A group of industry pundits offer their boldest predictions for the companies, technologies and trends that will have a prosperous 2009 -- and those that won't. (And take a look back at last year's predictions to see if the experts hit the mark.)
"Dell will make a comeback. Its stock has been overpunished by the stock market downturn. Michael Dell is back on the case, and they are re-engaging with the idea of customers helping to make the product. That should help Dell avoid lower margins and excess inventory." -- Mike Dover, vice president of syndicated research, nGenera Corp. Canada, Toronto
"The biggest technology winners in 2009 will be cloud computing, SaaS and technologies that enable companies to integrate cloud computing and SaaS into their existing in-house IT infrastructures. Businesses will be pushed to find ways to add new applications and functionality to their existing suite of systems, but they will need to do so faster and with less money." -- Michael Hugos, Computerworld columnist, CIO at large and mentor, Center for Systems Innovation, Chicago
"Apple will be a big winner in 2009 with products such as the iPhone and the Mac. With Exchange integration built into the iPhone and promised for the Snow Leopard release of OS X, Apple is poised to make some strong business inroads." -- Michael Gartenberg, Computerworld columnist and vice president of mobile strategy at Jupitermedia Corp.
"SaaS will go from being a niche technology to a preferred way of buying technology. Why? Management has slashed capital budgets, dramatically reducing funds for capital expenditures. As subscription-based services, SaaS platforms generally offer low upfront costs and monthly payment options." -- Judith Hurwitz , industry analyst and co-author of SOA for Dummies
"The big brains coming out of universities will be used once again for good, not evil. By evil, I mean hedge funds. Over the past five years, it hasn't been only the best finance grads going into hedge funds, but some of the best mathematicians, physics and life science grads, all trying to develop killer financial instruments. Society will be the winner here." -- Mike Dover, vice president of syndicated research, nGenera
"Challenging economic times such as today create strong opportunities for innovation . Expect to see significant new disruptive capabilities emerge from technology companies -- both in products and services -- and interesting new ways of doing business resulting from this economic crisis. Organizations that focus on being well-run companies and maximizing enterprise efficiencies may well discover that they can deliver more value with fewer resources and thrive in the global economy." -- Eric Openshaw, vice chairman and U.S. technology leader, Deloitte LLP
"Winners: Companies that have an agile-fixed vs. variable-cost IT financial model . Typical companies have only 36% variable IT expense, and that is usually their people. They might take out half of that, but for many companies, that simply won't be enough and is the wrong place to cut. Sell-side winners are those that supply flexible services on a variable-cost basis." -- Howard Rubin, Rubin Systems Inc., Gartner senior adviser, MIT CISR associate
"One company that will fail in 2009 is Sun Microsystems . The company has lost its identity and hence its way in the marketplace. I also predict that Sun will sell off pieces of the business." -- Judith Hurwitz, industry analyst and co-author of SOA for Dummies
"Vista will be a big loser. Despite being a solid tech product, it has been perceived as a failure, with barely 10% of enterprises deploying. Microsoft has already started downplaying Vista and talking up the next release, known as Windows 7. Microsoft has been touting Windows 7 as more reliable, with a smaller footprint -- sure signs that Vistas days are numbered. Vista was the OS that just couldn't for Microsoft, and it will likely be replaced in '09" -- Michael Gartenberg, Computerworld columnist and vice president of mobile strategy at Jupitermedia Corp.
"Losers: Client/server applications . The cost of deploying, supporting and maintaining client/server applications is no longer affordable. Also, proprietary operating systems : I'm eliminating Solaris, AIX and HP-UX from my data centers' high-end SAN storage. I find that 90% of my storage needs are met with lower-end SAN, NAS and appliances that use low-cost arrays of SATA drives." -- John D. Halamka, Computerworld columnist and CIO, CareGroup Healthcare System
"2009 will be the year that finally exposes the lack of depth in IT leadership skills . Strong execs will convince senior management of the future value of projects that are not showing immediate or near-term value. The rest -- a vastly larger group -- will resign themselves to forced across-the-board cuts and project cancellations that companies will later regret." -- David Foote, CEO and chief research officer, Foote Partners
" The tech industry will be atomic-bombed. By this I do not mean obliterated or reduced to ash. One of the first baby steps mankind took on the path to nuclear power was recognizing that the atom was not the smallest or most important unit of analysis. Similarly, the technology company is not the smallest unit -- or the unit that should be receiving the lion's share of our attention. Just as splitting atomic nuclei could lead to massive releases of energy, splitting the vendor can do the same." -- Thornton A. May, longtime industry observer, management consultant, commentator and Computerworld columnist
This story, "Juicy Predictions for '09" was originally published by Computerworld.