Ten Internet Trends To Watch

    March 25, 2005

Wouldn’t it be great to have a good handle on what will happen this year to make sure you could plan around it? asks Mitchell Levy, CEO and executive editor of Happy About, a US publisher of books for corporations.

In his latest book, Knowing What to Expect in 2005: Predictions from Over 50 Executives, Levy offers ten trends that he says software vendors need to factor into their business plans for the year ahead. He includes opinions from key technology business executives in the US, and sketches out the implications for those vendors.

While Levy’s trends are aimed at the software industry, anyone in almost any business area would find these trends of interest. Here’s the trends overview (bold text) with my comments:

  1. Voice over internet protocol (VOIP) goes mainstream. Look at the growth of internet phone services like Skype and Teleo, and what increasing numbers of third-party providers are doing to develop offerings that complement these services (but also see this somewhat different view from Om Malik).
  2. China’s power and world economic influence grows. According to the World Economic Forum, China’s GDP is projected to exceed Germany’s by 2006. China’s deepening trade relationship with Japan, Korea and the ASEAN nations has positioned the country as the region’s new growth driver. And, a BBC poll in early March shows that China’s influence on the world is seen as positive by more people than is the case for the US or Russia.
  3. Working at home goes mainstream while small business thrives. There’s a connection here, too, with people who once would have been thought of as being in the twilight of their working lives carving out second or even third careers as small businesses owners. More at the TrendTracker by Small Business Trends.
  4. Offshoring activity picks up. “My sense is that, while the issue may not be so big today in terms of the numbers, we are on the cusp of what is a massive transformation that it is very difficult to get one’s arms around” – Jeffrey Garten, Dean of Yale School of Management, speaking in a McKinsey Offshoring Roundtable last year.
  5. As the world shrinks, the world market expands. But a modest slowdown in all regions is expected in 2005, says the United Nations in its World Economic Situation and Prospects 2005. Overall, the UN says, prospects continue to be good, but global imbalances pose a potential threat to which a global response is required.
  6. Technology stocks increase in value. A useful place to track tech stock trends is Global Stock Trends and its stocks to watch charts.
  7. Cell phones look more and more like PDAs and vice versa. More and more people see this, too. Gosh, even I’ve been saying this (and this as well).
  8. Blogging and social networking become accepted business tools. The use of blogs by and within organizations is steadily increasing, although there’s still not much trusted statistical info on growth or trends. This article in Fortune magazine in January and this article in CMO Magazine this month are good indicator of what’s happening now and what’s coming soon – among the reasons why I continue to say that 2005 will be the year of the corporate blog.
  9. Continued sophistication in corporate internet usage. This is all about building closer relationships with customers. That’s much, much more than the 90s e-commerce website model, and new communication tools like blogs will undoubtedly play a key role.
  10. Enterprises increasingly demand flexible solutions. This trend has been building for some time, with organizations looking hard at the ongoing total cost of ownership of their enterprise software and changing from the traditional and costly buy/upgrade cycle to ‘renting’ applications as needed. eWeek has a good look at this as preparation for The Enterprise Strikes Back, a virtual seminar next week for CIOs and CTOs about the changing enterprise software business.

See Levy’s trends in detail at Sandhill.com.

Visit Happy About.

Neville Hobson is the author of the popular NevilleHobson.com blog which focuses on business communication and technology.

Neville is currentlly the VP of New Marketing at Crayon. Visit Neville Hobson’s blog: NevilleHobson.com.