With budgets tight and the economic conditions still rocky, being able to look into a crystal ball and see what technologies will define the business winners and losers of the coming years would help many CIOs sleep better at night.
In the absence of a future-seeing orb, analyst house Gartner has put together its annual list of strategic technologies that it predicts CIOs need to keep their eye on.
The analyst defines a strategic technology as a technology that has the potential to significantly impact an enterprise over the next three years either because the technology requires major financial investment, could be disruptive to IT or could pose a risk if adopted too late.
1. Media tablets
Last year, media tablets were combined with mobile applications on Gartner's strategic technologies list but for 2012 they deserve a spot on their own. CIOs need to find a system to manage different form factors, platforms and technologies as companies increasingly need to accommodate the different devices chosen by employees and consumers.
2. Mobile-centric applications and interfaces
The traditional format of user interfaces will change from PC-centric to mobile-centric with less focus on windows, menus and points and more focus on touch, gesture, search and voice.
3. Contextual and social user experience
Applications that use information about the end user's environment, activities, connections and preferences will be increasingly used to improve interactions with the end user.
4. Internet of things
The internet is expanding to include physical objects fitted with sensors or intelligence. According to Gartner, while concept of the internet of things has been around for years, 2012 will see an acceleration in the number and type of objects being connected to the internet thanks to the prevalence of technologies such as contactless payment functionality and image recognition.
5. App stores and marketplaces
By 2014 there will be more than 70 billion mobile apps downloaded each year from app stores, according to Gartner, including an increasing number...