Business Intelligence

Look out: The 10 rising tech trends of 2012

At its annual Symposium, Gartner unveiled its list of the 10 most strategic tech trends of 2012, including a controversial demotion of the cloud.

Gartner analyst David Cearly peppered his audience of change-weary IT leaders with a new list of the tech trends that are going to rock their world next year as Cearly helped kick off the annual Gartner Symposium ITxpo on Monday night in Orlando.

This is always one of the most anticipated presentations of Gartner Symposium since it helps give a 20,000-foot view of the year ahead. At a conference that bombards IT executives with tons of research and statistics, it gives a little context at the beginning to put things in perspective for the rest of the week.

Here's my breakout of the top 10, with select quotes from Cearly on the importantance of each of the items:

1. Media tablets and beyond - "The implications for IT is that the era of PC dominance with Windows as the single platform will be replaced with a post-PC era where Windows is one of a variety of environments IT will need to support." 2. Mobile-centric applications and interfaces - "When building user interfaces for multiple screen sizes and operating systems, new types of tools are needed to take the data feeds from applications and transform them so they are usable on the target device... There is no automatic way to do this — it takes engineering skills to design the right outputs." 3. Contextual and social user experience - "Context-aware computing (CAC) uses information about an end user or objects environment, activities connections and preferences to improve the quality of interaction with that end user or object." This is where GPS, NFC, bar code readers, image recognition, augmented reality, and various types of digital sensors come together to make computing devices automatically adapt to the environment and streamline things for users. 4. Internet of Things - "This Internet of things will enable a wide range of new applications and services while raising new challenges. For example, objects will increasingly act as "users" of other systems. Imagine a scenario where a warehouse robot interfaces with the ERP system for self replenishment or a truck schedules it's own maintenance. IT will increasingly have to consider how these scenarios impact issues such as software licensing." 5. App stores and marketplaces - "With enterprise app stores the role of IT shifts from that of a centralized planner to a market manager providing governance and brokerage services to users and an potentially an ecosystem to support apptrepreneurs." 6. Next-generation analytics - "We have reached the point in the improvement of performance and costs that we can afford to perform analytics and simulation for each and every action taken in the business. Not only will data center systems be able to do this, but mobile devices will have access to data and enough capability to perform analytics themselves, potentially enabling use of optimization and simulation everywhere and every time." 7. Big data - "Another driver challenging IT is extreme information. Many organizations are beginning to realize they must to use this data for decisions, new analytic applications and pattern-based strategies... Big data has such a vast size that it exceeds the capacity of traditional data management technologies; it requires the use of new or exotic technologies simply to manage the volume alone." 8. In-memory computing - "In-memory applications platforms include in-memory analytics, event processing platforms, and in-memory application servers... Running existing applications in-memory or refactoring these applications to exploit in-memory approaches can result in improved transactional application performance and scalability, lower latency (less than one microsecond) application messaging, dramatically faster batch execution and faster response time in analytical applications." 9. Extreme low-energy servers - "The adoption of low-energy servers — the radical new systems being proposed, announced and marketed by mostly new entrants to the server business — will take the buyer on a trip backward in time. These systems will remove virtualization and lessen the shared use of systems. " 10. Cloud computing - "We could see the failure of the cloud to live up to the hype... The luster could wear off." Gartner dropped the cloud from number one on the list for 2011 to number 10 for 2012. However, besides the hype issue, Cearly also noted that it's partially because the cloud is getting absorbed into lots of other operational IT areas.

Cearly also noted how IT leaders should think about the "strategic technologies" on this list:

"A strategic technology is one with the potential for significant impact on the enterprise during the next three years. Factors that denote significant impact include a high potential for disruption to IT or the business, the need for a major dollar investment or the risk of being late to adopt... Companies should use the list as a starting point and adjust based on their industry, unique business needs, technology adoption model, and other factors."

My take

It won't surprise anyone that tablets are at the top of the list, and rightfully so. From both an employee and customer standpoint, tablets have been driving a huge change in the way people interact with information over the past two years and the process is likely to accelerate in 2012 as the price of tablets drop, Android's tablet software improves, and Microsoft gets into the game with a legitimate play in Windows 8.

