When you look at how the Internet has changed so many of the things people do daily, it is hard to believe that it has only been around for most people for about 20 years. It has truly transformed the way individuals and organizations communicate. For example, before the Internet became so widely available, organizations and small businesses largely relied on print marketing to make consumers aware of their products. It was difficult for businesses to determine which households were potential customers, so businesses relied on mass print marketing programs. These programs were expensive and varied in effectiveness. Compare that to how consumers are reached today. Most businesses have an Internet presence where consumers can learn about their products, read reviews from other customers, and order products directly from the web site. Social networking sites partner with businesses to promote products and services. Bloggers partner with businesses to highlight and endorse products and services. Most of this product placement is targeted to the potential consumer, rather than to the masses. Figure 1 shows several predictions for the Internet in the near future.

As new technologies and end user devices come to market, businesses and consumers must continue to adjust to this ever-changing environment. The role of the network is transforming to enable the connections of people, devices, and information. There are several new networking trends that will effect organizations and consumers. Some of the top trends include:

These trends are interconnected and will continue to build off of one another in the coming years. The next couple of topics will cover these trends in more detail.

But keep in mind, new trends are being dreamed up and engineered every day. How do you think the Internet will change in the next 10 years? 20 years? Figure 2 is a video that shows some of Cisco’s thoughts on future developments.