• 01/09/2004
    3:00 PM
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Linux Is One of This Year's Top Trends

What's hot in 2004? Linux in the data center, according to Forrester Research. Also pretty warm: offshore outsourcing and RFID.

Among its other trends prognostications, Forrester is betting that customer relationship management (CRM) revenue, down significantly in 2003, will remain relatively flat through 2005, with growth in the single-digit range. And 2004 will be the last year, according to Forrester's interviews with IT managers, where enterprises will be in a strong negotiating position with telecommunications providers. After that, the improving global economy, and higher revenues by telecomm suppliers, will begin to turn the tables and make communications a seller's market.

Enterprises should take advantage of this shift no later than the third quarter of 2004, and at that time consider inking one- or two-year contract extensions to lock in the lower prices.

And some vertical markets, said Forrester analysts, will be better bets than others for vendors in 2004.

Healthcare will remain a hot target for IT providers this year, according to Forrester's data and the opinions of the IT decision makers its interviewed. Although healthcare will be forced to pare expenses to stay competitive in a world where costs continue to skyrocket, IT will be spared the worst of the ax.

Wal-Mart, which is aggressively pushing RFID (Radio Frequency IDentification) on its suppliers, will be the gorilla that calls the tune in 2004 in the consumer packaged goods technology arena. "Wal-Mart will get what it wants with RFID," said Adrian. Outside of the Wal-Mart universe, however, RFID will find a rougher road. Widespread adoption of RFID by enterprises needs something it doesn't yet have: a solid return on investment.

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