Emerging Tech

Gartner predicts IT's destiny over the next five years

Gartner has released its top prognostications for IT in the next five years, including predictions about tablets, user-owned devices, the cloud, and automating IT work.

Over the next five years most IT departments will support iPad-like tablets as well as user-owned devices,  automation will cut a quarter of IT labor hours, cloud service providers will multiply big-time, and attackers will use the Internet to take down real world infrastructure. Those are a few of Gartner's latest prognostications in a new forward-looking research report.

Gartner loves to play crystal ball soothsayer, and IT professionals and journalists love mocking the Gartner analysts when they get things wrong. Nevertheless, this information is worth a look because Gartner spends a lot of time with the leaders of some of the world's largest companies talking about long-time plans and goals, and because Gartner analysts also take the time to think through the potential trajectories of current trends.

Summing up the report, Gartner analyst Darryl Plummer said:

"With costs still under pressure, growth opportunities limited and the tolerance to bear risk low, IT faces increased levels of scrutiny from stakeholders both internal and external. As organizations plan for the years ahead, our predictions focus on the impact this scrutiny will have on outcomes, operations, users and reporting. All parties expect greater transparency, and meeting this demand will require that IT become more tightly coupled to the levers of business control."

In other words, IT will need to tie its activities much more closely to measurable business results and operate more in the open rather than locked away in the secret laboratory of the server room or IT office.

Below is Gartner's list of its top eight predictions, culled from over 100 submitted by analysts in various research specialties. The wording in each of these predictions is quoted directly from Gartner.

  1. By 2015, a G20 nation's critical infrastructure will be disrupted and damaged by online sabotage.
  2. By 2015, new revenue generated each year by IT will determine the annual compensation of most new Global 2000 CIOs.
  3. By 2015, information-smart businesses will increase recognized IT spending per head by 60 percent.
  4. By 2015, tools and automation will eliminate 25 percent of labor hours associated with IT services.
  5. By 2015, 20 percent of non-IT Global 500 companies will be cloud service providers.
  6. By 2014, 90 percent of organizations will support corporate applications on personal devices.
  7. By 2013, 80 percent of businesses will support a workforce using tablets.
  8. By 2015, 10 percent of your online "friends" will be nonhuman.

I think the most likely of these predictions are numbers 6, 7, and 1 (scary, but very possible). I think number 2 looks great in a PowerPoint presentation but will difficult to measure and implement in the real world. I think number 3 is extremely optimistic and I have a difficult time seeing many scenarios where it could play out, especially since the overall cost of most technologies is decreasing.

To read more, check out the full summary and description of each of the Gartner predictions, or read the entire report if you have a Gartner research subscription. You can also attend Gartner's free webinar on Dec. 15 for more information and additional commentary.

About

Jason Hiner is the Global Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Global Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He is an award-winning journalist who writes about the people, products, and ideas that are revolutionizing the ways we live and work in the 21st century.

47 comments
Brenton Keegan
Brenton Keegan

"By 2014, 90 percent of organizations will support corporate applications on personal devices." Should be. "By 2014, at least one major company will be in an expensive lawsuit involving company data on a stolen personal device."

ggeo99
ggeo99

As recent Wikileaks case has proved, the "CLOUD" (Amazon, Ebay, Paypal, Everydns, etc - with the worthy noted exception of Twitter so far), can be easily disrupted in a matter of whim. The terms and conditions under which they provide both "free" and paid-for services will always give them grounds for dropping your content if they deem it in their interests to do so.

dmcgovern
dmcgovern

8.By 2015, 10 percent of your online ?friends? will be nonhuman.

ScarF
ScarF

I am amazed by the insistance of Gartner's technology analysts to continue viciate the IT business with their wrong predictions. I am more amazed that there are still individuals believing whatever that intelectually limited analysts have to say on whatever subject. The problem with Gartner's predictions - as with anyone's others - stays within the fact that they are nothing but extrapolations of past events into the future, using empirical and unreliable models. While a model may be valid for a limited and closed interval - the one used for defining the model - it is a fundamental mathematical mistake to use that model for making extrapolations, while one can barely use the model for intrapolations. Blah. I see Gartner's predictions - as well as their magic quadrant - just a foundation for gossip and rumours. Too few of Gartner's predictions became reality - one failure coming into my mind now is the magic quadrant about NAC (network access control) published when the NAC was already half dead. I also see Gartner's predictions as an aggresive push of masked advertisment. It is not conformed with the scientifical methodology to make unproved, untested and untestable assumptions - see Descartes. Since Gartner doesn't follow the scientifical method, everything they say falls inside the "coffee talk" no serious business should take into consideration. Finally, Gartner?s ?research? has historically been paid for by special interests.

