IT managers have about five years to prepare for a shock wave of technology change that will sweep across the global economy, analyst IDC has said.
"I hope you're all really good adrenaline junkies," Gantz told the crowd Thursday during a speech at IDC's IT Forum & Expo, in Boston.
Any analyst could see that change was swiftly coming to technology segments from data centers to software to telecommunications, claimed John Gantz, chief research officer of IDC.
By 2011 or 2012, the trends will become more severe, forcing companies to adapt or disappear.
First, the convergence of the World Wide Web and the telephone network will create a new animal he calls "the great Internetwork" that will extend far beyond desktop PCs and telephones to reach cars and other mobile platforms.
That will change business forever as it multiplies the number of "customer touch points," counted as Internet commerce transactions. In turn, that will challenge CIOs as their enterprise systems reach beyond the company firewall, and real-time business demands constant uptime.
The heart of that 21st century system will be the database, creating turf wars between departments, Gantz predicted.
"Everyone will want to connect to database, like a wildebeest wandering through the Serengeti, where everyone wants to feed on it," he said.
A second area of disruption will be software upheaval, caused by trends like open-source development, SOA (service-oriented architecture), the merger of Web-based and desktop services such as Google Inc.'s Toolbar, and composite applications like IBM Corp.'s WebSphere or software from SAP AG.
The entire sector will change as some companies are forced into acquisitions, and others make mistakes, risking an "end user veto" of unpopular features.
Microsoft has just made such an error by announcing that its pending Vista OS will allow system administrators to block users from copying data onto USB (Universal Serial Bus) memory sticks, Gantz said.
While memory sticks do represent a security threat to networks, they are already an indispensable part of doing business today. Microsoft has reacted too slowly, and could see a backlash from users, he said.
The third major disruption will be pervasive computing, spreading beyond PDAs (personal digital assistants) and music players. Entire buildings will be added to the network, using sensors in garbage cans and parking spaces to automate trash collection and speed traffic flow.
By 2015, PC sales will stop growing, at a sustained level of 1 billion per year, while demand explodes for phones, games, toys, cameras, and handsets enabled with VOIP (voice over Internet Protocol) and GPS (global positioning system), Gantz said.
That change will challenge CIOs to cope with constant bursts in network traffic, managing diverse devices, and a reversal of data flow, as the network's edge will talk to the centre more than vice versa.