TORONTO (04/27/2000) - FORECASTING THE FUTURE A team of scientists and engineers at a Columbus, Ohio, research institute has compiled a list of the most strategic technological trends that will shape business and the world over the next 20 years. While some may want more crystal-ball gazing as much as another Y2K incident, they may want to consider the purpose behind the educated guesses. "It is our responsibility to provide thought leadership which will indicate to the public the most prominent technology of the day," says Stephen Millett, thought leader and manager of the 71-year-old non-profit Battelle Memorial Institute. High-power energy packages: Developments such as highly advanced batteries, inexpensive fuel cells and micro electrical generators will make many products and appliances highly mobile. Decentralized power sources will be extensive, affordable and environmentally clean. These new, high-powered distributed energy systems will provide back-up if not primary energy sources for appliances, homes and vehicles. In the transition to fuel cells, we will see further improvements in batteries and small generators fuelled by natural gas. Intelligent goods and appliances: Advances in quantum computing will lead to smaller, more powerful computers and electronics that will add amazing intelligence to appliances and other products. These products will likely include telephones with extensive phone directories, intelligent food packaging that tells your oven how to cook the food, refrigerators that help make out your shopping list and tell you where to get the best prices, and maybe even a toaster that won't burn your toast. Nanomachines: Microscopic machines, measured in atoms rather than millimetres, will revolutionize several industries and perform a wide range of jobs from heating homes to curing cancer. The medical industry may benefit the most from nanomachines by 2020.
Nanomachines could deliver drugs to highly localized places in the body, clean arteries and repair the heart, brain and other organs without surgery. Super senses: One of the hot technologies today is virtual reality. In 20 years, we will be marvelling over enhanced reality." Using sensors and electronic or genetic technology, we will be able to hear better or see further in the dark.
-- Liam Lahey
INTERNET SPURS GROWTH, DRIVES CHANGE IN SERVICES INDUSTRY As companies scramble to incorporate Internet and e-commerce capabilities into their business strategies, the increased level of complexity they are looking for and the speed at which they need it are fuelling enormous opportunities for Internet service companies, says International Data Corp. "No longer is relatively simple front-end Web development the project du jour. In its place is a more complex project involving creating e-commerce sites that need to be incorporated with back-end systems," says Pooneh Fooladi, an analyst with IDC's Internet Services research program. "The increased requirements of these projects are causing more companies to seek the assistance of outside service providers. This trend is creating huge opportunities for service firms to offer consulting, implementation and operations services in the Internet services market." According to IDC, the large demand is spawning more growth for the Internet service firm: a relatively new type of company with creative, technical, and strategic skills that are specifically targeting this opportunity. "Service firms looking to increase their share in the Internet services market will need to create a business model with flexible service, pricing and delivery models, as well as ramp up their efforts to acquire personnel with a varied skill set so that they will be able to deliver end-to-end Internet services quickly," Fooladi says. In other IDC findings, researchers in IDC's Consulting Services research program say on-line consulting has the potential to disrupt the services industry. According to IDC, on-line services are well suited for the changing market place, which demands agility, timeliness, efficiency and responsiveness. However, few consulting firms have stepped into the arena, leading IDC to warn that many are at risk of coming under a stealth attack. "On-line consulting possesses the same characteristics as a disruptive technology and consequently has the potential of initiating a stealth attack on consulting services firms and their current business models," says Marianne Hedin, manager of IDC's Consulting Services research program. "Consulting firms that have thrived with double-digit revenue growth throughout the 1990s can't afford to be complacent about the Internet's impact on their business. They can't ignore the potential threat of on-line consulting," Hedin warns. "The firms that continue to succeed will reengineer their business models and integrate offline with on-line consulting." Information about IDC research can be found at www.idc.com. -- CIO Canada staff 7 MILLION CANADIANS OWN WIRELESS PHONES Seven million Canadians -- almost one in four -- now own a wireless phone, reports the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association (CWTA). A recent report by the CWTA says the results represent a 30-per-cent subscriber growth rate over last year and forecasts the same growth in 2000. "It took the wireless industry in Canada seven years to accumulate its first one million customers, and now we've added one million customers in just the last seven months," says Peter Barnes, CWTA president and CEO, in a company statement. "This phenomenal growth demonstrates that wireless phones have become an integral part of our daily lives. Canadians have come to count on these tools for convenience and business productivity, as well as safety and security." The wireless industry is a $4 billion industry in Canada. Wireless carriers directly employ more than 13,000 Canadians, and suppliers of products and services to the wireless industry generate another 12,000 jobs in the high-tech sector. Thousands more jobs have been indirectly created as a result of the wireless industry, CWTA reports. The CWTA can be reached on the Web at www.cwta.ca. -- CIO Canada staff