The CSIRO has included the convergence of the digital and natural worlds driven by the rapid growth in Internet usage and skyrocketing number of connected devices as one of five "megatrends" changing the world.
The trend recognises a point of convergence between the natural and its digital counterpart as social interactions, information systems, transactions and sensory systems are replicated on the Internet.
Supporting its claim, the CSIRO pointed to the exhaustion of IPv4 Internet addresses, which has quickened in recent months to now be down to 7.8 per cent, and cited the explosive growth in social networking on sites such as Twitter and Facebook and the growth in the online retail marketplace – estimated by Forrester to reach $US335 billion in the US by 2012.
Cloud computing, the rise of remotely sensed data in services such as Google Earth, and digital hardware’s keeping pace with Moore's law were also cited as supporting evidence of the trend.
According to the CSIRO, another megatrend - the personalisation of services – was also being heavily driven by information technology.
Citing the Journal of Services Marketing, the CSIRO said the vast increases in computing power, manufacturing robotics, and the rise of the Internet over recent decades had dramatically increased the ability of companies to customise products and services.
Privacy and confidentiality were also a rising concern with IT’s ability to allow governments and companies to capture and store vast amounts of information on people, creating a strong demand for systems to protect information from improper use.
Personalised health products driven by technology, and demand for information management would also be growing trends, the CSIRO said.
“There will be a strong demand for technologies that help people deal with information overload,” the report reads. “For example, memory tools are on IBM’s list of the top five technology trends over the next five years.”
The remaining megatrends are: Increasing urbanisation and increased mobility; divergent demographics toward older, hungrier and more demanding populations; and the demand for, and depletion of, natural resources.
The full report, Our Future World, An analysis of global trends, shocks and scenarios, is available on the CSIRO website.