Predictions 2012: Slates, skills shortages and internet regulation

As the internet dominates the way we do business in 2012, the debate about how it should be regulated will intensify, says Microsoft MD Paul Muckleston

In 2012 expect to see strong competition in the slate market, ICT skills shortages and an increasing focus on internet regulation, writes Microsoft NZ managing director Paul Muckleston in the following opinion piece.

2012 will be an exciting year for technology as new innovation is released in the tech sector. Strong competition will start to emerge in the slate market in the course of the year. People will do even more of their communications over the internet as technology that was released over the last few years becomes more widespread at home and at work. The New Zealand market for search and search advertising will continue to grow rapidly.

Workplaces that use productivity tools that are more than five years will find that their employees want more agile and productive technology, inspired by what they use at home. It's really won't be fun going back to 2001's Internet Explorer 6 at work if you're using Internet Explorer 10 at home!

This will continue to drive people to bring their own technology to work. It will push businesses to simplify so that they can get up to date. Businesses will start to adopt new tools such as cloud-based device management to keep up with the growing variety of smart devices. And once they get modern ICT in place, we'll see businesses start to give employees much more choice about the hours they work and where they work.

As part of this, the tone of discussion about cloud computing will mature as businesses realise that the cloud has arrived and most of what they do today can be done better, cheaper and with less risk using reputable cloud services based in New Zealand or offshore.

People will become impatient for more broadband to take advantage of new services at home and at work.

Tech skills shortages will continue to be acute in ICT growth areas, and people who keep up with new developments this year and those that emerge in 2012 will be in demand. At the same time a rewarding ICT career demands constant learning. People need to make sure they understand the implications of current developments in technology so that they can prepare themselves with new skills. This will help them remain valuable to employers as technology inexorably becomes more automated and some problems like deploying virtualisation become simple to solve.

Outside work, more people will expect to be able to do all their shopping and personal business online, creating new challenges for organisations that lag in embracing service delivery over the internet.

When using the internet, people will be increasingly enticed into filter bubbles that are quietly created for them based on machine perceptions of who they are and what they want to hear. If we’re not careful this could lead to gradual polarisation in our society as people find it more comfortable to reinforce views they already have rather than seeking to understand different opinions that might feel less comforting.

The policy debate about internet regulation will reach new intensity in 2012. Most people would agree there are some problems, but it’s not always easy to find consensus on the answers. Criminals are figuring out how to exploit the internet for profit, and worse. On the plus side, global data flows will increase and offer new social and economic benefits. Trends like these will increase demand for globally interoperable approaches to advance the internet. Internet policy will require careful research and enduring principles-based solutions. We will achieve those lofty goals in the end, although maybe not before the end of 2012!

I’m looking forward to what the year ahead will bring New Zealand, and the discussions we will continue to have!

* This fortnight Computerworld is featuring a series of opinion pieces by leading ICT professionals in which they look at what's in store for 2012. Tomorrow: Salvation Army IT Manager Mark Bennett and Nokia Siemens country director Andrew Button.

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