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Form Guide for the Runners and Riders in the Technology Race 2013

Two very unrelated but interesting news stories caught my attention last week. One was the revelation that some leading brand’s beef burgers contained meat from four legged beasts more used to jumping Beecher’s Brook than grazing blissfully in a lush meadow. The other item was the release by Deloitte’s of its annual Technology, Media and Telecommunications predictions with the intention of stoking debate about what’s going to be hot in the TMT sector in 2013.

Whilst much merriment was to be had with the unfortunate incident identified in the first story – “Q. What do you want on your burger? A. A fiver each way” – it did lead to the thought that perhaps there was some fun mileage in combining the two news pieces. So for one day only, here is a form guide to the runners and riders in the Deloitte TMT prediction hurdle.

Smartphones ship 1 Billion (nearly 2 billion devices in use globally by year end)

That’s one smartphone for every 6 people on the planet and might even be an underestimate considering how many of us now have a smartphone for work and a separate one for personal use. Katy Melua will soon be singing…“There are 9 million smartphones in Beijing.” Verdict: Smart phone adoption will continue its stellar rise, fuelled in the main by businesses playing catch up with consumers in finally recognizing the benefits of convergence. Evens.

4K kicks off with the rollout of at least 20 next generation HD sets.

HD has made a big difference to the sharpness and quality of picture we get (as well as the amount of make-up the TV presenters have to shovel on!) but the fact that only 41% of UK homes have a HDTV as of 2012 suggests that Ultra High Quality 4K might not take off that quickly. And of course the one thing that a high definition set can’t improve is the quality of the programming. I can see movies being an attractive option in 4K but how long will we have to wait for them to be mastered for this format? Verdict: Given the pricing, and the average 7 year cycle to change a TV set, can’t see a mass market rush for this particular technology just yet. 25/1

Crowdfunding portals will bring in £1.9bn more than double 2011’s £0.9bn

Crowdfunding is now accepted as a legitimate source of finance, especially for creative projects like films, music and computer games. The portals themselves have become tech start-ups. Last year Kickstarter, the world’s largest funding platform for creative projects, helped fund more than 18,000 projects with a total of $320m given by over 2 million people. From a personal point of view I used Bloom VC to successfully raise money for a charity project I’m involved with.  Why do people give their money in this way? Because it’s personal, passionate, provides proof of concept, engenders loyalty, minimises exposure and you only have to give something small to make big things happen.  Verdict: Given the current economic difficulties in raising funds/capital using traditional methods, crowdfunding is set to explode as a legitimate source of business and third sector financing. 7/2

50% of Fortune 500 companies will allow employees to bring in their own computing devices.

Look at the PC on your desk. Legacy equipment? Our smartphones and tablets have more usability and connectivity in them than most of our office PCs do, so why not use them at work too? As we work smarter and more mobile BYOC will gain ground, at the moment PCs are still predominant. The main barrier to BYOC adoption will be security and compliance across an organisation. Verdict: If the issues surrounding network integrity can be addressed then BYOC makes sense on so many levels. 12/1

TV on demand and film sub services will be provided by existing broadcasters rather than new market entrants.

‘Content is King’ has been the mantra ever since the dawn of the internet but in 2013 it will not only be king but queen and prime minister as well. We have a number of live streaming clients who have seen huge increases in demand for their services and have linked up with major broadcasters to share their content across multiple platforms. Verdict: It appears pretty logical that existing broadcasters rather than new channels are likely to be the ones in command of On Demand, given cost of entry and production costs, but the embryonic rise of local and specialist TV may provide some localised competition –  provided content is compelling. 12/1

10% of households will dual screen

Sport very much lends itself to dual screening with its passion, fan interaction and no shortage of ‘controversial events’ and is leading the charge in this area. Other TV formats offer different challenges such as a complex drama offering a demanding plot which requires full audience engagement. Verdict: An obvious choice and growth area for participative programming such as Reality shows and Question Time. 14/1 reducing to 7/2 if the X Factor runs with it.

Feature rich TVs will include gesture and voice based controls but 99% of us will revert to the remote due to technology issues.

This reminds me of the comedian Kevin Bridges’ automated telephone booking routine about his failure to buy tickets to The Taking of Pelham 123 (a movie), because the automated system cannae unnerstaun whit he sez.  Verdict: If the voice sez nah on your tv, it’ll be back to the remote. Evens.

Mobile advertising will be split into Smartphone and Tablet

Advertisers definitely need to get smarter as more of us shop smarter both in the types of advertising they create but also in the way ROI is calculated. The types of ads that work on a 7 inch screen won’t work on a smaller phone screen and tracking purchases via mobiles is not as easy as on a device that’s got a stable connection.  Verdict: Huge potential but real effort needed in areas of lack of standardisation, anti competitiveness and interoperability across OS platforms. 12/1

4G will see strong growth – Revenues projected to reach £60bn across 200 operators in 75 countries

With all major operators due to launch 4G services by the end of this year, the thing standing in the way of better adoption will be the ability to persuade us what the benefits really are. For instance, business customers understand that they get faster connectivity and bigger packets of data via fibre networks over traditional DSL circuits and can measure the benefits in terms of latency, data transfer size, disaster recovery, replication etc. Would the price increase justify opening Facebook a few miliseconds quicker on a smartphone for an average consumer?  Verdict: Once the message around benefit is stronger from mobile phone operators, take-up should increase. 33/1 dropping to 25/1 if operators introduce compelling price reductions and plans.

 The end of password only security

Security has to be a key issue not just for 2013 but beyond. Deloitte predicts that in 2013 more than 90 percent of user-generated passwords, even those considered strong by IT departments, will be vulnerable to hacking. The use of visual prompts and memorable words by banks and credit card companies has already supplemented the simple username and password login and companies are waking up to  sophisticated encryption to protect databases. No doubt biometric identification will come into play further down the road. But and it’s the big but, security is only as effective as the humans operating and applying it. Verdict: Whatever we do, hackers, phishers and criminals will always be one step ahead and it’s a constant battle. Retina scans might just be a concept too far for those people who have only just realised that using the word ‘password’ as a password is not the best defence. 150/1

So let’s agree to meet up again in 2014 to see just how we fared. Until then the predictions, just like the burgers in my fridge, are offfffffffffff.

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More Stories By Phil Worms

Phil is the Chief Marketing Officer of one of the UK's largest managed hosting and cloud computing services companies - iomart Group plc. He is a 30 year IT industry veteran, having started his career with BT plc, joining the company as it emerged into a brave new commercial world following privatisation.

A full and varied career has seen Phil move through various senior product/project and marketing positions with companies as diverse as Centrica plc, One.Tel and VarTec Telecom, Phil has been described as “an old head who has been around the block more than once” who “continues to be a powerhouse of ideas in all areas in which he provides his considerable experience to” - which probably means he should have been pensioned long ago.

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