When emerging becomes mainstream.

If everything old is new again, then when does stuff new become old?  I was looking at global growth rates for emerging technologies, but some of the elements included in the calculations didn’t seem (to me) to be emerging anymore.

According to International Data Corporation, worldwide IT spending will increase 6% to $1.6 trillion in 2011.  This increase will likely be in relation to mobile computing, cloud services and social networking.  Spending surges in these areas should frame a new market and open up a plethora of industry-specific solutions.  “In 2011, we expect to see these transformative technologies make the critical transition from early adopter status to early mainstream adoption,” said Frank Gens, IDC senior vice president and chief analyst.

“As a result, we’ll see the IT industry revolving more and more around the build-out and adoption of this next dominant platform, characterized by mobility, cloud-based application and service delivery, and value-generating overlays of social business and pervasive analytics,” Gens said.

Part of the problem is that I am an industry insider – so these things aren’t really new to me, but it does make me think that no matter what the industry, the world is still driven by consumer awareness (saturation).  Something may have 85% adoption among a certain group, but if the population size of that group is small – it’s still small overall.  In technology, however, it can’t just be about adoption – it has to be about awareness as well.

It seems to break down into this – is emerging technology about awareness or adoption?  Then, what % of what defined population has to (be aware or adopt) before the emerging technology is mainstream?

IDC outlined additional details about IT spending, noting that while hardware spending will remain strong at nearly 8 percent growth year-over-year, the industry will be sparked more by spending gains in software, project-based services and outsourcing.  By mid 2012, unit shipments of smartphones, media tablets and other non-PC mobile devices capable of supporting applications will outstrip the number of PCs shipped by manufacturers, a trend that not only will set the future pace but also will pressure PC vendors to position themselves in the redefined marketplace, according to IDC.

Anticipated growth figures associated with mobile applications are eye-popping, as IDC predicts some 25 billion mobile applications will be downloaded in 2011, a 150 percent jump from 2010.  In addition, social business software in business settings is expected to move forward at a 38 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR), the researcher said. By the end of next year, more than 40 percent of SMBs will use social networks for promotional purposes, IDC said.

“What really distinguishes the year ahead is that these disruptive technologies are finally being integrated with each other, cloud with mobile, mobile with social networking, social networking with ‘big data’ and real-time analytics,” said Gens.  “As a result, these once-emerging technologies can no longer be invested in, or managed, as sandbox efforts around the edges of the market,” he said. “Instead, they are rapidly becoming the market itself and must be addressed accordingly.”

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