The Internet has already proved a revolutionary tool that has completely changed the way in which nearly every aspect of the world operates. Although this remarkable invention has done its fair share of overhauling, information technology professionals are likely aware that this innovation is far from done in terms of working its magic. In light of the progress that the Web has made and the potential that it offers, experts are anticipating that the Internet will spur on a wide array of developments that will once again prompt the evolution of both realms where consumers operate – virtual and tangible.
Celebrating a milestone birthday, the Internet marks this year as its 25th year of existence. In honor of this occasion, Pew Research Center decided to survey IT professionals, gauging their expert opinions to pinpoint expected Web trends that may still be in store.
Web to spotlight more international situations
While a number of tech employees may be inclined to consider the potential effects of the Internet from a purely professional standpoint, they should also think about their – along with billions of other individuals’ – personal use of this tool. Though there is no doubt that this innovation has forever changed the ways in which companies do business in every department of the organizations, consumers have also taken to the Web and have even grown dependent on it. With more and more people tapping into their smartphones, work computers or home laptops to access the Internet on a daily basis, they have a steady stream of information from around the globe coming at them. As was the case with game-changing inventions that transformed the world of mass communications – such as the earliest contributor, the printing press – a wealth of information and real-time news about international occurrences could present a slew of benefits.
“With mobile technologies and information-sharing apps becoming ubiquitous, we can expect some significant improvement in the awareness of otherwise illiterate and ill-informed rural populations to opportunities missed out by manipulative and corrupt governments,” stated Rui Correia, director of Netday Namibia, a nonprofit that encourages IT development and education. “Like the Arab Spring, we can expect more and more uprisings to take place as people become more informed and able to communicate their concerns,” he explained.
In addition, more light will be shed on situations happening on the global level, which could help issues of international concern to be addressed in an effective manner. Nicole Ellison, associate professor at the University of Michigan’s School of Information believes, “as more of the global population comes online, there will be increased awareness of the massive disparities in access to health care, clear water, education, food and human rights.”
This trend has and will continue to grow as participating in social media quickly becomes a mainstream practice among consumers. “We have to think seriously about the kinds of conflicts that will arise in response to the growing inequality enabled and amplified by means of networked transactions that benefit smaller and smaller segments of the global population,” predicted Oscar Gandy, emeritus professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School. “Social media will facilitate and amplify the feelings of loss and abuse. They will also facilitate the sharing of examples and instructions about how to challenge, resist, and/or punish what will increasingly come to be seen as unjust.”
Businesses increase Internet dependence
Keeping up with that push toward globalization, the Internet will help IT professionals extend their reach to consumers around the globe. Tech departments will begin to leverage the Web so they can cultivate data on their target demographics habits and preferences, in addition to engaging consumers and converting them into paying customers – no matter where in the world they may be.
“There will be increased franchise and information sharing,” proposed Google VP Vint Cerf. “There will be changes to business models to adapt to the economics of digital communication and storage. We may finally get to Internet voting, but only if we have really strong authentication methods available. Privacy must be improved but transparency about what information is retained about users also has to increase. More business will be born online with a global market from the beginning. Massive open online courses will become important revenue streams.”
With a growing reliance on the Web and all the technologies stemming from this ultimate innovation, IT executives could expect to integrate more Internet-centered solutions into their functions, employing them so their companies to cater to an ever-expanding global audience.