The biggest surprise was the demotion of cloud computing from number one to number 10. I think this was a bit of grandstanding on Gartner's part because they know that journalists and the tech world would react strongly to it and write about it. But, I think they're generally correct that a lot of enterprises are still balking at the cloud, or at least not jumping in with both feet. The cloud is being driven heavily by SMB and in order to fully come of age it will need convince bigger players to get on board for more than just a few fringe applications.

Other than that, I think big data, analytics, and apps should have all been a lot higher up on the list, while the Internet of Things is still a couple of years away from having a widespread impact -- it's going to require better, cheaper, and more ubiquitous mobile broadband.

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.

29 comments
rduncan
rduncan

I can see why the cloud is at number 10, companies are determined to get a return on their investments in storage and hardware, also there is still an infrastructure (broadband) constraint. However companies and enterprises are all about the bottom line, and the economic sensibilities of adopting an infrastructure as a service model will ultimately win out over any data protection/Compliance issues. I can see the cloud bubbling up to the top half of the scale next year as more hardware reaches end of life or out of warranty. Cloud developers in Microsoft technologies and app developers will be in greater demand. I will be very interested in the Windows 8 in the enterprise next year and I think this will keep tablets in top position again in 2013- however I don't see a clutch of tablet operating systems in the enterprise next year unless they connect to virtual desktops

tmudditt
tmudditt

I agree that clouds will probably become just another piece of the IT puzzle. The hype was primarily marketing rather than technical as the functionality of the software systems was minimally affected. If I compute the same thing in a cloud, a local server, or a PC, if the result is the same then why mention it? Of course if it really cost less and was more reliable, then that would be worth mentioning, but I haven't seen that yet.

ronwwallace
ronwwallace

How about an intelligent grammar correction application to correct the ubiquitous misuse of it's (See item 4). As any good proofreader knows, since the 19th century, it's is a shortening of it is. The possessive of it is its. Thus the truck would schedule its own maintenance. A small point but it's the b??te noire of publishing.

ScarF
ScarF

Gartner will become even less relevant in predicting the IT's future.

cbci
cbci

and, I think I may have said too much.

cbci
cbci

Simple fact is tablets are for consumption and augmentation because, in our current form, we need a keyboard. Ergonomically speaking, we will need to retool the human body's standard i/o, especially eyes and upper torso, before tablets will ever replace the interface we have built over the last seven decades. This is also a part of what will keep laptops and tablets stumbling over each other for the next few years. Once you connect a keyboard to a tablet you have a laptop - a more expensive laptop.(The Kindle Fire may change this). However, although a laptop is a more conveniently mobile monitor and keyboard, if you are more than 3 feet tall, a tablet-keyboard combo allows you to put the monitor at the correct viewing angle - and height - while setting the keyboard in the proper typing position. Lastly, as far as computing power, market-savvy manufacturers are going to make certain any new form of silica and copper is going to augment a desktop PC as much as, if not more so, than any tablet or laptop.

Charles Bundy
Charles Bundy

Should be #1 in my book. And in terms of research I agree with viveka that much of this is non predictive. However with regards to localization my crystal ball says we will move from GPS (wide area localization services/which network am I on) to some finer grain of localization (e.g. which room am I in and automatically print to the printer in that room/office.)

wdvs88
wdvs88

I don't know about everyone, but that Blackberry outage rained on the Cloud parade here. E-mail outages are one thing, an ERP outage lasting several days is almost crippling.

viveka
viveka

If Gartner came up with a direction, they are doing their job. Half of this is old news.. My metric? Look for job placement adds and thay all need folks with at least 3+ years of experience in all these technologies! Now, if they came up with things like "privacy be damned" or security will be less important, or patenting lawas will effect something, and explain their reasoning, then they are of some value.

