Web based change has accelerated its impact on business as this decade draws to a close and we can expect to see an even bigger impact on the web as a productivity tool in the 2010.
1. Cloud computing will continue to grow. For a long time organizations have been locked into expensive operations software and costly updates. More and more companies are abandoning this in favour of tools like Google Apps to take care of email, file storage and document processing (replacing much of Microsoft Office's market share). Smaller entrepreneurial companies accomplish as much and more through these web-based applications and storage as larger organizations who are using expensive servers, load software on each work station and depend on network support. These practices are fast becoming antiquated and cumbersome and we can expect to see more cloud-based services such as Google Apps.
2. Managing social media overload. Social media has been widely adopted as a low-cost business communications and relationship-building tool. The pace at which new services become available is becoming challenging - keeping up with content generation as well as finding good sources of information. Just keeping up with Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin has become challenging. While businesses are scrambling to figure this out, users are drawn to the best, most reliable sources - especially those that can be filtered fast and effectively.
3. Web development on the fly. During this past decade we have seen a move away from hard coded websites that were under control of web masters and programmers, to sites with content management systems. Blog services such as Wordpress are blurring the lines between websites and blogs, allowing businesses to develop a custom design, hosted site at the push of a few buttons. Wildapricot.com is only one example of a low cost solution for developing a robust website for member-based organizations - at the push of a few buttons and a low monthly fee an organization will be communicating, doing event registration and have members blog on forums.
4. App marketing. Most proactive businesses have already grabbed the opportunity to develop an app for mobile phones to hook customers into its business through use of a mobile phone. Amazon.com has its app for Amazon Kindle, for example. Download the app to an iPhone for free and purchase and download a book from Amazon's store onto the iPhone all in a matter of seconds. And reading a book on an iPhone screen is not all that hard to do! This is only one example - the world opens up when you browse the Blackberry and Apple iPhone App Stores. Users will continue to use these mobile apps to increase productivity and marketers will use this for product distribution.
5. Green momentum. Environmental consciousness is gaining global momentum and legislation will undoubtedly require smaller carbon footprints - working remotely to cut down on travel, communicating digitally to save in paper and inks, distributing electronically to minimize transport and using alternative sources of electricity - perhaps solar panels on every electronic device and increased use of wireless electricity?
6. Crowdsourcing. An aging population, a new generation that works remotely and the changing work places all lead to a very different way of sourcing talent and labour. Crowdsourcing sites such as elance.com and crowdspring.com have become market places for finding low cost suppliers for knowledge-based work - writing, design, programming. This trend will continue to grow.
7. Project management as opposed to People management. With the decentralization of the workplace and supply chains, effective project management will be key to getting things done on time, within budget and according to specification. Project managers will have to be more resourceful in contracting the best solutions and project management skills will be in increasing demand.
I have no crystal ball and this is subjective trend spotting. History has shown us though, that the 2001 burst of the dot-com bubble delivered unsurpassed innovation this past decade with Web 2.0 and social media. It takes no crystal ball to predict that the current economic recession will be fertile ground for another round of profound innovation.