Five tech sectors staring into the abyss

The end is nigh for some areas of the tech industry. We look at which ones could be six feet under in the not too distant future.

"Not only are these services now more available, we are also seeing that SMEs are using these services to improve competitiveness."

Looking across the pond, some big names have even indicated the end could be nigh for landlines altogether. Not so long ago, Ivan Seidenberg, chief executive of Verizon Communications, said the company was not all that bothered about wired up phones, according to a New York Times report. Given how long Verizon has been in the landline business, it's clear prognostications surrounding the technology's death are not to be balked at.

If we're being realistic though, landlines themselves are not going to be ripped up or left to rot anytime soon. But with people working longer yet more flexible hours, and with mobile technology moving at the pace it is, there won't be much need for a wired-up phone for every worker in the coming years.

Office desktops

Let's be clear here: we do not believe desktop computers are going to disappear from offices in the next few years. This is more of a long-term prediction.

Also, inside organisations needing lots of computing power, souped-up workstations will still be used. We're talking about typical office desktops here.

Now, there are a number of instructive signifiers in today's world pointing to the end for standard office desktops.

Many heard Apple chief Steve Jobs waxing lyrical about the iPad 2 being the "post-PC" device. Now whilst it's implausible that particular Apple product will replace PCs across the world, Jobs may have been onto something.

Given how rapidly the world is taking to mobile devices like tablets and smartphones, those boxes beneath your desks could be a thing of the past in the not too distant future.

Then there is desktop virtualisation. If you can acccess a desktop OS on a mobile machine (Citrix recently showed us Windows 7 running on an iPad), why do you need to bother with so many desktops? Well, you don't.

According to Lewis Gee, from IT intelligence vendor Centrix Software, shifting business user behaviours coupled with companies' willingness to drive down IT costs could spell the end for desktops.

"There are certainly a number of drivers that are going to change the end user device," Gee told IT PRO. "Part of that is going to be around a very corporate-led cost-cutting exercise where they need to reduce the number of desktops."

With the consumerisation of IT, which finally seems to becoming a reality rather than just a buzz phrase, the desktop will be less frequently used as employees bring in their laptops or tablets to work on.

Of course, the challenge for the IT department will be to offer workers flexibility whilst still being able to deliver critical applications. There are also clearly security issues to deal with indeed, the consumerisation of IT is another danger the firewall doesn't cover. If a worker brings in a virus to the corporate network, there's nothing a firewall can really do to stop it.

Whilst the IT department will have to cope with a range of problems associated with the decline of the desktop, they need to recognise it is happening and be prepared.

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