Analyst and vendor predictions may be thin on detail when it comes to predicting the relatively near future, though they all seem to to agree that the Internet of Things and increasing digitization of nearly every aspect of business will have a huge impact on the world of IT during the next few years.
IDC and Gartner, Inc. tried to fill in a few of the gaps this week with reports that name some of the likely winners and losers of the next wave of disruptive technology.
Both insist most of the impact will be positive, but also highlight ways some early adopters will embrace new technologies in ways that avoid most of their benefits.
IDC takes on the global impact of the Internet of Things (IoT) by estimating which countries are in position to benefit the most and which have barriers that will make evolution more difficult.
"IDC expects the IoT technology and services halo effect on business to generate global revenue from $4.8 trillion in 2012 to $8.9 trillion by 2020, growing at a 7.9 percent [compound annual growth rate]," according to Vernon Turner, senior VP of Infrastructure and Sustainability research at IDC.
Nations that are members of theGroup of Twenty – those whose economies are among the world's largest and which collectively account for more than 85 percent of the gross world product – will also get the greatest benefit from the IoT.
The United States is at the top of the list, followed at No. 2 by South Korea, according to IDC. The massive cellular-phone industry in South Korea and the push in the U.S. for more widespread 4G/LTE services will be the drivers there.
The IoT will involve approximately 212 billion things by the end of 2020, including intelligent systems designed to keep track of their own status and report it, as well as the continuing digitization of cities, cars and houses.
Characteristics that will hold countries back include the lack of a ubiquitous wireless infrastructure for those things to talk across, lack of standards defining how they speak to each other, the potential that they will swamp either the networks or applications that serve them and priorities that put little money or effort behind broad new technology efforts, Turner said.
IDC did not release the rest of the list publicly.
Gartner's slightly more jaundiced predictions focus not on making dumb things smarter, but the ways both dumb and smart that humans use that technology.
By 2017, for example, big-data analytics will allow 40 percent of utilities that use smart metering systems to run detailed analyses of usage patterns, their available assets and how both relate to the utility's need to increase profits – possibly for the first time.
On the other hand, by 2015, 80 percent of life-sciences organizations – biotechs, pharmaceuticals, medical-equipment makers or services organizations – will "be crushed by elements of big data, exposing poor ROI on IT investments."
By 2018, 20 percent of the revenue brought in by the 100 largest manufacturers will come from innovations coming largely from other industries. By the end of 2017, at least seven of the world's top 10 multichannel retailers (online/brick-and-mortar) will be selling products they create themselves on the spot using 3D printers.
Also by 2018, 3D printing will cause designers, manufacturers, retailers and suppliers to lose at least $100 billion per year in intellectual property to print-your-own consumers or businesses.
In 2013, despite occasional complaints about NSA surveillance, government shutdowns, modernizing healthcare and spotty management of the economy, we are in the salad days of the conversion to a mobile, digitally connected economy.
By the end of 2015, however, poor return-on-investment will drive insurance companies to abandon 40 percent of the mobile apps they've designed to attract and keep customers. By 2017, despite the promise – to marketers – of the rich prospects to be found using detailed profiles of shoppers assembled online and in the real world to send context-and location-aware offers to specific individuals just when they're most ready to buy, only 15 percent of consumers will have responded to such offers, no matter how artfully precise the targeting, according to Gartner.
"Many industries will face intense challenges in 2014 and beyond, and will have no choice but to radically change their established business models," according to Gartner analyst and VP Kimberly Harris-Ferrante.
Being willing, or even able to adapt to the challenge of consumer empowerment and market commoditization doesn't guarantee success, she said.
To keep from drowning in all the progress, companies need to anticipate not only the need for change, but the possibility of having to throw out one new era in favor of another next year, or that even successful changes won't be marred by changes in behavior from customers or competitors that reduce or negate some of that success. Image:Shutterstock.com/ Lightspring