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These are our eight predictions for 2012 ...
1. Growth of mobile will facilitate increased telecommuting
The advent of powerful mobile computing devices such as smart phones and tablets has lead to an increasingly mobile workforce. Cloud Computing has become an important technology in support this mobility. Although Cloud Computing is often touted as a way of lowering the cost of IT infrastructure, it's also important in supporting a mobile workforce. As more companies make use of these technologies to enable mobile workers, so too they are enabling their employees to work Out Of Office.
2. More Wi-Fi connectivity out and about
As we become increasingly mobile, there'll be a greater demand for cheap or free wireless Internet access wherever you are - including parks (Brisbane City Council is doing it), city centres (the Perth Lord Mayor promoted it as one of her main election promises) and in the air (Emirates is doing it, Qantas is planning it, many American carriers are doing it).
3. Growth in Mobile Devices
E-book readers will drop below $100 in Australia, high-quality Android tablets will be available for under $300, and smart phones will overtake feature phones.
4. Better support for on-line meetings from tablets and phones
Tablets and smartphones provide many of the features of laptop computers, but there's still some way to go before tablets replace laptops. One of the areas yet to mature is the use of on-line meetings tools, such as GoToMeeting. We predict the vendors of these tools will provide much better support for use on tablets, so Out of Office workers can (realistically and reliably) use a tablet instead of a laptop for on-line meetings.
5. Outsourcing will keep increasing (changing the nature of “jobs”)
It’s the age of the free agent: one in three Americans is a free-lancer, not because they’re finding it difficult to get work but because they want to be. Outsourcing is growing, particularly through the “talent markets” (such as elance.com, guru.com and odesk.com), and this trend will continue in 2012.
6. Google+ will reach 200 million users
Google+, currently at 65 million users, is growing steadily, and we predict it will reach 200 million this year. That number alone doesn't particularly matter for Out of Office work, but it does mean Google has finally created a social network that works, so they are likely to keep investing in it. The Google Hangouts feature in particular could be the video-conferencing solution that we've all been waiting for.
7. A large Cloud-based service will fail (temporarily), causing mass disruption
This is inevitable, not because Cloud Computing is inherently unreliable but rather because it’s becoming more prevalent. More Cloud services are being offered and more people and businesses are using them (as we mentioned earlier, the growth in the number of mobile workers is the main driver behind the adoption of Cloud Computing).
8. E-mail is (still) not dead
Despite various dire predictions to the contrary, e-mail is still going strong, with 3.1 billion users in 2011, and no sign of it slowing down. On the other hand, the volume of spam is decreasing, which means e-mail is becoming even more valuable.