Since 1998, Mitchell Levy, a CEO and founder of more than 10 traditional and Internet businesses, has been using the Comdex expo as a venue to make annual predictions of the top ten trends in business/e-commerce. For 2004, he has collected 225 predictions from 80 industry experts, and presents the top ten …

Trend 1: Viruses and spam get worse, not better

“The window of opportunity for corporations to apply patches to protect against computer vulnerabilities will continue to shrink as corporations will have to battle more than 3,500 new worms and viruses. The major worms of 2004 will blow right past traditional standalone anti-virus and firewall products and continue to ravage corporate networks.”
– Thomas E. Noonan, Chairman, President, and CEO, Internet Security Systems, Inc.

“Sadly, in 2004 we will have a so-called “zero-day” event – a case where a previously unknown exploit in the form of a virus or worm is unleashed broadly. Until now, all exploits have been based upon a previously disclosed vulnerability.”
– Tony Scott, CTO, IS&S, General Motors Corp.

“Do-not-spam lists will become more popular than do-not-call lists, thus posing new challenges for all companies on how to use the Internet to reach and communicate with potential customers without offending them.”
– Edward Segal, Author, Getting Your 15 Minutes of Fame

Trend 2: Continued global economic dependency and a backlash against offshore outsourcing

“Companies will become increasingly dependent upon the global market to achieve best-in-class services and minimize costs. The backlash against offshoring will increase as it becomes a political focus area and unions, politicians, and anti-globalists voice their concerns. As the U.S. presidential campaign heats up and the labor impact of recent large transactions are realized this will cause more outcry against offshoring.”
– Atul Vashistha, President and CEO, neoIt

“Increased IT offshoring will backfire, especially in the healthcare and financial services verticals, when hidden costs – and bugs – come home to roost.”
– Nicole Kidd, Journalist, Author,

“The shift of Silicon Valley-based employees to India- or China-based ones is only beginning. The 21st century will be Asian.”
– Patrick LeGranche, Chairman and CEO, Qarbon

Trend 3: Internet telephony continues disrupting the existing players

“Internet telephony takes off, creating a huge disruptive event for any organization selling communications services by the drop.”
– Mark H Goldstein, CEO, Retail Presents

“Public-access WLANs are going to be a huge success because cellular carriers are going to dominate this business. Far from being a threat to 3G, PWLANs are essential to the carriers, who need them to augment their data, and even voice, capacity. Look for combined WLAN/cellular handsets in 2004.”
– Craig J. Mathias, Principal, Farpoint Group

“Bill-to-phone solutions will provide significant profit areas for wireless carriers as well as third-party providers, when coupled with the present affordable hybrid devices capable of utilizing premium content such as MP3’s, games, and more.”
– Carol Erickson, CTO, YellowPepper, Inc.

Trend 4: For survival, companies continue to consolidate

“Companies will merge to survive. Independent companies with small product footprints, marketing budgets, and shallow customer support will fail. Marketing strategy and financial strength will again become causative factors of success.”
– Jeff Karan, Managing Partner, Woodside Capital Partners

“Supplier consolidation will continue to occur, especially as the number of new companies trying to enter the BPO market are not able to realize client wins soon enough to capitalize on their efforts.”
– Atul Vashistha, President and CEO, neoIt

“There will be continued consolidation in the search [technology] space; however, this consolidation will generate acquisition opportunities for specialty search engines and search-related technologies.”
– Karen Howe, CEO, Singingfish

Trend 5: WiFi gets bigger

“WiFi will become widespread worldwide in 2004. We expect homes to reach up to 20 percent penetration for wireless networking. In the office we will see new, rapid adoption now that standards, speeds, and security have advanced sufficiently enough for business-class deployment. For those on the road, we predict over half a million hot spots worldwide by the end of 2004.”
– Patrick Lo, Chairman and CEO, Netgear

“IM and e-mail by wireless device will cause growth of message volume in the U.S. to accelerate. Wireline growth rates will not go down. This will be added growth.”
– Dave Anderson, CEO, Sendmail, Inc.

“Free wireless hot spots will increase substantially. This is a no-brainer. Anyone who has blown hours in a Panera or Starbucks will tell you that a cool social ambiance plus free Internet connection is a successful recipe.”
– Daniel Anthony, Director, National Youth Leadership Forum on Technology

More here.