xangpow
xangpow

While they are all rather interesting, one thing that did concern me was "Internet of things" I don???t like the idea of having cars or truck sending themselves to do regular maintenance. It is like this, you are the foreman of some company and when you get to work you find out that 3 trucks are missing. Automatically you think the worse and assume they have been stolen. Then later you find out that they were not stolen but had themselves sent for maintenance. Now you are looking like an idiot. What I would rather have is a system that reminds me that truck???s 1, 2, 3 need to go in for maintenance. The closer to the time it gets the more frequent the "update" gets reminded until you finally breakdown and send the vehicles to maintenance. Another thing I thought rather odd was extreme low-energy servers. It???s says "These systems will remove virtualization and lessen the shared use of systems." Yet, wasn???t the idea of virtualization also so you didn???t have to visit a thousand different servers? Yes, you are saving the company money energy-wise. But when you have to hire another person to maintain the servers, doesn???t that "savings" go to that extra person? On the plus side, (and a bit humorous) it might get rid of the idea of a fat IT guy with all that running around. lol

spage
spage

Here's a trend that's losing ground...proofreading your tech article before you post it. Great topic, but I was distracted by the frequent grammatical, syntactical, and spelling errors in this article.

kinshuk_in
kinshuk_in

Tablets plugged into the desktop socket ? Just how would tablets and apps operate unless the apps are hosted (and if hosted, and with cloud vendors offering support, scale and security, why would each enterprise become a hosting provider ?). It is probably realistic to have the "cloud" item after all the rest for 2012 - but not later than that.

tommy
tommy

1) So, flavour of the moment is Tablet Computing. In terms of Human Experience, I'm 100% sure that things will be found for tablets to do. In terms of interface, an intuitive, touch based system is sexy beyond measure. A strategic business tool, for most companies, it is not. Yet. With the next generation of broadband communications it will be more so, but we're a few years away from truly ubiquitous mobile platforms yet. 5) At a consumer level, I've no doubt that App based computing use will sky rocket. With major manufacturers embedding App based technologies in to their products, we'll start seeing iOS/Android and probably other O/S's in the future as platforms. In the business market, users use bespoke software for specific tasks, or universal applications like Office to perform business functions. The idea that an IT Department will start offering a Marketplace to it's user base so they can pick and choose which App's hey use to perform the task at hand sounds pretty far fetched to me. 10) It's no surprise to me that cloud computing is knocked down the chart. In a number of environments I've come across, cloud computing is a godsend, and doing business any other way would be much more difficult. For the majority of businesses, the idea of shipping mission critical corporate data in to the hands of third parties is simply not a realistic proposition, no matter how hard evangelical sales and marketing types push it.

SpiritualMadMan
SpiritualMadMan

I have always looked askance at Net based Apps and the Cloud has been one of the areas I have been most skeptical of for two reasons... Security Threats and Connectivity Issues. Also, your App Host can change their mind at any time leaving you without either your productivity apps or access to your data... There is no safe computing environment than a stand-alone self suficient system...

Papa_Bill
Papa_Bill

I'm a bit of a grammar nut myself, but the grammar - checkers I have used need a lot of improvement. Spell check works pretty well, but still won't catch homographs. Nothing beats at least a quick review of your text to insure readability, although in this type of forum a full and complete proofreading might not be entirely necessary.

Slayer_
Slayer_

Why not spend your time reading a news paper and finding the grammatical errors, maybe they will care more...

Bomber1JZ
Bomber1JZ

Should it not be "the 'bete' noire of publishing"? I enjoyed the article and comments, and would prefer not to nit-pick over such minor details...

Formotus Glen
Formotus Glen

I hear this everywhere and I just don't agree. Tablets are excellent devices for data collection too. And by data I don't mean primarily keyboard input, I mean photos and signatures and diagrams and GPS locations and barcodes, accompanied by well defined multiple choice selections made using checkboxes and dropdown lists and date pickers and, yes, usually some keyboard input too. The assumption cbci is making about ergonomics does not hold true for many mobile field workers. If you are going to walk a mile and stop ten times to record inspection findings while standing up, you want the lightest device you can carry with a big enough interface to do the job easily without a table or a chair. I think that's why companies doing inspections and dispatch and delivery and and service calls are flocking to tablet solutions. Read about how our customers are using tablets here: http://www.formotus.com/products-mobile-business-forms/android-ipad-business-scenarios/

saberrattler
saberrattler

The problem with the truck analogy is that you left out a criticial component. Any system where trucks automatically send themselves in for maintenance will have that covered. All you'll have to do is check your iPad, or Tablet, or whatever other technology is in vogue at that moment and discover that you have three messages waiting. They were automatically sent from trucks 1, 2, and 3 informing you that they are in for maintenance. Problem solved.

