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2020 Predictions. 20/20 Hindsight.: Page 3 of 3

Our preview of the year ahead in IT explores what experts predict for 2020, and what they would have predicted for 2019 if they could see the future as clearly as the past. By Rich Freeman

Internet of Things

What intrigues IoT expert Bryn Nettesheim most about 2020 is what surprises her most in hindsight about last year: the emergence of startups bringing new and often custom-manufactured IoT hardware to market faster and more effectively than much bigger, more established competitors.

“Who else is out there that is going to come in and make some kind of significant disruption?” asks Nettesheim, vice president of route to market operations at analyst firm and consultancy 2112 Group. She has a related question about those better-known incumbents too: Will this be the year they finally start crystallizing IoT strategies and sharing those with partners?

“They still don’t quite get it,” she says. “If no one’s telling partners what to sell and helping them get it to market, we’ve got a problem.”

Not that the IoT market’s continued growth is in jeopardy. Sales of IoT hardware, software, and services will continue to grow “fast, fast, fast” this year, Nettesheim predicts, especially in the industrial IoT, smart cities, and healthcare markets. Channel pros impatient to start pocketing some of that spending, she advises, would be wise to stop waiting for guidance from vendors and begin taking some chances themselves.

“Sometimes the easiest place to start is just simply to start,” Nettesheim says.

Digital Signage

The big trend for digital signage this year is no mystery, according to Alan Brawn, principal of advisory firm Brawn Consulting. Retailers and other organizations will continue accumulating increasingly vast quantities of data about viewing patterns and interaction with digital displays.

“The wild card will be how various companies analyze all of this and decide what to do with it all,” he says.

Theoretically, Brawn notes, information collected by the latest signage solutions contains valuable insights that can inspire new consumer experiences and influence buying decisions. Whether 2020 is the year businesses start investing in the video analytics and other big data solutions needed to uncover and exploit those insights, though, is an open question.

“In other words, we will get the raw material and the task will be to figure out how to use it, and finally what effect that will have,” Brawn says.


Predictions about the global economy in 2020 vary widely. No matter, says Greg Schulz, founder and senior adviser at analyst firm and consultancy StorageIO. Regardless of what happens to GDP rates this year, storage capacity requirements will increase.

Greg Schulz

“There’s no such thing as a data recession,” Schulz says. “There’s still going to be data growth.”

Budgets are sure to remain tight as well, which means businesses will be looking for ways to stretch capacity further. That will lead to continued interest in compression and deduplication, Schulz says, but also increased demand for an underappreciated complement to those technologies: archiving. Migrating older data onto low-cost local and off-site archiving solutions saves companies money by extending the life of expensive front-line storage systems.

“If there’s an aspirin to data storage management woes, it’s archiving,” Schulz says.

As for bungled predictions from the past, Schulz prefers to look back over the decade now wrapping up rather than just last year. The biggest surprise, to many others, though not Schulz himself? All those people predicting the imminent demise of the hard disk drive were wrong in 2010 and remain wrong now. “The disk drive is not dead,” Schulz says. “The hard disk drive continues to do a lot of work.”

If only it didn’t take 20/20 hindsight to see that coming.

Image: iStock

About the Author

Rich Freeman's picture

Rich Freeman is ChannelPro's Executive Editor

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