. Mature organisations will implement their plans in a phased manner over time, ensuring they are well-placed for the next phase in the economic cycle.

If you'd drawn up a similar list of trends six months ago, it would probably look pretty similar to the one above. The future remains largely unchanged by recent economic events. How quickly we get there will depend on business needs and IT's ability to align itself with those needs.

Greg Spears, Vodafone spokesperson

2009 will be the year that mobile internet applications, mobile advertising, GPS and location-based services enter the mainstream and fundamentally change the way business and personal customers use and consume data.

James Turner, IBRS analyst

I think that in Australia we will see many IT departments moving away from fringe technologies. Given the layoffs to date, as well as those which are forecast for the Australian economy, it will be too expensive to retain suitably skilled people for these fringe technologies. Supporting small pockets of fringe technologies is expensive because this cost is over and above the need to support pre-existing, and more widely adopted, technologies which have much larger gene pools of qualified IT professionals.

Sadly, Linux is an example of this. IT departments will be looking at their headcount and skill coverage and asking themselves if they can really afford to make the nice-to-have technologies, like Linux, a part of their operational direction for the next 12-24 months. Not because there is anything wrong with the technology, but why keep on extra people who are focused on a small area, or even have your core team having to maintain proficiency in two knowledge areas, when the mainstream technologies are good enough?

There will be a few small companies, and perhaps even one or two larger ones, which will be rebels and go all out for Linux and their argument will be licensing. And they will make a lot of noise, and we will hear about them, but we will hear about them precisely because they will be the exception to the rule.

This year, you can have any operating system as long as it's Windows

IBRS analyst James Turner

It's going to be all about economies of scale: as Henry Ford said, you can have any colour as long as it's black. This year, you can have any operating system as long as it's Windows — because it's going to be easy and cheap to find people with good Windows skills.

Secondly, the impact of the economic downturn in the US will mean that most of the vendors will streamline their Australian operations as part of global cost cutting. For the smaller vendors this will possibly even mean closing shop here. For the larger vendors, they will let go of some local back office functions and even professional services personnel including engagement and/or project managers.

So it will be a really bad time to be kicking off any large projects which substantially rely on fringe technologies where there isn't a wide and deep skilled workforce at your disposal. As well as your own vendor management people, having stable, senior people on the vendor side is a must (particularly project management). But it will be a great time for contractors and consultants who can work on a purely ad-hoc basis. But then it's always been a good time for people who can work like that.

And next week's lotto numbers are ...

Joe Kremer, Dell Australia MD

CIOs and IT managers will be looking for value now more than ever in 2009 as they look to improve productivity and cut costs. Getting the most out of their IT dollars will be the biggest challenge of 2009. To this end, organisations will continue to invest in virtualisation solutions and they will deploy more iSCSI-based storage.

Green IT will also hit mainstream even more as companies explore ways to cut costs and increase efficiency.

Kevin McIsaac, IBRS analyst

In the area of IT infrastructure my top prediction is: the impact of global economic downturn means that through 2009, and early 2010, all IT infrastructure projects will be closely scrutinised and only low-risk projects will clear and immediate benefits will be funded.

This will translate into: continued funding for server virtualisation projects, which have a strong track record of lowering hardware costs while delivering improved high availability and DR capability. Despite strong interest, most virtual desktop initiatives will not go beyond the proof of concept stage, due to a lack of financial or business benefit, with the exception of a few niche cases such as providing a secured desktop to offshore developers.

Organisations will look more closely at how storage is used in an attempt to get more life out of existing capacity rather than simply adding more disks. Due to a lack of staff, and tools, many will turn to trusted third parties to help with an assessment.

Laurel Papworth, social networks strategist

2009 will see Australian companies embrace social media with a much more strategic focus. Blogs will be seen as a way of building a communication channel directly to interested parties without having to rely on press releases being opened or journalists picking up a story.

While the first half of the year will focus on blogs for the sake of 'social media press releases', by years' end, a number of notable companies will have developed substantial social media assets online and moved from 'one way' to engagement in discussion. The current temptation to use a video blog site such as YouTube as a broadcast medium will diminish and forward-thinking, collaborative conversations will take its place.

While you can't blog on Facebook, its power as an audience builder will be recognised. Blogs (in fact, any press release) are challenged in building and sustaining an audience, but luckily Facebook has that built in. So, instead of Facebook being seen as a time waster, like email was in the mid 1990's, the 4 million+ adult Australians in that social network will place Facebook at the top of business-critical marketing, recruitment and communication strategies. In fact, Facebook's role as primarily a connector and distributor of information will be incorporated into both external and internal comms directions.

