2011 Trends in Review

Trend 1: Smartphones and tablets will oust PCs

Admittedly, this first prediction is like forecasting snow in Siberia. The question isn’t if smartphones and tablets will take over the conventional PC market, but rather, when. Back in January, we referred to a study by Goldman Sachs which stated that a third of all new PCs purchased in 2011 would be tablets. As the year draws to a close, it looks like the original prediction was a bit on the high side, but the general trend is definitely growing.

According to IDC, in 2011 the tablet market grew between Q1 and Q2 from 7.2 million units to 13.6 million. In response to these figures and also the worse-than-expected PC sales in Q2, IDC updated its forecasts for tablet and PC sales in September. Now, the research firm predicts 62.5 million tablets to sell in 2011, which is 17 percent of the estimated 357 million PCs to be sold this year. This is a huge increase over 2010 when tablet shipments made up only five percent of PC shipments.

Next page: 3D images and 3D videos

Trend 2: 3D images and 3D videos

In January, we stated that the market for 3D images has yet to be decided. Twelve months later, it seems that little has changed. The 3D trend started in the film industry with early blockbusters like Avatar and Alice in Wonderland, and from there, the technology quickly infiltrated the markets for smartphones and home televisions.

2011 saw the release of several new 3D smartphones including the LG Optimus 3D, the HTC Evo 3D, the Samsung W960, and the Motorola MT810. With these smartphones, users can consume 3D content without the need for special glasses, and they still are able to view conventional content in 2D. On the LG and HTC devices, users can even record videos and take pictures in 3D. There have not yet been many thorough examinations of the 3D smartphone market, so it’s hard to say exactly how widespread the adoption has been. It is certainly telling, though, that HTC dropped the price of its 3D smartphone twice within the first two weeks of its release. From a subjective standpoint, it seems that most participants in online forums regard the 3D smartphone trend as a passing fad rather than a permanent shift.

The home television market, on the other hand, has surpassed estimated sales for the year. Research firm DisplaySearch reports that 6.6 million 3D LCD televisions shipped in Q3, a 27 percent increase over Q2. The firm expects a total of 21.5 million 3D televisions to sell in 2011. While 3D technology has been moving into these new markets with varying success, profits from 3D films have dropped considerably in the past year. Is this perhaps a portent for what will eventually happen to the market for 3D smartphones and televisions? In any case, at the end of 2011, we must say that the future for 3D images remains ambivalent.

Next page: Social media goes mobile & Apps replace software

Trend 3: Social media goes mobile

This forecast was spot-on for 2011. Facebook reports that more than 350 million active users now access the social network on a mobile device, and Twitter achieved a 182 percent increase in the number of mobile users over the past year. In addition, when Google introduced its social network (Google+) in June, it made sure that all functions, from posting messages to carrying out video chats, are supported on mobile devices.

A 2011 study by comScore MobiLens measured the mobile social media activities in France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom. The results show a 101 percent increase in social media activity via a mobile app and a 31 percent increase in social media activity via a mobile browser since 2010. According to Juniper Research, the total number of mobile social media users in 2011 will reach 650 million, and by 2016, the firm predicts that 1.3 billion users will access social media networks from a mobile device. Fueled by the increasing adoption of smartphones, the trend to integrate local, social, and mobile experiences, also called geosocial networking, will only continue to grow in the future.

Trend 4: Apps replace software

For at least the last two years, SAP has placed mobility at the heart of its strategy for innovation. Since the 2010 acquisition of Sybase, SAP has made tangible progress along its enterprise mobility roadmap. This year, for example, the SAP Store officially opened with over 50 mobile apps available for download.

These apps support a range of mobile functions, from complete mobile software solutions like SAP Business One and SAP Business ByDesign, to specific business tasks like the SAP HR Approvals app and the SAP Timesheet app, to partner developed add-ons for industries and lines-of-business like the SIGGA SM2 app for mobile enterprise asset management.

Next page: Cloud computing and virtualization & Augmented reality

Trend 5: Cloud computing and virtualization

The adoption of cloud computing and virtualization technology increased significantly in 2011. In July, Gartner reported that revenues from software as a service (SaaS) will likely reach $12.1 billion by the end of the year, representing a 20.7 percent increase over revenues achieved in 2010. Back in January, Gartner stated that 90% of SaaS deployments could be regarded as cloud services by 2014. Now, however, that deadline has been pushed back to 2015.

