I’ve been following a couple of 2011 developments that together may determine the next big technology winners and losers. To get your click, I’ve been obscure in my title.

Spiders refers to the battle for control of the webs that connect us all together. Google won the first race by connecting webs of content, and now the second race is on for control of the social web. Facebook dominates the personal market, while LinkedIn has carved out a niche with professionals and now challenges its big cousin. Finally, latecomer Google (anybody see the irony?) may just sneak up on both by capitalizing on their respective weaknesses.

So what?

Consider this: The winner will control the web of social data. What people like, who they know who likes similar stuff, and where these potential customers are. This is powerful stuff that companies are just beginning to figure out. For example, a mobile app identifies five people in your condo complex who are big scuba divers, and one is on the boat trip with you right now. By helping you make connnections, the app’s developer can now sell marketing data to dive boat charters that then can offer you a group discount to come back together with your other new connections. Clearly, the company in control of this data will be in the center of a market worth a mind-blowing amount of money.

Elephants is an allusion to Hadoop and Horton, two pachyderms that represent that growing interest in big data technology. Eric Baldeschwieler, former Hadoop project leader at Yahoo and now CEO of Hortonworks, went so far as to state, “. . . We anticipate that within five years, more than half the world's data will be stored in Apache Hadoop.”

While I neither support nor refute that statement, it is a mighty big claim that illustrates a shift in data storage and analytics. The coming avalanche of geolocation and social connection data needs to go somewhere, and the elephants are making a big play to be the file storage and analysis platform of choice.[1]Of course the elephants will face competition, as big data does not equal Hadoop, and other regular data alternatives exist.

Spiders and elephants underscore two battles that, taken together, will shape your future architecture — like it or not. Where and when you place bets will determine if your company is a big winner or an also-ran over the next five years.

I’m doing research this quarter to address these trends further: 1) a CIO paper to demystify big data, and 2) an update to the The Top 15 Technology Trends EA Should Watch: 2011 To 2013. I look forward to your feedback.