By the end of 2005, about 45% of the companies in the US will likely be using
some form of a Web service, according to market research firm Gartner. Web
services use the protocols that power the web to turn raw information into a
kind of utility that can be repurposed in many forms. The promise is the ability
to exchange data in ways that only blue-chip companies like GE or Cisco Systems
have been able to do in the past, but without a bewildering array of heavy-duty
protocols like electronic data interchange (EDI).
The amount of data that we store on our desktop computers is exploding. A
whole new industry has popped up to enable users to search their desktop files
easily, including Google's desktop search tool, and startup Blinkx. Desktop
search isn't just another cool technology. Search engine companies believe
there is a great revenue potential in getting desktop customers to click on
sponsored links, which generates online advertising dollars. The burgeoning
market also has put the spotlight on a group of companies focused solely on
desktop search. Companies like Copernic, ZyLAB, ISYS, dtSearch, X1, and Enfish
hope to out-innovate the larger players in a new area. Some make their money by
selling their software, while others offer free downloads and generate revenue
with ads. Google says that hundreds of thousands of users have downloaded its
desktop search feature. San Francisco-based Blinkx reports 1.5 mn people
downloaded its software since it launched in July last year, exceeding its
Search engine wars
Microsoft and Yahoo will slug it out with Google for search supremacy this
year, while a host of startups will get funding to bring new search technology
to market. By this year-end, expect search engines to do a better job of
interpreting your needs as well as searching images, maps, libraries and who
knows what else. The best part? It's all free to the user.
Blogging for business
Corporations have seen the Web blog light, and blogs will become common for
business use. Unfortunately, far too many of these efforts will just be
marketing fluff disguised as blogs.
WiMAX coming up
In 2005, WiMAX (IEEE 802.16) wireless metropolitan-area networks will be
adopted by service providers for backhaul and wireless broadband delivery,
dramatically increasing local-loop competition and driving down access prices by
10% to 20% per year (starting in 2006), while providing an alternative for
enterprises interconnecting campus buildings.
first glance, WiMAX (Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access) seems like
Wi-Fi on steroids, with a range of up to 31 miles, compared with Wi-Fi's 300
feet or so. But WiMAX isn't so much an alternative to Wi-Fi as an alternative
to cable modems and DSL lines. It's a last-mile technology that brings
wireless broadband to office parks and neighborhoods.
WiMAX has some powerful backers, too, most notably Intel and Nokia. Indeed,
Intel is working on a WiMAX chipset and hopes to put the technology in laptops
within the next couple of years. But that's where things may get a little
tricky. WiMAX was designed for fixed locations, and mobility has been an add-on,
with an enhanced standard (802.16e) expected to be approved later this year. A
rival standard (802.20, or Mobile-Fi) was designed from the ground up for
mobility, so it can handle mobile communications in fast-moving vehicles. But
WiMAX gear is expected to hit the market first. And with Intel pushing the
technology, no one is quite ready to bet against it.
In a broad sense
Employee-driven, diverse models of broadband will proliferate in the
enterprise for remote access and home offices. DSL will become a major factor in
business access (especially for small/midsize offices and in the retail
vertical). Business broadband services will proliferate in Europe, while
broadband will be a lower-cost/lower-reliability alternative in the US. In US,
the carriers will roll out fiber to more residential locations, emphasizing
entertainment and gaming, as well as household wireless. Satellite broadband
services will decline rapidly, while broadband over powerline will fail to take
Video streaming will be slowly adopted, with applications built around
streaming events as well as on-demand services (eg, training). Businesses will
increasingly use external providers to deliver video streaming capabilities.
Videoconferencing will become integrated into traditional conferencing and
collaboration platforms, but desktop-based two-way videoconferencing will not be
broadly adopted before 2009.