20 Hot Technologies for 2012: The Indirect Evidence

The F-117 RadarNighthawk stealth strike aircraft was a remarkable achievement: an aircraft so stealthy that its invisibility allowed adversaries to detect it. How? From indirect evidence. The first models of the F-117 absorbed radar but did not retransmit (or “reflect”) a false signal, as did later generations of the aircraft. This created a very small, rapidly moving void on the radar screen which became the F-117’s signature known to everyone watching, from Myrmansk to Kamchatka.

If Indirect Evidence could allow the detection of the early F-117s, can it help us identify the hot technology trends for 2012? When our clients query us about their technology needs, that information goes into a data base. If companies are willing, and in some cases even eager, to invest training or consulting budget in a technology, especially in these lean economic times, then there ought to be a reasonable expectation of a return on that investment. A cluster analysis of this data base, containing thousands of queries from clients in the US and abroad, yields the Indirect Evidence for what might be hot technologies for 2012. We’ll share those results with you shortly. Due to statistical constraints, the technologies are listed alphabetically to avoid implying any order of priority. An asterisk (*) preceding a technology indicates existing Eogogics training/consulting offering on the subject (which will be further enhanced in 2012), whereas twin asterisks (**) mark an area where Eogogics has plans to offer services in the near future. For your convenience, the “single asterisk” technologies names are hyperlinked to the appropriate curriculum pages on our website.