jkameleon
jkameleon

Consequently, there already are established procedures to deal with such problems in place: for(;;) { DoMoreWithLess(); if(SomethingWentWrong) { ScapegoatTheIT(); if(StillTakingTheHeat) { FireTheScapegoats(); HireAnotherTeamOfLosers(); } } }

dford
dford

Hi bloodrose903 I get my daily astrology fix that I am pretty sure is computer generated and mailed - for instance David

bloodrose903
bloodrose903

Mock all you like there quite possibly are a few grains of likely possibilities there. Can someone please explain no. 8 to my please, though?.....

SKDTech
SKDTech

And it will be due to the actions and regulations imposed by its government. And I still wonder what brainiac supervising more than a few dozen seats in a small business would want to support "personal" devices. Too much diversity of hardware and software causes too many headaches as well as liability issues. Add to that the blurring of the lines of control and it is nightmare waiting to happen. When the company owns the hardware and software the company is allowed to control and monitor for improper or illegal use as well as being able to properly sanitize data and prevent intrusion(to the best of their ability).

cabanossi-21666366011136960807907799337173
cabanossi-21666366011136960807907799337173

To me it is a view as seen looking through the microscope of highly talked about current, not future events, ignoring past mistakes and historical developments. Such views are not new: when the global crisis hit world economies in the 1990s, all industry prophets were predicting doubling growth rates every 2 years. The rise of China was missed by industry prophets too as they were concentrating on the playful little tigers instead of watching the sleeping dragon. Don't forget the great experts of banking and economic theory who did not see the approaching bulldozer of the still ongoing financial crisis triggered no doubt by massive military spending and making wars on many fronts against historically unbeatable foes. Does Nostradamus have a more accurate prediction?

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

Not really. Sometimes they get it right, always for the wrong reasons though. Bunch of special/vested interest lobbyists and parasites basically.

Justin James
Justin James

Gartner has no clue. Here's the problem: "Nevertheless, this information is worth a look because Gartner spends a lot of time with the leaders of some of the world?s largest companies talking about long-time plans and goals, and because Gartner analysts also take the time to think through the potential trajectories of current trends." In other words, they don't talk to anyone who is actually *doing* anything. If you want to know what is going to happen, ask the person who is doing the work, who can usually tell you in the first few days if a year-long initiative is going to work or not. Don't ask the executive whose career depends on insisting that a project is a success, when it is an abject failure. "Sure, we've got the new ERP system done, everyone loves it?" OK, then why are 2/3rds of the seats we bought unused? J.Ja

jmarkovic32
jmarkovic32

Most CIOs have no concept of how to generate revenue. So until then they'll fall back on their safety blanket: Outsourcing and other mindless cost-cutting gimmicks.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

1. Infrastructure attack - already happened to Iran's nuclear system. No, that's not G20, but it does serve as a nice demonstration of concept. 2. How does a support department generate revenue? Are the corporate legal team or HR expected to generate revenue? Do they mean cutting costs? 3. Increased per-head spending - is that spending per IT head or per user head? My user support budget could certainly use a 60% boost. 4. I'm not sure what the phrasing means. Does this translate in to a 25% decrease in IT jobs? 5. What kind of cloud services will non-IT companies provide? 6 and 7 - supporting personal devices and tablets. The prediction doesn't say how wide spread or deep this support will be. All it takes is IT supporting the CEO's personal tablet, and no other toys or tablets for other employees, for a company to qualify in those 90% and 80% groups. Predict an average percentage of employees who will be using company supported personal equipment and / or tablets, Gartner; then we've got something to discuss. 8. What's a 'nonhuman' friend? Since the only online friends I have are here, some of y'all are looking at major surgery. Are the Borg docked off the Watterson Expressway?

nick.ferrar
nick.ferrar

I have to agree I don't understand that statement either, unless by friends they mean something you interact with which clearly isn't a valid definition of friend.

