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2012 Outlook: The end of everything?

By Mark Gibbs
January 9, 2012 12:30 AM ET

Network World - Welcome to 2012, the year the world ends. Yes, in case you haven't been following the eschatologists out there (and most of them are definitely "out there"), 2012 will be "it" for humanity. The "last hurrah". Fini. Au revoir.

For example, if you are an adherent of the theory that the Mayan calendar accurately forecasts the Big One, then you will be waiting for Dec. 21, 2012 the date predicted for humanity's lights to go out.

While I very much doubt that doom and destruction will occur on that day, who knows? Clearly Harold Egbert Camping, the 90-year-old radio evangelist who repeatedly forecast the Rapture over the course of 2011 (with a naught for two score for the year) has shown that he's not really au fait with the predictions biz (he has since retired). Even so, should the rest of the doom predictors be correct, we should probably put off our next round of Christmas shopping until Dec. 22 just in case.

So, end times not withstanding, and before we once again dust off our crystal ball, we must start by checking how right (or wrong) our predictions about 2011 were.

Many of the predictions from last year (some of which I collected from others) concerned large scale economic forecasts which are, it turns out, hard to confirm or deny because how they are measured involves a lot of interpretation.

The first of these predictions from Frank Gens and the IDC Predictions Team. They predicted that worldwide IT spending growth would be "a solid 5.7%" and that "emerging markets, led by China, will continue to drive global IT spending growth, with 2.6 times the growth rate of developed markets, contributing over 50% of all new growth."

Alas, IDC hasn't, at least so far, published a scorecard for their 2011 predictions so I had to check with other sources. Gartner revised its global IT spending growth forecast for 2011 and notes "In U.S. dollar terms, the forecast has been revised up from 7.1% to 7.6% for 2011. However, stripping out the effect of exchange rates, the underlying forecast has been revised down slightly, from 3.6% to 2.9%."

From this and last year's data I conclude that, while interesting, these kinds of predictions are so nuanced and debatable only an economist could love them. I think it's fair to score those predictions as 0's.

Gens et al also predicted that the "mobility explosion will continue" and that's certainly been the case, with the numbers of every type of mobile device skyrocketing over 2011 according to mobiThinking. On the other hand, the next prediction, whether broadband networks would struggle over 2011 to keep up as 4G wireless networks crawled to market, is hard to quantify. I'll give the former a score of +1 and the latter a 0.

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Reprinted with permission from Story copyright 2012 Network World, Inc. All rights reserved.
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