For more than 30 years, the research firm IDC has been launching its “predictions season” with a broad, overarching document based on input from various IDC analysts – more than 1,000 of them this year. The company then narrows hundreds of predictions to those that meet three criteria: High growth, industry wide impact and “disruption,” which IDC defines as:
They require major structural change within companies and across the industry and therefore present a unique opportunity for competitive advantage for those companies that recognize and navigate through the market’s changes faster and better than others.Dubbed “IDC Predictions 2012: Competing for 2020,” the document lists numerous such disruptive developments. We are in the midst of a “once every 20-25 years” shift to a new computing platform, built on mobile devices and apps, cloud services and mobile broadband networks. IDC calls this the “third platform,” the first two being the mainframe/terminal era, followed by the client/server era, built on PCs, LANs and the Internet. The companies that will be successful in 2020 are those that pay attention to and take advantage of these third platform technologies today, IDC says.

Check out these numbers:

It’s over — Mobile devices will finally exceed PCs in shipments and spending. In 2011, unit shipments of smartphones and media tablets, together, roared past PC shipments. In 2012, that gap will widen dramatically as 895 million of these mobile devices ship compared with less than 400 million PCs. At least as important, 2012 will be the first year in which spending from these devices ($277 billion) exceeds that for PCs ($257 billion), growing at 23% — almost 5 times PC spending growth. The impact of these devices on the industry cannot be overstated: as noted in prediction number 1, in 2012, smartphones and tablets, while only 15% of all IT spending, will drive 43% of the industry’s total growth. The obvious implication is that every IT vendor (and CIO) must have a mobile strategy as a top priority in 2012.

Hard to argue with that last line. Here’s another prediction that I consider to be eye-opening:

The number of Android apps will finally exceed those for Apple’s iOS. This is a key test of the power of “open” versus “closed” environments — still a close call in 2012.

This is an issue because Android apps are more susceptible to malware than are iOS applications, due to the closed nature of the Apple App Store vs. the more open Android marketplace. Buyers beware.

But there’s no escaping mobile devices, according to this prediction:

Within 24 months, the number of “intelligent communicating” devices on the network will outnumber “traditional computing” devices by almost 2 to 1. This will change the way people think about interacting with each other — and with devices — on the network. Within the next 12–24 months, over 100 companies will offer the ability to “follow” the status of products and services.

Given that, this statement bears repeating:
“… every IT vendor (and CIO) must have a mobile strategy as a top priority in 2012.”

Cloud services and enablement spending will hit $60 billion, growing at 26%. This is still less than 10% of IT spending, but with over 50% of customers “on the road” to cloud, the huge strategic impact of cloud competencies is obvious.

What’s more, IDC predicts that more than 80% of new applications will be distributed and/or deployed on clouds. Probably not coincidentally:

Cloud management software spending will grow 62% following blistering growth of 91% in 2011 and 109% in 2010. As we pointed out last year, software to manage private and hybrid clouds is in a power position in the new market.

Check out the full document and you should have a pretty good idea where you’ll want to spend your time in 2012.  Registration is required but the document is free.

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