Bah humbug! Why is it at this time of year that every man and his dog wants to predict what’s going to happen in the coming year or years. Is it some primeval urge to defy fate, do they really possess the gift to see into the future, or are they just trying to prove how clever they are?

If it’s the latter, which I believe accounts for 90 per cent of the cases, it would be far more clever if they reported to us how many of last year’s predictions they made actually came true, or even close to true. And I’m not talking about the really obvious stuff like ‘telcos will cut costs’ or ’10,000 jobs will be lost because of new technology’ or ‘digital services will boom,’ any idiot can predict those things.

Let’s take a look at the top 20 ‘clangers’ that have passed my desktop in the last few weeks. I’ll keep them anonymous to screen the perpetrators from total embarrassment, although hanging, drawing and quartering would be advisable for some. The first five came from one of the world’s leading research and analysis companies (my comments are in italics).

  1. By 2015, nontraditional money creation and exchange will enable 125 million more people to participate in the mainstream global economy (whatever does all that mean?)
  2. By 2016, half of US utility customers will have access to standardized energy usage data, but only 20 percent will use it (I’m lost)
  3. By 2014, less than 2 per cent of consumers globally will adopt Near Field Communication (NFC)-based mobile payments (is that 2 per cent of people with NFC enabled mobile devices are all consumers?)
  4. More than 50 percent of government shared-service organizations that provide cloud services by 2015 will discontinue or downscale them by 2017 (well, that’s bucking the trend, surely)
  5. By 2016, patients will be harmed or placed at risk by a medical device security breach (Where? How many? By what?)
  6. Interest in iOS and Android platforms to remain stable (brilliant, why even bother)
  7. Mobile will forever change retail (sorry, I think it already has)
  8. More business opportunities around big data for service provider (you’re kidding, really?)
  9. Omni-channel to become a top priority for 2013 (Omni what?)
  10. Potential partnerships to establish between service providers and machine-to-machine vendors to roll out connected home initiatives such as proactive care (just woken up, have we?)
  11. More strategic partnerships to form among service providers, OTT players and device manufacturers(who’d have thought that?)
  12. Big data grows up – there will be an emergence of Big Data Administrators, who will play a critical role in using new technologies and processing power to take a cold, hard (and useful) look at data and its business application (wow, all that stuff about big data must be true, how do I become a BDA?)
  13. In 2013 people are going to have a harder time managing the security of their devices (no problem if you keep them with you at all times)
  14. Africa will become a new safe harbor for cybercriminals (there may be some other continents that will fight for that dubious crown)
  15. M2M is about to enter the next evolutionary stage: at the moment we collect data, but the real benefits of M2M will become apparent by analyzing this data (is that really the reason for collecting all this data?)
  16. Digital “ants” will protect the US power grid from cyber attacks (I dread to think what a digital ant looks like)
  17. Software will predict traffic jams before they occur (that I have to see!)
  18. Criminals will benefit from unintended consequences of espionage (unintended espionage, never heard of such a thing)
  19. Advancements in speech, natural language understanding and artificial intelligence will continue to revolutionize the mobile user interface (this one is a perennial favorite)
  20. Mobile video calls and Facetime will explode (I threw that one in because it’s another annual favorite that never seems to happen, despite Apple’s best efforts to convince us otherwise).

Of course, there are some people you really didn’t want hear predictions from, like your boss. When he or she predict there will be cutbacks in your department then it’s probably a good time to look for a new job. For ‘The Insider’ it’s time for a dubiously earned break, he’ll be back in the new year, unless his boss has another prediction!

First published at TM Forum as The Insider, 20 December, 2012