Since I am a domain consultant in the securities and capital markets vertical working with clients like investment banks, asset managers, custodians, exchanges, other data providers / market utilities, the topics that interest me are really about where the capital markets industry will head (as if all the action in the last two years was not enough, we still hope for interesting times!), what is up with the global economy (expectations of good economic progress make clients want to spend more on technology), the market momentum (always good to know the head winds our clients are facing or if are they in a "tide will lift all boats environment") and the "business of technology". In other words, is there something that will disrupt our clients' current technology architecture (the way spreadsheets did it way back then) or even in some situation our clients' business model itself (remember what the internet did to market cap of some of the Wall Street's bluest of blue retail brokerages).
If 2008 faced the "great credit crisis" and 2009 was meant to be the year of stabilization, 2010 is supposed to be the "getting back to normal" year (albeit "new normal" as some call it) such that the global economy positions itself strongly for the next decade.
Certainly, there are a number of known unknowns and unknown unknowns looming up ahead - the state of the dollar, the end of the war (when?), the focus on emerging markets (is there real potential in them?), how will the big global growth engines play out - US, Japan and China (each with their own share of issues), and what will happen to the bubbles - in gold, emerging markets, stocks, metals and real estate.
Despite all these worries, 2010 might well be the first hesitant step towards a more steady and gradual return in global growth and even more technology spending. We can expect technology to be at the heart of recovery in the US (reduce human latency, increase productivity), to some extent, even in Japan where the problems are not the real economy, but fiscal-driven and where the use of technology at the operational level (such as use of enterprise apps) is relatively lower than even in the US (hence there is a productivity impact). In the BRICS, with the recovery and stimulus, we can expect focus to shift towards more spending on infrastructure technologies - building complex commuter networks for example, creating identity cards, managing large health insurance systems or the tax database etc.
So if one were to really predict if the recovery - global and local - will last for the long term (or well into the next decade) I would look at what countries and firms are doing in terms of tech spending. Is it spending the RTB (run the bank) type or the CTB (change the bank) type? What conversations are global leaders getting into - are these just about shoring up the dollar or about positively influencing climate change? As we get into the heart of 2010, let's look for the signs. We need to understand as soon as we can whether we are headed for "paradise regained" offering us creative nirvana or a lost decade that we should brace for.