Gartner, Inc. released today 10 key predictions that showcase the trends and events that will change the nature of business and IT in 2007 and beyond.

These predictions are for general technology areas rather than specific to industries or roles within an organization. The predictions are intended to compel high-tech companies and IT professionals within enterprises to action and position themselves to take advantage of the coming changes, and not be damaged by them.

"Selected from across our research areas as the most compelling and critical predictions, the trends and topics they address this year indicate that priorities, markets, cultures and technologies are all rapidly changing," said Daryl Plummer, managing vice president and Gartner Fellow. "These changes will require that IT and business change their approach to delivering and quantifying value. IT professionals must examine these predictions for opportunities to increase their support of consumer-driven requirements and their ability to help the business deliver stronger services to those customers."

This year's predictions

Through 2009, market share for the top 10 IT outsourcers will decline to 40.0 percent (from 43.5 percent now), equaling a revenue shift of $5.4 billion. As market share declines, some key outsourcing vendors will cease to exist in their current named form. The reduced number of large contracts, increased amount of competition and reduction in contract sizes have placed great pressure on outsourcers, which will have to "sink or swim" based on support for selective outsourcing and disciplined multisourcing competencies.

Only one Asia/Pacific-based service provider will make the global top 20 through 2010. The number of global players in consulting that come from Asia is relatively small. This will limit the ability of the Asian juggernaut to grow revenue streams rapidly and become global leaders.

Blogging and community contributors will peak in the first half of 2007. Given the trend in the average life span of a blogger and the current growth rate of blogs, there are already more than 200 million ex-bloggers. Consequently, the peak number of bloggers will be around 100 million at some point in the first half of 2007.

By 2009, corporate social responsibility will be a higher board- and executive-level priority than regulatory compliance. Regulation has become a key issue for government and the corporate world, with the aim of ensuring more-responsible behavior. However, the need for companies to be socially responsible to their employees, customers and shareholders is growing as well. The future will see corporate boards and executives make this social dynamic a more-critical priority.

By the end of 2007, 75 percent of enterprises will be infected with undetected, financially motivated, targeted malware that evaded their traditional perimeter and host defenses. The threat environment is changing -- financially motivated, targeted attacks are increasing, and automated malware-generation kits allow simple creation of thousands of variants quickly -- but our security processes and technologies haven't kept up.

Vista will be the last major release of Microsoft Windows. The next generation of operating environments will be more modular and will be updated incrementally. The era of monolithic deployments of software releases is nearing an end. Microsoft will be a visible player in this movement, and the result will be more-flexible updates to Windows and a new focus on quality overall.

By 2010, the average total cost of ownership (TCO) of new PCs will fall by 50 percent. The growing importance and focus on manageability, automation and reliability will provide a welcome means of differentiating PCs in a market that is increasingly commoditized. Many of the manageability and support tools will be broadly available across multiple vendors. However, vendors that can leverage these tools further and can graduate from claims of "goodness" to concrete examples of cost savings will have a market advantage.

By 2010, 60 percent of the worldwide cellular population will be "