TECHNOLOGY 2010 – Eight Smart Management Tools To Watch For

Technologically speaking, 2010 promises to be watershed year. It is about tablets and mobiles, touch screens, e-readers and being connected. As US technology magazine Wired put it: technology years equate to dog years – in single year we amass at least seven years worth of technological innovation. In just over decade we’ve progressed from paper hungry fax machines to mobile computing, email and video conferencing.
Our forecast for the year ignores the hype of 3D and light emitting diode (LED) television in favour of new product categories and innovation that managers will soon hook into every day.

E-readers

Electronic books (e-readers) look set to make leap in market penetration, capability and accessibility this year. The most commonly known e-readers include the Amazon developed Kindle DX, the Sony Reader and bookshop chain, Barnes & Noble’s Nook. New third-generation readers include the Plastic Logic Que proReader, Skiff Reader, Mirasol display and Alex. Spring Design, the makers of Alex, has recently signed up the other major book retailer, Borders, for its dual display reader.
New generation readers are not restricted to books. They are designed to access all formats and some will take advantage of hybrid LCD technology, switching from standard, full-colour LCD backlit mode to monochromatic, reflective mode viewable in direct sunlight.
These new readers are touted to enhance personal experience. E-reader advocates believe they will cut down on paper and ink thereby saving money and enhancing environmentally-driven recycling programmes. Digital documents are space-savers and, theoretically at least, more secure.
The new touch 8.5 x 11-inch Que, available from April, is the one business professionals should watch because, say its promoters, it will replace all business uses for printed paper, with support for PDF as well as other formats, calendar, and displaying magazines and newspapers in their original print layout. It’s the shatterproof plastic display and wi-fi ability that caught our attention, something that is lacking – so far – in other readers. We didn’t get definitive answer from suppliers, but it should be available later this year.
E-readers:
Kindle DX, the Sony Reader, Nook, Samsung Papyrus, iRex iLiad, Fujitsu Flepia, Hanlin eReader, Foxit eSlick reader, Que, Alex, Mirasol, Skiff, Orizon, iriver Story, Jinke SiPix readers, Hanvon WISEreader, Cool-er readers, Ocean and Tidal series and Samsung E6 and E10.
Pre-purchase checklist:
• Multiple proprietary formats: Not yet standardised. Beware of the potential to lose your library if you change readers.
• Titles available: Currently restricted to Amazon, Barnes & Noble or Google depending on the reader.
• Personal habits: Price, display resolution, size, backlighting, battery life, wi-fi and storage capacity are all considerations. Not every reader automatically ships with these features.
• Business needs: Ask about note taking facilities and news services.

Mobile

Significantly smarter mobiles are emerging. BlackBerry, Apple iPhone and Google Android will lead the charge.
Users will determine dominance. Intuitive devices that help executives to keep on top of their communication and workflow and enhance productivity with clever applications will win market share. And look for IT compatibility.
Google’s Nexus One combines the latest in hardware from HTC Corporation with its new Android software. The company sells the handsets online, bypassing carriers. Analysts think Apple (with rumoured new iPhone) and Google are locked in duel to the death. Dubbed superphone, the Nexus One’s chipset makes it as powerful as four-year-old laptop. Now that PC makers such as Lenovo and Dell have started developing their own phones (LePhone and Dell’s Android) mobiles will be more capable than ever.
Mobile computing will offer more retail options this year, from flight bookings to banking transactions. Nokia realised the value of better business applications and recently invited global developers to create applications and services to enhance the use of mobile devices in real-world scenarios. The competition ends in May.
Carriers now understand the benefits third-party designed applications bring to mobile. And, new web format, HTML5, offers the ability to run applications regardless of the underlying operating system. This could see developers create one site for an application rather than an app for every device.

Smartbooks

Notebooks, while smaller and lighter than PC, are often still too bulky while netbooks can be under-spec’d.
New category notebooks on the horizon are slimmed down to wafer-thin and deliver serious computing power. Such as the smartbook, mini laptop that slots into the gap between smartphones and netbooks, that will keep users connected and performing.
HP has demonstrated tablet smartbook with multi-touch capability using Google’s mobile Android software rather than Linux or Windows as an operating system. Mobile operating systems aren’t as power hungry as the OS used in netbooks.
Other recently launched smartbooks include Lenovo’s Skylight, the Mobinnova Beam and Pegatron Neo – all slim, with screens up to 10-inches. The app-based, internet-ready Skylight offers HD quality screen and 10-hour battery life.
Lenovo’s hybrid touch screen tablet, IdeaPad U1, incorporates both notebook and tablet, with two separate central processing units and different operating systems. The Freescale Smartbook Tablet features dockable keyboard. The long-anticipated Apple tablet, rumoured to be called iSlate, is also on the way.
Mini-tablets that provide internet access and stream multimedia content include Toshiba’s JournE and Sony’s Dash Mobile Internet Device.
The more connected and mobile executives are, and the more information they try to juggle, the more challenges corporate IT departments face.

Virtualisation

Watch “virtualisation” take off in 2010. Last year we said that “a business running without virtualisation may have 100 servers running at just 15 percent capacity. With it they could run 25 servers at 100 percent.”
The recession may have slowed adoption, but the path to virtualised environments which make better use of IT resources continued. Now they are greener, more cost-effective and offer greatly enhanced management capabilities.
David Webster, president of EMC Australia and New Zealand, said recently 2010 would see virtualisation technologies transform information technology into an increasingly “efficient, flexible and cost-effective” way to deliver services to business.
Companies will use virtualisation for security on employee-owned devices and IT. It’s not just senior execs who have their own phones and notebooks for work. Managers will find younger generations entering the workforce with their own personalised computing styles, computers and applications.
Talking about organising information, storage is shifting towards solid state disks, technology that delivers flash memory instead of magnetic spinning disks. It’s said to be smaller, faster, cooler and uses less power.

Cloud computing

Managers will need to get on board cloud technology in 2010. Technology analyst Gartner ranks cloud computing as 2010’s most strategic technology not because it eliminates the costs of IT solutions (it doesn’t), but “because it re-arranges some and reduces others”.
On this point, Webster thinks 2010 will be “recognised as turning point” in the technology industry, where “new models of IT will revolutionise the way we work and live”.
There are at least three forms of cloud computing to consider: on-demand applications (software-as-a-service); clouds as source of computing infrastructure (for example Amazon web services); and, as way to deliver services within an organisation (internal clouds).

Video conferencing

Video conferencing technology will really take off in 2010. The jury, however, is

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