The Roundup: Did Somebody Say IT Predictions?

By David Aponovich

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10 Predictions for Global IT
If it's January, it must be prediction time. IT research firm IDC recently outlined 10 of their own relating to global IT in the coming 12 months. They are:

Conferencing Catching Fire
The conference services sector is expected to grow rapidly in the coming years now that corporations are embracing them as a viable alternative for meetings and collaboration, according to a recent research report.

At a time when companies are cutting back on spending for travel (due to budget and terrorism concerns), Wainhouse Research (Brookline, Mass.) reports that spending on audio, video and Web conferencing services is expected to grow to $9.8 billion by 2006, up from $2.8 billion in 2000.

The overall market is expected to see a gain of 28% in 2001 alone, once all the numbers are tallied, with 9/11 having a major influence on growth. That that growth rate won't last "we do expect a long term positive effect on the usage of conferencing service providers and hence their revenues, despite the continuous downward pressure on prices," says Andrew W. Davis, Wainhouse's managing parter.

A plus for IT managers: All conferencing types (Web, audio, video) are expected to migrate to unattended, on-demand services. This will allow for lower costs for the end users (and higher margins for the service providers.) An example: Average selling prices for Web conferencing services are expected to drop 19% annually while having a compound annual growth rate of more than 42%.

Everybody's Going Wireless
Telecom research group The Strategis Group (Washington, D.C.) is out with predictions about the global wireless markets. The firm reports that next-generation wireless technologies and services are poised to drive growth various markets for enterprise and consumer devices and applications.

A major trend forecast: Continued expansion of wireless local area networks (WLANS) in public hot spots - airports and college campuses- as users come to depend on "everywhere" access to mobile data.

Another trend: The growth of telematics (an common example: connecting cars to the Internet) as reduced costs of implementing systems will drive more widespread consumer demand for services.

Holiday Shoppers Make E-Retailers Smile
It looks like the recent holiday season made 2001 a breakout year for e-retailers. Jupiter Media Metrix reports that online shopping traffic in December 2001 was up 50% compared to the previous Christmas season, with blue-chip retailers seeing traffic gains of 73%.

JMM reports this week that an average of 51.3 million unique visitors went shopping online each week during the 2001 holiday season, up 50% from 2000 and up 99% from 1999. During the recent holiday season, online shopping "started strong and ended stronger," said Charles Buchwalter, vice president, media research, for JMM.

The season was great for pureplay retailers with stores, catalogs and Web sites, JMM reports.

Top three traditional retailers based on daily traffic during the recent holiday season: Columbia House sites with 598,000 average daily visitors, followed by Toys R Us (515,000) and BarnesandNoble.com (447,000).