As a new year begins there is always a clamor to know what is in store for the next 12 months. Some will look at last year and make a string of resolutions and predictions. While I do not pretend to be Carnac the Magnificent of Johnny Carson’s days, here is my take on the trends in 2012 that will shape ADR and ODR.
1. Online Dispute Resolution (ODR):
Advances in technology will make ODR a more viable solution for the parties and neutrals alike. Technology has reached a level of general acceptance and will gain widespread recognition as an aide to make dispute resolution faster, cheaper and more widely available. Not that everyone will race online to settle to an entire resolution process, but widespread adoption of parts of the process will continue to increase. This is largely because:
The speed of technological change is now “warp speed”. According to Joshua Topolsky editor-in-chief of the Verge “What will happen over the next few years in user interface design and decentralized cloud systems will make the previous 20 years seem tame by comparison. We’ve crossed over from a long, slow evolution to an explosive revolution in what a computer is and how you use it — and there’s no looking back.” But Topolsky is not alone as the financial community is planning ahead and quantifying activity for the next several years. As the biggest maker of networking equipment, Cisco has a good view of what the future of the online data boom looks like. It even employs a "Chief Futurist" to help guide its business.
According to analyst Lauren Kusick of Stansbury Research, Cisco is laying out the numbers for 2015 (less than four years away). By 2015:
Those are just the basic "big picture" numbers. Cisco also confirmed the enormous trend in mobile devices – gadgets like smartphones and tablet computers. In 2015, traffic from wireless devices will exceed traffic from wired devices. (Today, wireless makes up just 37% of traffic.)
These enormous growth rates are happening because of two factors. First, the world is becoming increasingly interconnected. Nearly one billion people accross China and India are using the Internet. Meanwhile, the fastest growth is in Latin America, where traffic is expected to increase at an annual rate of 50% over the next four years.
The second big factor is video. Unlike the average Microsoft Word document, videos are huge files. Internet video is currently about 40% of online traffic. That percentage will rise to more than 60% by 2015 – and perhaps demonstrate the universal appeal of real time pictures.
Dave Evans, Cisco's "Chief Futurist", summed up the explosion in traffic by noting that it took 200 years to fill the U.S. Library of Congress. He pointed out that Internet users now create the equivalent amount of digital data every two minutes. In February Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google, announced that “The PC is Dead”. This increasing digitalization of our lives will affect the way we settle disputes.
2. Mediation and Arbitration:
3. Courts and ADR:
All and all 2012 appears to stand ready to sling shot ADR and ODR to new record numbers of the highest form of dispute resolution – party directed resolution.
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