Three SMB tech predictions for 2011

In 2011, IT World Canada is predicting that Google’s search dominance will take a hit, you’ll finally be able to work from home and myriad startups will help big business navigate social and mobile opportunities.

It’s just a sampling of the prognosticating that came out of our annual roundtable predictions discussion, but the most salient points for small businesses. Do you agree or disagree with our team of crystal ball gazers? Let us know in the comments section.

Search goes social

Brian Jackson: Google will start to lose its dominant hold on search as social searching becomes more popular in 2011. We saw Facebook become the most visited site on the Web ahead of Google in 2010, and now we’ll see social searches eat into Google’s share of the market. Google might be including Twitter in its results, but it hasn’t succeeded at building its own comprehensive and widely adopted social network yet, leaving room for competitors to gain ground. Google will remain the search leader, but not to the dominant extent that it is now.

Rafael Ruffalo: How useful is a search that picks up Facebook stuff? It’s going to be people talking about their friends about this. It’s going to clutter the search. With Google, it allows you to find the information and it’s clean on the page.

Brian Jackson: Information can be relevant to you not just because you’re looking for it, but because people you know are interested in the same information, and that’s the power of social search. We’ll start seeing results based on our social networks placed above the search results that everyone sees.

Dave Webb: The opinion leaders I care about aren’t wasting their time on Facebook. I don’t want to sound like a crank, but I hope that 2011 is the year that people realize that Facebook is entirely irrelevant to their lives.

Jeff Jedras: Brian, I think you’re right from a marketing point of view. But in terms of actually providing good information, Google is king. It’s also likely we’ll see more integration of social media into search aggregators, and who’s in a better position to do that than Google?

The home office becomes a reality

Jeff Jedras: The virtual office independent of endpoint will finally become a reality, thanks to the increasing prevalence of virtualization, cloud computing and tablets. With the increasing presence of the cloud, the end point is becoming largely irrelevant. I might access my virtual environment from work, at home, from my laptop. The IT department will be managing the endpoint, not the software.

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Rafael Ruffalo: Does that mean IT departments will only get smaller from this point?

Jeff Jedras: Yes. There’s a lot of tools out there to help manage hardware. Instead of manually updating each machine, you can push an update out to multiple machines at once.

Dave Webb: IT departments spend a lot of time just to keep the lights on, to keep computers running. There will be less of that as time goes by.

Kathleen Lau: That could be a policy nightmare. If I am bringing in my own laptop to work, I’d probably be more content to use it for personal use as well, because I’d feel entitled to it.

Nestor Arellano: I did a story on a company that let their employees buy their own laptops. They did a partition on the hard drive, where one is their own personal partition and another partition that is more set aside for business.

Startups help big business go social

Nestor Arellano: With the rise of mobile use and social network adoption at the enterprise level and in our private lives, 2011 will be a banner year for Canadian SMBs providing mobile and social connectivity to businesses. That’s a lot of small Canadian companies doing this now; Syncapse, Hootsuite, and I think we’ll see a lot more in 2011.

Dave Webb: ING is into the mobile space in a big way.

Nestor Arellano: Absolutely, I spoke to a lot of their customers. They like that ING allows them to make investments on mobile, and small companies will probably be helping them develop apps for that.

Jeff Jedras: Speaking for myself, I wouldn’t do banking on my mobile smartphone. I just don’t have the confidence in the mobile OS and I wouldn’t trust a Wi-Fi connection either. I’ll do it on a hard wire, and that’s it. I just think there’s a comfort zone that has to be overcome in the wider populace.

Brian Jackson: It was the same thing with Internet banking. Consumers didn’t trust it at first and said they’d never do it, and now we’re hearing the same on mobile phones. But as soon as they do five transactions and see their money isn’t stolen, they’ll trust it. The convenience is too much to resist.

Jeff Jedras: Tell us that when you go bankrupt.

Rafael Ruffalo: Royal Bank recently released their mobile app, and it’s fairly comprehensive. You can do everything on it, and you also get the same guarantee that if you lose money due to fraud, you’ll be reimbursed.

Brian Jackson is a Senior Writer at ITBusiness.ca. Follow him on Twitter, read his blog, and check out the IT Business Facebook Page.

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