Canalys outlines the key topics that will alter the IT industry

Canalys has announced an overview of key trends that will drive IT planning and development over the next two years. From the impact of major environmental crises, such as the BP oil spill and the Icelandic volcano eruption, to the changing role of energy, and cross-border business issues, the analyst firm maintains that IT vendors and resellers must move quickly to stay ahead of the game.

‘The IT industry has done well, despite the overall economic climate,’ said Canalys President and CEO Steve Brazier. ‘The question now is whether companies can plan and maintain growth while business disruption, globalization issues and fast-paced technological developments increase.’

A summary of some of the IT trends and business shifts that will drive discussion at the Canalys Channels Forum, include:

Globalization and business disruption: Global IT ambitions versus local laws and cultural issues will form the backdrop, as a difficult business planning environment emerges for the IT industry. For example, China is set to be the world’s largest PC market by 2011, yet both Google and Twitter are restricted there. Meanwhile, environmental crises, fluctuating energy costs, and fast-changing business and consumer IT needs will form new challenges and opportunities for the channel and the industry as a whole.

Reducing the consumer IT gap: Technologically, the office continues to fall behind the home. Watching Internet TV at home has become routine, as has video sharing, backing up to the cloud, remote printing, and a host of other solutions running across multiple devices. At work, these services have yet to be deployed, or have simply been banned. The technology gap will continue to widen unless CIOs find a way to meet security and compliance requirements without compromising technological adoption.

Mobile device mayhem: Apple launched the iPad in April and sold 3 million units in just 80 days, while the entrance of netbooks heralded the arrival of convergence as a major market force. Today, smart phones represent 20% of total mobile phone sales, and new device launches continue to make national and international headlines. Moving forward, vendors will aim to protect existing business, while attempting to identify or compete in new market sectors, potentially redefining the way devices are used and interact with each other.

The business of social networking: As consumer social networking has soared in popularity, many businesses have been keen to explore these services – or build their own – to reach out to different communities, including consumers, customers and partners. Likewise, corporate identities have appeared on consumer-focused sites, such as Facebook and Twitter. As companies explore the actual value of these services, social networking will continue to alter business communications.

Cloud computing – hot air or the next best thing: Is cloud computing the next disruptive technology, or nothing more than well-constructed hype to describe the natural evolution of technology? Cloud computing continues to grow in importance within IT deployments. At the same time, security issues increase, as companies contemplate public versus private clouds and regulation and compliance burdens. As companies seek its real implications, cloud computing will inevitably change the way IT is delivered over the next few years.

Harnessing the power of energy: Moore’s Law has correctly predicted the ever-increasing processing power of computers, at ever lower costs. Computers, however, are consuming more electricity in conjunction with rising prices and concerns about the future of our energy supplies. Energy efficiency is becoming one of the most important criteria in data centre design, demanding significant skills to evaluate alternative energy consumption and procurement scenarios.

Capitalizing on collaboration: Collaborative tools are considered the norm among the next-generation workforce. Many business leaders today have realized that if they fail to invest in collaborative tools they will be outpaced by competitors that can attract a better workforce and increase productivity. Beyond e-mail and telephony, collaboration is poised to evolve from the static tools of today to dynamically intelligent systems.

Data centre challenges: New technologies have made many companies re-think the way they develop and deploy their data centres. Transformation is clearly underway, but is not a seamless process. The technologies and solutions are complex and expertise is critical to success.

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