Despite increased adoption of cloud computing and virtualization technology this year, Gartner still feels that cloud computing is one of the most hyped topics in IT. In particular, the report finds that platform as a service (PaaS) is an oft misunderstood term in this market. As opposed to Saas, in which applications are hosted by vendors and delivered to customers over the internet, PaaS refers to a set of services hosted by a vendor on which customers are able to develop and host applications. This capability won’t likely see mainstream adoption until 2015.

Furthermore, we should remember that cloud computing is just a small part of the complete IT market. According to Gartner, total IT spending in 2011 will be $3.6 trillion, which means cloud computing will make up just 2.3 percent of the global market. Although this year did see more widespread adoption of the technology, there is still much room for growth.

Trend 6: Augmented reality

Augmented reality applications have continued to multiply since 2010, albeit mostly for the consumer market. Today, there are over 1,000 augmented reality apps in the iTunes App Store, and according to Hidden, a digital marketing agency, 35 new augmented reality applications are launched every month. Most augmented reality apps are in the areas of lifestyle, entertainment, and games, with fewer apps suited for business.

The one area of the business world where augmented reality is really gaining traction is the marketing sector, with Toyota, Starbucks, Adidas, Volkswagen, and many other global brands conducting augmented reality marketing campaigns in 2011. SAP, however, has integrated augmented reality in a different business area, namely analytics. This year, a new release of the SAP BusinessObjects Explorer mobile app has made augmented reality a standard feature of the BI application.

Next page: Real-time analysis of data & Smart grids for e-mobility

Augmented reality is now supported in SAP BusinessObjects Explorer (screenshot: SAP)


Trend 7: Real-time analysis of data

In the past year, the trend towards real-time analysis has grown even more quickly than we imagined. In the world of SAP, 2011 was defined by SAP HANA, the in-memory technology that enables real-time analytics.

The software became generally available in June, and SAP immediately focused on developing new applications to run on SAP HANA and integrating real-time capabilities into many of its existing applications. SAP Smart Meter Analytics, powered by SAP HANA; SAP BusinessObjects BI OnDemand, powered by SAP HANA; and SAP CO-PA Accelerator are new solutions designed especially to take advantage of SAP HANA capabilities. Furthermore, SAP BusinessObjects BI Suite 4.0 and SAP Business Warehouse 7.3 are two existing solutions that now run on SAP HANA.

Trend 8: Smart grids for e-mobility

In our previous article, we stated that the adoption of electric mobility depends to a great extent on the results of research conducted in rechargeable batteries and storage capacity. As predicted, 2011 saw significant advancement in this kind of research. According to a report from the US Department of Energy (DOE) in September of this year, the organization has allocated more of its $3 billion research budget to enhance electric vehicle adoption and lithium battery technology. In the past, the DOE underinvested in this kind of research, focusing instead on alternative fuels. Furthermore, in Central and Eastern Europe, the number of pilot projects centered on electric mobility in 2011 was more than double the number conducted in 2010.

Next page: Servers and energy efficiency

The Fujitsu PRIMERGY RX300 S6 server (photo: Fujitsu)

Trend 9: Servers and energy efficiency 

The past year has shown a growing awareness of the need for energy efficiency in the hardware sector. According to research by the Alliance to Save Energy, one in six servers is not performing any useful work, resulting not only in unnecessary carbon dioxide emissions but also millions of dollars in wasted maintenance costs. The potential for cost savings was certainly a factor in the decision of the US government to shut down 40 percent of its data centers over the next four years.

Key in improving server efficiency, however, are the benchmarks that identify server performance. This year, SPEC, the standards body for performance benchmarks, introduced a new tool-kit to more accurately measure the energy efficiency of servers. Server vendors can use the Server Efficiency Rating Tool to measure the efficiency of their servers and then submit the results to the Environmental Protection Agency for certification. This will help businesses better identify the most efficient servers when making a purchasing decision.

This year, SAP also developed a new benchmark that compares a server’s performance to its energy consumption. The SAP Server Power Standard Application Benchmark, which was tested on a Fujitsu PRIMERGY RX300 S6 server, evaluates performance and energy consumption at nine different load levels. For this server, for example, the optimal load level was found to be 65 percent.