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October 18, 2011

Gartner Lists Top 10 Strategic Technologies for 2012

By Laura Stotler, TMCnet Contributing Editor

Gartner (News - Alert), Inc. has come up with the top 10 technologies and trends that will be strategic for most organizations in 2012. The company defines strategic technologies as those having the potential for significant impact on the enterprise over the next three years.

According to Gartner, factors denoting significant impact include a high potential for disruption to a business or to IT, the need for a major dollar investment and the risk of being late to adopt. The company says a strategic technology may be an existing technology that has matured or may have become suitable for a wider range of uses. It could also be an emerging technology offering an opportunity for strategic business advantage for early adopters. Finally, a strategic technology might have the potential for significant market disruption during the next five years, impacting an organization's long-term plans, programs and initiatives.

Gartner lists the top 10 strategic technologies for 2012 as:

1) Media Tablets and Beyond. Gartner believes enterprises will need to come up with two mobile strategies moving forward. One will address a business to employee scenario and one will address the business to consumer scenario. IT departments also need to address additional issues such as surfacing and management of APIs for accessing enterprise information and systems, integration with third-party apps, delivery through app stores and integration with various partners to enable social networking and more.

2) Mobile-Centric Applications and Interfaces. User interfaces with windows, icons, menus and pointers will be replaced with mobile-centric interfaces utilizing touch, gesture, search, voice and video. Applications are likely to shift to more focused and simple apps that can then be assembled into more complex solutions. This evolution will drive the need for new interface design skills, according to Gartner.

3) Contextual and Social User Experience. Context-aware computing takes information about the end user's or object's environment, connections, preferences and activities to improve interactions. A system that is contextually aware anticipates users' needs and proactively serves up appropriate and customized content. Social information is rapidly becoming a key source of contextual information to enhance the delivery of search results as well as the operation of applications.

4) Internet of Things (IoT). This concept encompasses how the Internet will expand as sensors and intelligence are added to physical items like consumer devices that are connected to the Internet. Elements include embedded sensors, image recognition and Near Field Communication (NFC) payment. NFC enables users to make payments by waving their mobile phones in front of a compatible reader.

5) App Stores and Marketplaces. Gartner forecasts that by 2014 there will be more than 70 billion mobile application downloads from app stores each year. Enterprise app stores shift the role of IT from a centralized planner to a market manager offering governance and brokerage services to users as well as a potential ecosystem to support entrepreneurs.

6) Next-Generation Analytics. Gartner believes analytics is shifting from traditional offline analytics to in-line embedded analytics. The company also sees a trend shift from analyzing historical data to explain what happened to analyzing both historical and real-time data from multiple systems to simulate and predict the future. Finally, over the next three years, Gartner forecasts analytics will mature along a third dimension, moving from structured and simple data analyzed by individuals to analysis of complex information of many types, from numerous systems.

7) Big Data. Many new, potentially disruptive technologies are emerging to deal with the size, complexity of formats and speed of delivery of today's data. Gartner foresees a time when users will not be able to put all useful information in a single data warehouse and logical data warehouses will bring together information from multiple sources as needed.

8) In-Memory Computing. Flash memory in consumer devices, entertainment equipment and other embedded IT systems will increase, according to Gartner. The company also believes in-memory computing offers a new layer of memory hierarchy for servers with a number of key advantages, including space, heat, performance and ruggedness.

9) Extreme Low-Energy Servers. Built on low-power processors typically used in mobile devices, low-energy servers have the potential to deliver 30 times or more processors in a particular server unit with lower power consumption than current server approaches.

10) Cloud Computing. Gartner believes the cloud is a disruptive force with the potential of having a broad, long-term impact in most industries. While the market is still in the early stages, Oracle, IBM and SAP all have major initiatives to deliver a broader range of cloud services during the next two years. Microsoft's (News - Alert) expanding cloud offering will also help boost competition and increase the number of enterprise-level cloud services.

“These top 10 technologies will be strategic for most organizations, and IT leaders should use this list in their strategic planning process by reviewing the technologies and how they fit into their expected needs,” said David Cearley, vice president and Gartner fellow.

“Organizations should start exploratory projects to look at promised candidate technology and kick off a search for combinations of information sources, including social sites and unstructured data that may be mined for insights,” said Carl Claunch, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner.

Edited by Rich Steeves
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