Business Tech: Prediction 2012

Every year brings new challenges. I'm not usually fond of predictions. Disruptive events can and do occur. Still, we have to start from some assumptions if we want to have any chance of being prepared for what is coming. So, with my crystal ball charged and ready, I give you my best guesses. You can feel free to supply your own grain of salt.

Smart Phones

This will be the year of smart fatigue. We've had our expectations revised so many times that we cease to be amazed. We expect smarter, smaller, smarter, faster, and smarter. The companies making these devices will keep delivering that. Other than fanboys, most people aren't going to care about any given new feature. Note: I am something of a fanboy.

My prediction: Phone news will start getting overshadowed by tablet news. Phones will still sell better than tablets. We will see a lot of cool stuff. Flexible screens are looking likely, for example, but none of it will be as game-changing as the breakthroughs we have already seen. We've seen this in the spreadsheet world — new features every year, but each set gets more esoteric and less generally useful. We've had the wow for now. It may heat up again in 2013, hard to say. If you need a smart phone strategy, odds are you really need a tablet strategy that scales back down to smart phones.


Tablets are finally coming of age. This is the year Microsoft will try to regain their mojo in all things beyond the desktop. The year Apple tries to retake market leadership in phones while preserving tablet dominance. The year Google polishes up Android while competing with alternate Android forks from Amazon, Baidu, and others. HTML 5 will be positioned as an alternative to choosing sides.

My predictions: Apple's share will continue to slide, well into 2013. When the slide halts, they will still have more than 50% of the market. People mistake the re-balancing of the playing field as bad news for Apple. They are wrong. The correction was inevitable. Apple, however, got the opportunity to define the field and for many people, anything not Apple has more to prove. If you design for tablet, you have to consider first HTML5, then Apple, then Android, then anything else. Microsoft will not do well because they have had this market for longer than Apple and still haven't figured out how to play in it. They won't get smarter fast enough for 2012.


This is going to mean more to consumers than to business. Apple has assured that by getting the consumer conversation started. We in the business community already know about the cloud. It isn't really new to us, we've seen timeshare. We know what central data repositories and central application services do for us and for business. I believe 2013 will be a better year for the professional cloud. It will take until then for the idea to get properly marketed and packaged with the right offerings.

My prediction: There will be some winners in the corporate space in 2012. They are unlikely to be new; they will be 2011 or earlier players repositioning. Smaller winners in cloud will be the rule. These people will get no headlines, they will however, make money in their various niches.


SQL has become a dartboard for media. The No SQL movement is going to continue to make the news.

My prediction: There is still going to be a lot of SQL. Don't count it out yet. Microsoft, IBM, Oracle, and others will still push a lot of product out the door. It will take time for businesses to understand why they should change. Look at Semantic and other, search-adjacent, databases to make more news and possibly make some actual progress. In the non-SQL world, as in the past, Applications will make the difference. The cloud could be the MultiValue world's best friend, except Cloud is not going to win big in business this year. We will slog through; we will get small-to-medium wins. Unless some application drags us through to a big enough spotlight, we will continue without a spectacular win in 2012. We will continue.

Applications — Other than Phone/Tablet

Custom programming and programming staff will become more important as people continue to try to build software which cuts down the head count while maintaining speed of execution. On the Product side, expect more and more tablet and phone apps. Desktop/laptop apps will still make money, but it will be much harder to get new ones to market in any big way. As we have seen in the past, web delivery to a browser is going to beat out GUI in most cases. I still make money with Delphi. Increasingly, I use it for the backend and present the interface via the web.

My prediction: Usefulness will still trump method of delivery in many applications, but slick interfaces will always sell a lot of crap. We still live in a world where the smart developer builds pretty and functional together. If you know how to make things work, you'd better start learning how to make it look right.

Operating Systems

Mac, Windows, Android, iOS, Linux, Unix… we have an embarrassment of riches. Personally, I like a world with lots of choices. One size has never fit all in my view. Desktops will keep declining but they still represent a huge percent of the landscape. As the year goes on, they will keep losing importance.

My prediction: At the end of the year, despite Cloud data, data in your pocket (phones), and data in your briefcase (tablets, laptops), most business will still involve servers. Those servers will be predominantly running Linux, Unix, and Windows. This will change less slowly than the headlines suggest.

The Economy

2011 was not a banner year for any major economy, anywhere in the world. The challenges have left a lot of talented people without work. The outlook has been bleak for the unemployed and nervous for those with jobs. This isn't an IT thing, it's an everyone thing. People still haven't come to grips with the idea that many of the jobs that disappeared are not overseas or anywhere else where they might "come back" from any time soon. Until we see stronger anti-monopoly laws, jobs made excess through mega-mergers aren't coming back. Other jobs are gone because technology and other efficiencies have permanently eliminated the need.

My prediction: 2012 will be better, but we won't be seeing a second coming of the 1980s or any other boom time. It will be better in part because our definition of better has been beaten into submission. Expect IT jobs to start opening up more, but salaries will be all over the charts. The economy will slow adoption of every new tech because they all require money and time.

Place Your Bets

Whether you think you are betting or not, we all do. Every day we accept or reject seminars, webinars, magazine articles… all sorts of opportunities to expand our domain. A lot of us can get by betting on doing nothing, but that is shrinking job market.


Charles Barouch is the CTO of HDWP, Inc. He is also a regular contributor to International Spectrum Magazine, a former Associate Editor for both Database Trends and for Gateways Magazine, a former distance learning Instructor for CALC. He is presently the Past President of the U2UG. Mr. Barouch has presented technology and business topics in front of hundreds of companies, in a wide range of product and service categories. He is available for on-site speaking and consulting engagements in and out of the United States.

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Jan/Feb 2012