RipVan
RipVan

Before the death of Elvis Presley, something like 1 in 650,000 people were Elvis impersonators. After his death, there was a huge spike, and it was predicted that at that rate, shortly after the year 2015, 1 in every 4 people would be an Elvis impersonator. In their defense, I don't think Gartner was the company who made that prediction. Then again, maybe it wasn't a bad one, because right now I feel like a peanut butter and nanner sandwich, man... (deep fried)

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

It hardly qualifies as a 'friend'. If that's what Gartner means, then they're just applying a new name to an old concept (again).

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Anybody know of a web site that tracks the accuracy of Gartner's dice rolls, dart tosses, and cow chip bingo games?

biancaluna
biancaluna

Because said business leaders did not do enough about managing change in the organisation. I think it is easy to mock. Many years ago I worked on a future document for health services, and was mocked for making predictions aobut self service health care and online diagnostics tools. Fast forward. You are mistaking vision with execution. Different things, ask any PM worth their weight. And therefore Gartners reports are worthwhile.

tracy.walters
tracy.walters

As to increasing per head spending...businesses will increase spending only where there is a clear need perceived by the corporate leaders. If a company bases most of it's business advantage on automated processes, then they'll probably spend here, if that is not the company culture, and some overwhelming technology with a killer ROI doesn't pop on the market in the next year and gain really wide acceptance over the next three, then it's not going to happen. As to the 10% of online friends being non-human, I'd bet some pretty big money that this will be true...as to what form that will take, I think it likely that most people will be surprised.

John K.R.
John K.R.

I know of some IT departments within Universities that offer a service to external businesses where students can purchase whatever the business is selling using their ID cards. In return the IT department collects a portion of the fee from the sale and can also charge an installation fee to setup the equipment needed.

jlusk
jlusk

Many IT departments do generate revenue now by working as a service for the corporate client. This model is much like the movie industry studio model. The different departments purchase services from the IT department, that way the IT department responds to them like a client and is driven to keep expenses within revenues. Ultimately it prevents money from being spent outside of the company and hence generates revenue.

ToR24
ToR24

All of those bits flying around in circles in the aggregate uses a huge amount of power. Green and uber-cheap should occur in the same sentence (now it does). I predict we will be looking for technologies that work and store more crap in the dark, because when the power goes out, we will be looking for the exit. Ultra-cheap super-energy-efficient light bulbs, batteries, UPSs, generators and glow in the dark stuff are going to be hot.

chjohns
chjohns

Like IT, the average American will start buying many more services for the mundane tasks. For example, bring my kids to school, do my laundry, clean the house, cook me dinner, help my kids with homework, etc. With volume comes competition and lower prices. These will be commodity services and can buy big bundles at reasonable prices. Much cheaper than today where only the richest can afford them. Eventually we'll be like the travelers in the Pixar Wall-E movie. But we need to take the first step. I SMELL ICE CREAM!! The average American now expects things to just "work". (This should be a warning to Microsoft. We really don't want to reboot our car at 85 mph). We don't have time to "live" our life and make the small decisions unless of course that which game to play, that's different :) America is not only consumers of fatty food products (where are my Swiss Cake Rolls!) but are consumers of only the information that we would like to know. The bots need to know what I want, how I want it, and do whatever annoys me. I don't want to lift a finger and I want it now!

b372028
b372028

9. CEOs will demand greater automation through IT services to reduce business process errors and to offset the lack of cognitive skills in the dumbed-down workforce of the future. The automation will be less than perfect but acceptable to the CEO. 10. After a major disruption at an offshore site due to political and/or labor unrest, or due to a lengthy communications outage, a business will be brought to its knees and the CIO will lose his/her job for choosing to offshore a critical business function.

bcdugan
bcdugan

As companies and governments seek to reduce costs by looking for gerentated profit (function), they will forget that much of what they can do now is beacause of the IT infrastructure they currently have. As they cut maintenance and support (people for tools), they will start to doom what exists for what might be. Unless Gartner is wrong - again.

d.j.elliott
d.j.elliott

once upon a time, it was predicted that, as phones' use increased, there would never be enough operators to meet demand. Totally missed several major telephony innovations. In the early 80's, TVs were considered pretty much 'finished' as to changes...totally missing the twin juggernauts of cable & VHS etc. At the turn of the 20th century, astronomers felt comfortable that they mostly understood the universe, and this before galaxies were were understood to exist outside the Milky Way. You get it; its rare to predict the future and get it right. Gartner aggravates because they are so cocksure and so wrong all the time.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