Email, SMS and mobile phones heralded a time of news being almost instantaneous. We moved from a nine-to-five work lifestyle to checking email in front of the evening television program and SMSing colleagues after hours. Now, synchronous tools make all news instant and ambient. Twitter and similar real-time tools bring a flow of information in a continuous stream. Unlike email and Facebook and blogs that are asynchronous, Twitter and Yammer provide industry news, business relationship news and personal news instantly and on demand, we dip in and out in a constant motion.

Mark Phibbs, Adobe APAC marketing director

2009 will be a difficult year for Australia's ICT industry and the industry will be challenged more than ever to demonstrate return on investment for any new IT investment. I would expect the first half to be very challenged and for things to start and improve towards the end of 2009, with two bright spots being government and education, where government recession-busting expenditure will cause these sectors to increase their share of the overall pie.

Melbourne IT spokesperson

One of Melbourne IT's key predictions for 2009 is an increase in the take up of cost-effective digital marketing services such as pay-per-click and email marketing due to global financial uncertainty.

Melbourne IT's chief technology officer, Dr Bruce Tonkin, believes digital marketing will grow as the downturn in the global economy causes businesses of all sizes to reassess expenditure and redirect their spending away from more traditional marketing initiatives towards cost-effective online marketing tools which give measurable returns, such as pay-per-click advertising and DIY email marketing applications.

Online marketing solutions are a lower-cost alternative to printing direct mail campaigns or collateral and have the ability to target specific markets and measure return on investment more effectively.

Other areas that we believe will be key trends in 2009 include a shift of IT services into the cloud, an increased awareness of the environmental impact of IT from customers, growth in mobile advertising, growth in internet crime and a greater emphasis on and awareness of the need for digital brand protection.

Neerav Bhatt, blogger, librarian, internet marketer

Towards the latter part of 2008 quite a few entrepreneurs, start-ups and business owners/consultants in the Australian ICT sector emerged from their offices and began to meet and socialise in person at events like Silicon Beach Australia Friday drinks, Pubcamp and Barcamp

My prediction based on recent discussions with people like @kcarruthers and blog posts like It feels like there's a community forming is that as a result there will be a lot more collaboration in the Australian IT industry, especially amongst small/medium-sized businesses.

Sarah Carter, FaceTime Communications

Collaboration will move towards the mainstream. Whether this is through enterprise collaboration tools such as Microsoft OCS, IBM Sametime or the Cisco Jabber/Webex toolset or through a combination of publicly available tools — from LinkedIn to Facebook, to Twitter, to Windows Live, Skype et al.

It will move towards the mainstream, as we all seek to consolidate. Whether that's our phone lines into VoIP, our staff numbers or consolidating security tools from multiple tools to lesser boxes at the gateway.

In seeking the economies that this collaboration and consolidation (save money, save time, save support costs) gives us, we'll actually end up working smarter and more effectively.

(My glass is definitely half full, not half empty!)

Paul Harapin, VMware A/NZ MD

With the focus on the economy moving into 2009, Australian organisations are looking to IT technologies that help do more with less. Anything that helps drive operational efficiency while significantly reducing capex and opex ... will be paramount.

[A large percentage] of organisations in Australia have or are in the process of implementing virtualisation solutions to achieve these business benefits. Additionally, we will see more organisations (currently 27 per cent locally) such as the Attorney General's Department and Suncorp, adopt "virtualisation first policies" to help drive longer term efficiencies into their IT infrastructure.

Green IT is still high on the radar, and as Australian organisations focus more on both the measurement and reporting aspects of carbon trading, they will begin to seriously investigate technologies that will allow them to reduce their carbon footprint and prepare for carbon emissions regulation in Australia.

We will see more organisations such as Darwin City Council, significantly reduce their carbon emission footprint through virtualisation. And lastly, social networking infrastructure will gain greater traction within organisations as a way to build culture and disseminate information both internally and externally.

Peter McAlpine, Adobe Australia MD

I felt there were two key predictions for the Australian ICT industry.

Firstly, the further development of rich internet applications and the cloud computing space — this also ties into the desktop application development, where AIR and Flex are key technologies.

Secondly, cost-effective digital marketing — in challenging economic times, getting the most from your marketing investments takes on new urgency for all businesses.

Driving sales, building customer engagement, and enhancing the perception of your brand are critical — and with shrinking budgets and smaller staffs, doing more with less is essential. Marketers will look to use tools that create once and deliver to any medium — print, web, video and mobile, as these offer dramatic productivity gains and deliver quantifiable ROI.

Rob Mackinnon, IBRS analyst

For the Chinese, 2009 is the Year of the Ox. How fitting that successful CIOs will be down to earth, practical and diligent in carrying out their duties in 2009. Two Ox-like characteristics will prevail:

  • Caution: this will be particularly true in dealings with vendors. Whilst wholesale changes are unlikely to occur, CIOs will be extremely cautious in selecting new vendors and/or re-engaging existing vendors at renewal time. Why? Because seismic shifts are occurring in vendor-land. The Satyam scandal has triggered concerns about the true financial viability of sub-continent-based IT organisations. Nortel has been granted bankruptcy protection in Canada, its home base. Will Sun's decline reach its nadir in 2009?

