Asynchronous XML messages are what makes this service-oriented world possible. We are just at the beginning phases, a new architecture is needed and with that comes new and interesting opportunities for software investments. I totally agree here as most of the service-oriented talk from many of the large tech vendors is still a pipe dream and more marketing than fully functioning product. In addition, most enterprises are experimenting with various aspects of the above themes but far from prime-time in terms of deployment...
A world of
1. Software and data delivered as services
2. Hardware as a virtualized resource
3. Autonomic data sources (RFID, tags, smart sensors)
4. Occasionally connected usage
5. Services cross firewalls (security)
Most of this will be also covered next week during the Web 2.0 conference which will investigate the same trends.
One other good additional post along the same line, but from the developper perspective, on what the platform is to deliver in such a almost-on world from the new blog from Adam Bosworth (former Mr XML at Microsoft, them BEA, now Google..).