Now let’s take a closer look at the trends for 2011. The overall global economy will most likely continue to be sluggish in 2011 and therefore any business needs to re-evaluate its strategy in a down market. The Semantic Web is currently entering the slope of enlightenment after some sobering setbacks and inflated expectations (a range of academic and commercial projects didn’t deliver as expected, I hope to see a few more postmortems here soon). With that in mind I think that people want to learn about practical and tangible benefits of the Semantic Web and last but not least they want to know if an investment into Semantic Web skills can help them to land a new or secure them the one they have job. Therefore a key topic for 2011 will be jobs and more generally the job market and job roles. In a muted economic climate the question around contributions to the labor market will be of importance to the successful adoption of Semantic Web technologies overall. Here specifically the adoption of Semantic Web skills rather than the more generic term Semantic Technologies is of interest. It still is rare to find job advertisements in mainstream media outlets that specifically look for Semantic Web qualifications from applicants. To make more meaningful assertions about this trend it is necessary to monitor the development more frequently and in greater detail. It is interesting that “Cloud Computing” which is a more marketing and vendor driven concept has entered the professional job market vocabulary more efficiently despite a lack of a clear definition of what cloud computing actually is and how it differs from web-based and client-server computing in the past. I would like to emphasize that it is critical that governments, local authorities and established companies support their local entrepreneurial community and startups who will in consequence play a significant role as innovators and incubators for new jobs in 2011. That said I think we will be able to observe a new type of job seeker that needs to be even more intellectually flexible, mobile and can demonstrate the ability to independently and efficiently organize their own time on assigned projects with new technology. And even in this context Semantic Web technologies can be of great assistance. It’s a shame that products like eventSherpa didn’t make it to 2011 but I think the type of online personal digital assistant will see a renaissance based on technologies that make use of Semantic Web standards.
Furthermore I see the trend towards free open source framework software products to continue well into 2011. Jena, one of the most popular Semantic Web APIs, has just been accepted to become an incubator project at the Apache Software Foundation. And I suspect that more organizations and individuals will be willing to pay for high quality information and maybe even ontologies in the future if the price is right. And here the micro payment option will have to become an integrated part of any attractive Semantic Web based technology solutions. I also predict that in 2011 we will see a continued and dramatic professionalization of ontology engineering methodologies, tools and tools providers.
From conversations with publishing companies in New York City I can also see a small number of large news, media and publishing clusters emerge that will finally provide high quality and up-to-date structured meta-data for professional re-use.
Another long term trend which will be interesting to observe and is also related to jobs & skills is the shift from University / Institutional to corporate/private degree awarding powers, the recent announcement by Pearson publishers gives a glimpse of what potential revenue model there is for companies in awarding professional degrees. I am just thinking about the great training courses in the Semantic Web industry that could benefit from appreciation of professional certificates … What do you think?
In addition we should not forget that 2011 will most likely have a strong political overtone and online social media will heavily influence the discussion and in this context semantic technologies could play a decisive role.