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Predicting technology trends has become more challenging: panel

At a discussion on Day 2 of Nasscom India Leadership Forum, panelists agreed that while it is important to predict technology trends, the horizon of that prediction has shrunk vastly.

twitter-logo Goutam Das        Last Updated: February 14, 2013  | 16:39 IST

Tectonic shifts are par for the course in today's technology landscape. So, are technology predictions redundant? Business Today Editor Chaitanya Kalbag moderated a panel discussion around this question on day two of the Nasscom India Leadership Forum in Mumbai, on Thursday. The panelists were Christoph Baeck, head of IT Asia at European construction equipment company Hilti; Gerald Hohne, Vice President of IT Services at German company SMA Solar Technology; and Manu Parpia, MD and CEO of Indian IT solutions company Geometric.

By the end of the session, the panelists had reached a unanimous conclusion. While it is important to predict technology trends , the horizon of that prediction has shrunk vastly. Enterprises must therefore prepare and cope with unexpected disruptions.

The panelists cited different examples to demonstrate the redundancy of predictions. "Today, everybody is talking about 3D Printing and how it can change the face of manufacturing," said Parpia. "Ten years back, people said it was esoteric, expensive and hobbyist." 3D printing is a process of manufacturing where rather than ink, printers deposit layers of material to create a solid object from a digital model. Prices have dropped with growing adoption and the talk suggests that such printers can help car manufacturers quickly customise vehicles for even a single customer, going ahead. "Could you have predicted this a few years back? No," concluded Parpia.

Hohne said that a few years earlier, analysts had made predictions about the bright future of 'thin clients'. He was referring to a network PC without a hard disk drive that does its processing off the server. "Thin clients haven't taken off in the way predicted," he pointed out. "Consumerisation has meant that employees now prefer to use tablets for daily work," he added.

The increasing use of personal devices at the workplace is a trend typically referred to as "consumerisation of IT". Christoph Baeck felt that the closer the world moves towards consumerisation, the more difficult and unpredictable technology predictions will be. The proliferation of newer and newer consumer devices and the pace at which earlier devices become redundant makes things difficult for a company's IT department.

The pace of change also implies higher level challenges for a company's IT department. "IT departments will have to give up control. Employees don't want to work with the standardised devices we may provide. They want to bring their own device," he said.

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