“Total lunacy,” “ridiculous,” and “unrealistic” are words that TechRepublic members used to describe Gartner’s 10 predictions for the future of enterprise businesses. The predictions focused on the changes in technology, economics, and social boundaries that may take place during the next eight years.

The forecast that drew the most fire was the projection that successful firms will lay off millions of IT workers after IT system automation substantially lowers labor requirements. Members’ reactions ranged from shock to amusement about the prospect of having to “look to other job segments for employment.”

We’ve gathered the best of the discussion’s posts as well as the alternate predictions set forth by a TechRepublic member. Find out if your forward thinking—or your psychic ability—is in line with your peers’.

No shrinking workforces
A member calling himself Normal Joe wrote that it’s “total lunacy” for tech workers to look for work in other sectors. Several members agreed, like David, who jokingly asked why Gartner had not predicted that the entire IT workforce would be eliminated.

Normal Joe compared the sector’s need for worker bees to the military’s need for foot soldiers.

“CEOs and CFOs are like Air Force generals; they think they can use the most high-speed expensive fighter aircraft with the most sophisticated weapons to achieve the mission, but in the end, it is the infantrymen that must take the hill,” Normal Joe said.

Another member, Randy, questioned Gartner’s definition of “successful firms.” Companies that are growing and making money generally don’t lay off people for the short-term gains layoffs provide, he noted.

“Long term, if the company is to grow, they will end up hiring more workers to replace the laid-off workers and generally spend more money to do so,” he explained.

Seven prophecies from a member
Ginel Lipan, a TechRepublic member living in New York City, wrote that Gartner has “no clue” and provided a list of his own predictions—with the caveat that he had only given the topic consideration for 15 minutes. Here is a synopsis of his seven prophecies:

  1. Control over computers—from hardware to software—will be slowly leaked away from an unsuspecting public and businesses by consolidated hardware and software giants like Intel and Microsoft, which will then truly have a chokehold over their markets.
  2. Prices for proprietary software will continue to be high in the United States, where monopolies are protected “in law and in belief.” However, the EU and Latin America will begin to take open source seriously due to fear of the American-assisted monopolies’ power over their lives.
  3. ASPs will begin to feel some serious resistance for two reasons. First, no business wants that sort of chokehold over the software it needs to survive. Second, no company wants to rent software that it can buy and keep for seven years if it needs to.
  4. Consumers will be blitzed with marketing aimed directly at them because their identities will be woven into their workstations, financial profiles, etc. In the future, your marketing profile will be as important as your credit rating, with factors like the viewing of pornography marring your record.
  5. Privacy software will come into its own, with a “serious reemergence of software that protects you from prying eyes.” However, that will start a privacy arms race, where Web sites prohibit your viewing unless you’re using a “trusted” Web browser.
  6. Governments will begin to openly censor the Internet to protect their interests, like China blocking Google, or Panama blocking all telephony ports in and out of the country because long-distance carriers are losing business to dialpad.com.
  7. Two factors will keep bandwidth fairly expensive: deregulation and greed. “There is just too much bandwidth concentrated to too few hands. Those hands are not interested in dropping their prices.”

Far out: Keep predictions to the near future
JimHM, a frequent poster to TechRepublic discussions, suggested that Gartner reel in its projections because it’s impossible to foresee the effects that international events, wars, and economic conditions may bring to the tech sector.

“Gartner needs to look three to, max, five years out,” he said. “Anything beyond that is pure speculation—and hype.”

Another member, Andy Kellett, a network engineer for Mohawk Industries with 16 years of IT experience, agreed that three years is as far out as anyone can accurately predict changes and trends in the IT field. As for Gartner’s prediction that many will be looking to other sectors for jobs, Andy provided a bit of advice:

“…Keep your skills honed, learn new stuff if at all possible, learn more about the business your employer is in, keep your resume updated, work hard, and have fun.” He added, “Oh yeah, network with others in case you need a new job at some point.”

Jgp_dba offered similar advice. He suggested three tasks: Rededicate yourself to improving your knowledge and abilities; diversify your income in a way that doesn’t take large amounts of time away from family, work, and self-improvement; and “hang on and pray a lot [because] the ride isn’t getting any smoother.”