AS 1993 draws to a close, it is worth reviewing the year and appropriate to look at the trends in information technology which we can expect to have a significant impact on businesses, government and other organisations in 1994 and beyond. This year has not been a year of much innovation in information technology. It has been one of consolidation. That is not to say that product development came to a grinding halt - it certainly did not - but the developments have largely been improved performance, or grunt, as it is now endearingly termed. Hardware prices have fallen dramatically again and many manufacturers are struggling to hold any semblance of the revenues they had been achieving. Even those who have managed to hold revenues are suffering from substantially reduced margins brought about by keen competition. I am not being too cynical when I say that the pure survival of many hardware companies in 1994 will depend on the prowess of their advertising and marketing in finding ways to lure the buying public into believing that extra ''grunt'' is an essential requirement for every installation. The latest Intel Pentium-based PCs are claimed to be 3,000 times faster than the original 8088 microprocessor used in the first IBM PC. Perhaps an easy way to review whether you need that amount of power on your desktop is to look at what you were doing on the desktop 10 years ago and establish how much your applications or applications needs have grown. With the greatest of deference to Intel, IBM with its PowerPC 603 and DEC with its Alpha chip, I doubt very much whether the applications growth factor gets anywhere near 3,000. But the manufacturers and vendors are in survival mode and it matters not about common-sense in the marketplace, in 1994 they will continue to dream up colourful and plausible reasons to upgrade. The start of a philosophical and physical rationalisation is evident in the software industry with application areas rather than building tools becoming the primary demand. Users are demanding solutions to their problems, not just a technically clever box of building blocks. In simple analogy, a raw spreadsheet package is no longer enough: the user wants templates installed and ready to use immediately in his or her business. Windows-type graphical user interfaces are becoming the common solution to making things ''simple'' for users, and, sadly, until something better comes along, it looks as though the extreme overheads of these interfaces are here to stay. I still prefer a user interface which is tailored to the application or group of applications because many more efficiencies can then be built into the installation, and considerable money saved. It doesn't require a lot of thought to appreciate that any interface which is built for general use must contain a vast number of facilities which individual users will never need, hence these GUI standards come with massive and unnecessary overheads. In my view, it really does not matter what the interface is because it is the training and operational efficiency in the application area that is important, not the interface. Eventually, I hope, computer buyers will realise that the argument of ease-of-operation as it is applied to Windows does not mean the easy operation of their particular application, it simply means a common, and not always convenient, functional operation of the actual desktop equipment. One of the most significant trends during 1993 has been the substantial reduction in the costs of international telecommunications around the globe. Enterprising people have realised that the actual location of any information database is no longer significant because customers will connect from any part of the world. From an international trading point of view, the use of established value-added network providers is becoming commonplace for inter-linked global networks, both intra-company and between trading partners. And, finally, it would be wrong to look at the technological future without speaking about multi-media applications. My view is that 1994 may see some impressive developments in the area of multi-media on the desktop simply because of the raw power of the new equipment, but it is not likely that much of this will have an impact within commerce and industry as there is little productivity gain from prettier pictures and better sound. However, video-conferencing utilising television-type terminals as telephones will begin to proliferate because this technology is proving to be a substantial cost saver. As usual, the information technology industry is moving far faster than the demand, so we will again see a year of artificially created demand in 1994.