They are pretyy effective lobbyists and parasites.

d.j.elliott
d.j.elliott

Taking the time to actually try and understand those pretty Gartner Graphics exposes their general uselessness. Predicting the future is not that easy. Catch any science fiction story or Disney documentary about the future. Mostly they are hilarious and reveal more about the 'now' rather than the future. Do remember that the last Star Trek OS's plot line involves an embittered woman (yes! a female!) who so wanted to be a command a starship she takes over the good Captain's body.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

We know they were 0-fer with Y2K... I don't recall that they've substantially improved their record since then.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

The last thing us boys at the coal face do is assume vision = execution, possibly because we are sort of in the middle of taking the last bit of wishful thinking and trying to make it a reality. Try not to confuse the process of delivering a blueberry muffin, with that image of the Madonna you saw on it...

jmarkovic32
jmarkovic32

There's always going to be someone cheaper. This is a gimmicky-ass model dreamed up by a CIO in 5 minutes. Operational support shouldn't need to generate revenue. Measuring the value of support personnel by how much revenue they generate is a metric created by the lazy.

jlusk
jlusk

I worked for a movie studio that followed this process and it worked very well. Maybe because the movie biz already does everything that way. But here is why it can work and not be a "stupid idea" BTW anyone who declares something a stupid idea without trying to fully understand it first, indicts themself. The IT department is driven to provide a high quality of service because they compete with outsourced solutions The IT budget is decided by the actual IT needed to meet the demand, not just seen as solely an expense item The IT staff do not get corporate malaise and view the "clients" as just dumb end users. A more traditional client/provider role requires good customer service IT is free to structure itself as needed and make technological decisions themselves. A competent CIO can use whatever technologies are required or desired if they can are effective and cost-effective. Without the budget being undermined by other corporate initiatives. This only works well in relatively large companies though, where econimies of scale help.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

In most businesses, the IT infrastructure is one of the utilities, in this case providing communications and data. Do executives expect the electrical system or plumbing to "generate revenue"? And what revenue is generated? I can't see where this model does anything except move in-house funds from one account to another, without adding anything to the bottom line.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

cdate type , number of seconds since 1970. Interestingly I was told by my employer during Y2K not to fix the ones I found as that code will be gone by then. :p Wasn't hooey where I worked, not as bad as they hyped, but it would have been very epensive if we hadn't put the effort in. Mixture of two and four digit year systems using dates to match stuff up.

ToR24
ToR24

You have a point, but if I could only recover the years wasted in Y2K verification certifications and recoding data, I could have been... somebody. Maybe not. What is the next date where everything falls apart because we can't count that high?

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

I know what had to be done to make it a non-event, and give thanks regularly I was not directly involved. But some of Gartner's initial predictions, particularly those about embedded computers, were strident enough that the alarmists were able to take them and run. Those with half-a-clue were fully aware that airplanes were never going to fall out of the sky and cars were always going to start, simply because most of those embedded computers don't effing care about the date. Gartner toned down the rhetoric as Y2K approached, but the damage was done with their initial predictions.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I'm in the camp that says nothing happened because we busted our butts to make sure it wouldn't, opposed to those who say nothing happened because it was all a bunch of hooey in the first place.

rm.squires
rm.squires

He was merely giving an example not saying that "everyone" uses online self-help medicare but people do use it.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

where our 'customers' could choose to go outside and we also sold our services externally. Good idea in theory, in practice it suffered somewhat....

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

That's why I called it stupid. As I said, most internal IT falls into the same category as plumbing and electrical: it's a utility. It's there to support the company's mission, not make money. If you are going to start charging departments for the support IT provides, why not go all the way and charge for computer time and network use? Then put in pay toilets and meters on the electrical outlets. As for it working for the movie business, that model is designed to maximize profits for the studio, while denying them to anybody else. See Buchwald v. Paramount.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Every penny of IT 'revenue' is just another department's 'expense'. There are a number of times when this make sense. It could be to make client departments aware of how much IT services cost, so they don't think storage space and backup operations don't carry operating costs. It could be to properly charge company clients for the resources used by multiple unrelated projects. But it ain't 'revenue'.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

It's meant to make us propeller heads a bit more business like, and force our customers to prioritise what and when we do stuff for them. So basically it's still everything, yesterday, wasting much needed resources on extra bean counters to administer all teh red tape. Never seen it work.