  • Similarly, caution will prevail in launching new projects unless the benefits are blindingly obvious. Adopting new or emerging technologies will be similarly fraught. Thus, unified communications is likely to be marginalised in 2009 but server virtualisation will continue to prosper, provided the benefits can be 'banked'.

  • Methodical and detail-oriented: in over 30 years of involvement with IT management, the current degree of scrutiny and control over IT budgets is totally unprecedented. Budget excesses overlooked in previous years will not be pardoned in 2009. Micro-management of IT capital and expense budgets will prevail. Early warning beacons will be put in place to contain blow-outs early and savvy CIOs will strengthen governance practises.

Paul Fitzgerald, GHS consulting director

I think the industry will do just fine if we ignore the media and politicians, and just get on with it ... I'm with Sarah ... glass half full!

Steve Hitchman, MIP MD

I believe that in 2009, due to new techniques and software, the cost of data warehousing and business intelligence will drop by at least 60-70 per cent in both time and money.

Warren Chaisatien, Telsyte research director

Telsyte's top 10 list for Australia's telecom market in 2009 is:

  • Counter-cyclical telecom service providers to gain as the economy slows;
  • Green telecom to remain top of mind, driven by cost savings, good corporate citizenship and the prospect of carbon trading;
  • Rapid increase in business partner networks as the slowdown accelerates collaboration;
  • Hosted unified communications (UC) to thrive, particularly among small and medium businesses;
  • Mobility to become the next UC element, bridging back-office UC deployment with mobile line-of-business application roll-outs;
  • Invasion of consumer applications in the enterprise, bringing powerful multimedia and social network capabilities to business;
  • Contact centre functionality to become commonplace across the organisation;
  • Year of mobile content fuelled by next-generation smartphones, dropping mobile data charges and user preference to go off deck;
  • Birth of an advertising-subsidised mobile market, powered by location-based technology; and
  • Ethernet over copper to emerge as ADSL2+ speeds stall and fibre remains absent on the horizon.

Tracey Fellows, Microsoft Australia MD

Cloud computing
This year, we will see much talked-about technology become a reality. There has been considerable hype around cloud computing, and in 2009 this will become a reality for businesses, as well as consumers that want to connect their personal, home and business lives no matter where they are.

One of the benefits of cloud computing is the ability for an organisation to move applications back and forth between its own servers and the cloud quickly and seamlessly, in order to reduce hardware costs, take full advantage of new capabilities and to meet changing capacity demands — all very relevant benefits in today's economic climate as well.

Later this year we will be launching Microsoft Online Services through Telstra's T-Suite. Instead of a business having to buy, install and maintain a computer server for messaging (email and calendar) and collaboration, these services will now be fully hosted by Telstra and Microsoft. Our new Windows 7 beta also makes it easier for consumers to manage devices and access their 'stuff' across multiple devices, and in any location, while Microsoft's Live Mesh enables consumers to access the most up-to-date version of their files on any device.

In 2009, as debate around the Federal Government's $2 billion Digital Education Revolution continues, parents, teachers, students and the media will be engaged in discussion around the changing role and importance of technology in education. While there is a long way to go, we will begin to see in earnest the kind of pedagogical change in education that is necessary to ensure our children are well-equipped for the future.

'Staycations' and home entertainment
Another interesting trend we'll see in 2009 is people spending more nights in front of the box — and I'm not necessarily talking television. Tough economic times mean people may pull back on many luxuries, but spend more on goods that make the home a more enjoyable place. This is where webcams, entertainment-skewed PCs, and gaming products will continue to perform. We call this the idea of kitting out one's home, a 'staycation' (stay at home vacation).

Hard data speaks to this trend — Xbox 360 sales in Australia were the best ever over the 2008 Christmas period and we expect them to continue to grow in 2009.

Wendy Reid, EMC A/NZ marketing director

Improving efficiency will be one of the major objectives for businesses of all sizes in 2009. With the explosion of information set to continue, and organisations being under pressure to reduce spending, new ways will have to be found to do more with less.

In 2009, businesses will continue to look to virtualisation to simplify information management processes, while cloud-delivered applications will also present opportunities to lower operating costs and drive business efficiencies.

De-duplication technology will be another way businesses will enhance efficiency in 2009. If businesses reduce the amount of redundant data, their back-up environments will become faster and more secure, enabling senior technical staff to focus on other business critical areas.

In essence, taking on the best practice of virtualisation, de-duplication and consolidation of storage will enable organisations to optimise service levels cost effectively, and enable organisations to continue to drive profitability.