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Editor’s letter: What’s next?

Throughout the technology slump of the past few years, high-technology gurus have been debating whether or not the industry can expect another “next big thing” to approach past breakthroughs like the PC and the Internet. In watching this industry for many years, it’s hard to bet against something coming along at some time that sweeps the IT world off its feet. But it sure beats me -- and a lot of really smart techies -- what that technology, product or market might be.

In this issue, we take a look at some technologies that are grabbing the interest of IT executives worldwide -- wireless, Web services management tools and Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology -- and have the potential to provide a significant boost to the technology sector.

After years of false starts, industry experts tell senior correspondent John K. Waters that IT is finally building some promising apps that are providing business users and executives with secure wireless access to corporate apps and data. Why now? Waters points out that the tools and technology are finally available for creating infrastructures that support wireless technology and for building some promising new apps. And insiders tell us that a slew of new tools for building wireless apps will be coming out of the annual JavaOne conference later this month in San Francisco.

On the other hand, most corporate IT operations are not yet clamoring for Web services management tools, notes veteran technology journalist Johanna Ambrosio (“Is now the time to manage Web services?”). While Web services are spreading through corporate development shops for integration and component projects, few operations have taken on the more complex effort of building a Web services-based IT architecture, a system that will command stringent management. And if many experts are correct, a continuing proliferation of Web services will require the development of complex infrastructures and management tools.

RFID is attracting much attention these days as retail giants Wal-Mart and Target are requiring their suppliers to utilize the technology for tracking consumer products. Staffer Rich Seeley points out that industry giants IBM, Microsoft, Oracle and Sun have all jumped onto the RFID bandwagon. Yet most agree that RFID and sensor network ubiquity is a decade away.

Is one of these technologies “the next big thing”? Will there be a next big thing? You can be sure that we’ll be keeping a close eye on these and other emerging technologies and reporting back to you in the months ahead.

About the Author

Mike Bucken is former Editor-in-Chief of Application Development Trends magazine.

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