Greater end-user generated content, an increased focus on technology in education and connecting more people to the internet are all trends Intel believes will be key in 2007. Abdul Rahman Jarrar believes they will play an important role in shaping the IT industry
While he may work for one of the world's leading technology companies, Intel's regional manager for government affairs Abdul Rahman Jarrar does not believe such organisations will have it all their own way in deciding the future for the IT industry. Jarrar believes end-users will have an increasingly larger role in determining the direction technology takes through the creation of new usage models - both by themselves producing their own content and by IT companies turning to users more to find out how best to make technology available.
"In the past corporations defined what technology looks like and what content looks like, but looking forward we believe there will be more and more users creating their own content and putting it online, making it available, and organisations actually seeking out what users want in order to use technology and implement those solutions," Jarrar tells
A classic example of this, Jarrar claims, is YouTube, the popular websharing site recently acquired by Google; the site works by people uploading their own video content for other people to enjoy. YouTube has enjoyed massive success since it launched in 2005, with some 65,000 new videos posted on it every day.
"We believe there will be more and more users creating their own content and putting it online and organisations actually seeking out what users want in order to use technology and implement those solutions," Jarrar says.
This trend is especially likely to take off in the Middle East where there is at present a lack of local content, Intel believes. "Content is critical, people need to have local, relevant content they can relate to," Jarrar says.
The creation of local content through these new usage models is one of seven trends Jarrar believes will have the most impact on the industry, and the wider society, over the next few years.
Helping people to access that local content is another of the trends that Intel is backing to be big in 2007. Jarrar says technologies such as WiMax will experience ‘unprecedented' growth this year.
"What we see happening is the deployment of new technologies, wireless technologies that allow users to connect to the internet at high speeds in a very cost-effective manner, technologies like WiMax," he claims.
Jarrar believes the Middle East in particular is ripe for WiMax to flourish because of the high cost of broadband.
"If you look at every country in the region [the cost of broadband is] higher than the average in the US or other developed countries. So it is kind of a natural drive towards a technology that is cost effective, that will enable cheaper broadband," he adds.
Having in the large part already started licensing fixed WiMax, most regulators in the region are now starting to look at mobile WiMax, Jarrar says, and commercial deployment of WiMax in the region is likely to take off this year.
"These are two of the things: better connectivity, hopefully cheaper, and then the local content we believe will be critical for the region," Jarrar says.
Intel has been a keen promoter of WiMax and the benefits it can bring to the Middle East. One of its pet projects has been the setting up of a wireless high-speed internet network in Oseem village, on the outskirts of Cairo. The company set up an education solution, a health care unit and an e-government kiosk in the village to enable local people greater access to technological services.
Breaking down the digital divide is a topic close to Intel's heart, and something it is also putting its money behind - the company is investing US$1 billion over the next five years in its World Ahead programme through which it aims to help the world's underserved have greater access to PCs.
The chip giant's chairman Craig Barrett has been particularly vocal on this topic and has stated in interviews with
that access to the internet is an important first step to helping people out of poverty.
So, not surprisingly, IT education is another trend the firm is highlighting in its technology forecast for this year. As well as stressing the importance of tackling the digital divide, the chipmaker is also predicting that the integration of IT and education in the Middle East, Turkey and Africa will become more important in the coming year.
Mobility will be another driving force in 2007, according to Intel. More and more people will be demanding ultra-mobile devices which will give them internet access at all times and freedom from the confines of the office or the home, the firm predicts.