  • *5G Wireless: Though its implementation is nearly a decade away, 5G wireless nevertheless appears to be on the minds of many of our customers. 5G networks will have – among other things — “brains” capable of recognizing, interacting, learning, and adapting. With 5G’s high potential to disrupt ‘business as usual’, it’s not surprising that government policy makers and regulators, national labs, and corporate CTO’s alike are getting interested in understanding how this technology, dubbed the “second wave’ of wireless, is different than everything that has come before it.
  • *Carrier Ethernet: For over a quarter of a century, customers have wanted the same technology that interconnects their desktops to go out the door, down the street and across town, across the country or around the world. That option is now available and, unsurprisingly, they are buying lots of it. We believe that Ethernet, delivered as a service by carriers, will continue to grow in 2012.
  • *Cloud Computing: Whether you call it “outsourcing, the next generation” or “the next big thing”, one thing is for sure: for many organizations Cloud Computing really is the next big thing. But, like the last big thing and the next next big thing, there are a lot of considerations, from implementation models to standards, security, liability and governance. Make the right choices and simplification, lower costs, and great IT value can be yours.
  • *Cyber Security and Warfare: A spate of cyber-attacks – some, quite serious — have recently affected organizations as diverse as the CIA, US Senate, IMF, NATO, Google, Lockheed Martin, Sony, and Citigroup, prompting Leon Panetta, the US Defense Secretary, to warn that “the next Pearl Harbor we confront could very well be a cyber-attack.” Thus while all who queried are interested in “cyber-attack proofing” their organizations, government entities are also interested in the policy, regulatory, and strategy issues posed by the cyber threat.
  • Digital Identities and Privacy: Digital identities are not persons or organizations but, rather, the digitally visible representation of a person or organization that enters into a transaction with another person or organization or their digital identity. Increasingly transactions of all kinds – from financial transactions to those involving real goods and services – are being done with digital identities. The leading edge companies are watching this topic closely.
  • *Home Area Networks (HANs): Crashing prices and gargantuan leaps forward in capacities and capabilities have driven technologies, once only available to the richest corporations and government agencies, into the home market, and not just for the richest homes. The Home Area Network itself has created an important market niche for personal routers and femtocells, but savvy organizations are concentrating their efforts on applications where the HAN meets the WAN, such as SmartGrid and home management services such as fire, security, and chemical monitoring.
  • *Internet Multimedia Subsystem (IMS): IMS is the blueprint for the evolution of wireless and wireline Internet as one big, transparent service offering. IMS is not new, of course. What is new are some of the recent breakthroughs and market activity in IMS. It continues to remain an important technology to watch in 2012.
  • *IPv6 Migration and Implementation: February 2012 marks one year since we exhausted the pool of old IPv4 addresses. It’s not that the IPv4 warehouse is empty (it isn’t), but no more can be manufactured because there are no more raw materials. This situation puts pressure on organizations to do something with IPv6. And, they know, doing the right thing the right way at the right time can be crucial to an organizations’ survival. Think about running out of telephone numbers; this is on the same scale!
  • *LTE (long Term Evolution): The Fourth Generation (4G) of cellular communications based on the LTE standard, one of the two major 4G wireless technologies, edged out WiMAX in 2009 and has since stayed high on the queries list, a standing it is expected to continue to maintain as the LTE deployments continue to unfold and as the technology evolves to LTE Advanced and beyond in the decade ahead.
  • *Mobile Backhaul: Every new YouTube™ posting, every sports team that makes their games available on hand helds, and everyone who plays Angry Birds on a mobile places additional burdens on the already beleaguered wireless infrastructure. But wait, there’s more! What about getting that info from the wireless tower itself to the Internet? That is what mobile backhaul is all about and mobile backhaul represents a multi-billion dollar solution for which there are many terrestrial and wireless options.
  • *Presence, Preference and Geo-Location: Remarkable advances in miniaturization and low power consumption have taken technologies that only yesterday were used for big things like trucks and trains and sent them to the personal and sub-personal realms. Where are you relative to other people, places, and things? What is your desired interaction with those people, places, and things? And what is their desired interaction with you? The answers to these important questions enable a remarkable set of applications from sales and marketing to law enforcement. Combine presence, preference, and geo-location with digital identities and privacy issues for a particularly robust set of technologies poised to really impact the way we live and work.
  • *Radio Frequency Identification (RFID): Initially exploited to track returning Royal Air Force planes in WWII Britain, RFID has gone small as well as gone broad and is now appearing in everything from cereal boxes to tomatoes to light bulbs to passports … airports, drug enforcement agents, race horses, and purebred cats. Coupled with the explosion in wireless backhaul and Home Area Networks, the future for RFID in its many forms is very bright.
  • *Root Cause Failure Analysis (RCFA): Applying techniques such as fault-tree analysis to trouble shoot components/systems is not new, but what’s currently piquing interest in RCFA is that it’s not just a way to get to the bottom of things after a mishap has occurred but also a powerful tool for actually preventing shutdowns and disasters, thus lowering cost, reducing risk/liability, raising quality, and increasing customer satisfaction/loyalty. Over the years, we have seen interest in RCFA widen beyond our traditional Defense/ Nuclear Energy clientele to include oil/gas pipelines, power stations, IT equipment makers, automotive/locomotive, water treatment plants, paper mills, and others.
  • *SIP/SIP-T: Session Initiation Protocol and Session Initiation Protocol Trunking, allied technologies, are so well known that they are simply called by their acronyms: SIP and SIP-T. But familiarity does not tell the entire story. Originally used in Voice over IP for new cheap phone calls to replace expensive old phone calls, SIP continues to flourish for all types of multimedia and rich media communications from voice to video, telematics, command and control, and other session types.
  • **SmartGrid: Only one utility reaches more premises than the telephone: electrical power. Power is critical to the continuation of life as we know it. Some experts say that the SmartGrid initiative is about securing America’s electrical livelihood from terrorists and criminals, Some would say that SmartGrid is about modernizing America’s power infrastructure, an infrastructure old timer who has not had a facelift since the 1950s. Other experts would emphasize that SmartGrid is about power conservation and lower power consumption. As is often the case, they are all right. SmartGrid on a continental, national, local, and household level will continue to build momentum in 2012.
  • **Social Business: There is a reason why Facebook and similar services are being granted Google-like valuations. It’s because it is all about people. Technology is only important – and valuable – when people buy it and, very often, when people actually use it. Social business is the intersection of people and technology with a business nuance. Success will have been achieved when social and business relationships, enabled by technology in ways never before imagined, are finally monetized.
  • **Telematics and GPS: Telematics and GPS are just as important to the military and law enforcement as they are to the Davidson Family out for a Sunday drive in the country and trying to locate the best produce stand. Telematics are integrated into the SmartGrid and into your new car. Together these technologies are geo-enabling drone aircraft and snap-on rear-view mirrors. These and allied technologies are also ones to watch during 2012 and beyond.
  • **TelePresence: Meeting with your life size, hi-def human counterparts – from across the street or across the ocean – in a way that facilitates more realistic interaction, and reaction, is the way of the future … today. Experts thought that “video conferencing” would lessen travel and facilitate work-at-home in a way never before possible. Maybe it did, but no one at the time could have envisioned TelePresence, and now we are seeing TelePresence meet wireless. See also: HAN.
  • *Unified Communications: Just like IMS and Cloud Computing, Unified Communications has not met expectations. Adoption has been slow by any standard but not due to a shortage of need or a clear business case. Global economic priorities of many organizations have caused slow, cautious adoption of UC but adoption will continue to grow throughout 2012. The coming year will also bring some “aha” moments for organizations who have recently adopted UC and have come to realize the positive benefits of what they have done.
  • Voice-Enabled Technologies: Voice-enabled, and voice-enabling, technologies have been around for a very long time but have never been so inexpensive, accurate or easy to integrate into existing products. Voice-enabled applications are virtually endless and, when delivered via one of the Cloud delivery models or as a part of hardware devices, this technology segment will take off. The year 2012 is likely to be a banner one for anything voice enabled, because almost everything can be voice-enabled and most things should be.

While it may be arguable whether this is “the” list or what other technologies should be on the list, these are clearly twenty technologies that are of interest to a wide range of organizations and agencies in the US and globally. It should also be clear that the technologies on this list that are applicable to your area of work should be on your “learn more about” radar and not just voids moving across your screen. We’d like to conclude by asking you what you think: what technologies should be added to or removed from our list and why? Send your feedback to survey@eogogics.com. Happy New Year!

Editor’s Note: KK Arora is the Founder and President of Eogogics Inc. His career spans 35+years in IT, telecom, R&D, consulting, education/training, and human resources. A wireless industry pioneer, he also founded the Wireless Institute of LCC International and headed it for 15 years. He’s the author of several books and articles. (More about KK) Jim Cavanagh, who heads up the Eogogics networking team, has 35+ year experience in IT and telecom that encompasses network strategy, planning, design, implementation, applications, security, trouble-shooting, and marketing. He’s a dynamic presenter and the author of seven books that cover some of the technologies mentioned in this survey. (More about Jim)