Not a day goes by without my noticing some new gadget changing how we acquire and exchange information. At the recently concluded Data Center World, I saw first hand how our publisher and salesmen are making use of their newly issued iPads. I was very impressed by how quickly they are learning how to use these devices. Shortly afterwards, Emerson personnel used an iPad to demonstrate the features of an in-row cooling product being exhibited in their booth. That’s right, they used electronics to enhance the presentation of a product that was standing before us.

Very quickly, the image of the iPad has morphed from being a Kindle-like reader to being a productivity and sales tool.

During this same week, Shelly Palmer of MediaBizBloggers estimated that we could expect to see 75 million broadband-connected television sets installed, connected, and registered by 2013 in the U.S. Oddly enough, drag on this growth could come from the increased use of laptops, PCs, and phones to access content using Hulu and YouTube. In addition, growing sales of the newly revamped AppleTV and GoogleTV suggest that dramatic change will continue to roil the broadcast industry, at the very least.

During a dinner Tuesday night, ASCO’s Armand Visioli said that he thought information offerings like these would continue to drive a need for new data centers. He pointed out that each one of these devices and services creates more and larger data streams that are accessed more frequently by more people.

I agree with Armand. In fact, as these devices and services become ubiquitous in the consumer world, employers increasingly are pushing, or at least encouraging, employees to increase their productivity at work by using devices once seen as consumer goods. This is a sea change in the adoption cycle. Many of us saw our first PCs at work, when IT support personnel first left the mainframe room to help us load 5-1/4-in. floppy boot disks into our first work-issued computers. My colleagues at Sutton Publishing couldn’t begin to imagine how these clunky machines would be useful.

Last week, Bill Shadish of Fundamental Objects announced a new energy audit application for users of mobile devices running Android. Readers of Energy User News and Energy and Power Management will remember Bill as a regular contributor to those publications.

His announcement, above all the others, suggested to me just how much more data remains to be exchanged. Schneider Electric’s Aaron Davis made this very point during a presentation at Schneider’s editors event on September 28th. He cited the veritable tsunami of devices coming to empower the Smart Grid, including IP addressable appliances in the home, which will connect to utility devices, all of which will the utility and its customers can control remotely. He cited even more sophisticated forms of communications exchanges, including machine to machine, noting that the volume of these communications will far outweigh current levels.

If anything, these predictions will fall far short of the mark because they don’t account for changes brought about by unexpected innovation. On the whole, I think these observations support Visioli’s contention that dramatic shifts in the U.S. economy and growth in demand for services will continue to support our need for IT. Furthermore, these trends will bring further innovation in the servers and methods we use to meet this demand and in the facilities that house them.