Papa_Bill
Papa_Bill

And TR is broke. Half the time I try to mark a comment up, it will appear to go through, but comes back same as it went in. Also, many times the +/- is grayed out so I can't do anything. What gives, TR?

stoneyh
stoneyh

While there will be a large growth of tablet appropriate application (notice I use APPLICATION and not apps here) for basic input, onscreen processing and consuming information, tablets are still a long ways from being an everyday platform for creating large amounts of work. Even as a Citrix/RDP client iPad for instance is poor subsitute for a Laptop or desktop computer. As for the cloud, it is being shown that fewer organizations and even individuals are willing to place all of thier data in the purview of a faceless corporation that will bill them ad infinitum like the water company for access to their own data. The private cloud model will certainly have traction (and should) but if people are smart the companies like Microsoft and others will be forced to continue creating real server and application products and earn our money through innovation instead of collecting a monthly ransom just for access to OUR data.

cbci
cbci

I could see this really taking off just as soon as all the MSPs are bought up by, and become a division of, the local ISP(s). The only problem is that in this enterprise marketplace the only available app is MS Office. Now I'm sad.

stoneyh
stoneyh

Wanted to more than "plus one" this comment. Well articulated and spot on the money.

Papa_Bill
Papa_Bill

...Every cloud has a silver lining? That's the margin for cloud system investors. The rain is for the subscribers.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

If you think of cloud as simply a clustered setup, there are some implementations that can be trusted. Self Hosted - run the cluster out of your own data centre. Your users get cloud benefits from any connected device while you get centralized management and control of the system. Securely Implemented - not everyone implements there hosted service like Google with user data wide open on the service provider's hardware. Look for services like Jungle Disk that do client side encryption so all the service provider ever works with is the encrypted blob. (note; if they can't recover your data if you loose your password then they probably have it setup better than most.)

dhohls
dhohls

Re: "no safe computing environment than a stand-alone self suficient system". Security is an issue running across almost all of these trends; the world is getting more connected (not less) and - unless you're a Top Secret Installation - stand-alone systems are less and less common.

cbci
cbci

We work with about 200 automotive insurance adjusters split almost evenly between field adjusters and office based estimators. One would think this would be a perfect opportunity for tablets - tap on a graphic and build an estimate. Well, as it turns out, in order to write an accurate estimate for any domestic or foreign car manufactured over the last 30 years, the application must access a huge amount of data - both graphic and text. And, it is dynamic data, there are typically 10,000-30,000 price parts changes applied to this data daily. The most widely used industry applications are mouse based and 'point and click' from graphics - one is even IE based. Even at that, none will run on the currently available tablets. Next time you see one of those State Farm, Progressive, Geico, etc. adjusters ask him/her about their tablet - it's typically a tough little laptop. As far as the office based adjusters, we have set up Ipads with vnc over wireless for most and here's what happens. If the vehicle is drivable, the estimator usually goes over the damage at the vehicle with the driver. He/she takes a few pictures with a small 4 to 12+ megapixel camera and takes the client back into the office to quickly (i.e. with mouse and keyboard), write the estimate. If the vehicle was dropped in the back lot by a tow truck, the estimator will be spending much more time recording "inspection findings while standing up". In these situations, adjusters will invariably pick up the laptop-on-a-tripod and the camera to which they have become accustomed. The only reason they pick up the Ipad is because the laptop is in use. They have figured out that they can get out of the oppressive Texas heat faster if they don't have to 'pinch and spread' between practically every selection. I'm not saying tablets don't have a place in business, I am adjusting my clients' infrastructures almost daily for their arrival. And, personally, I love the lightweight wireless remote for keeping a mobile eye on real computers. So, let's make a trade, you don't assume I am assuming and, I won't assume you came here to advertise.

TechnoDoc
TechnoDoc

I was going to make smart comments but they are not needed due to smarter comments by Neon Samurai -- thanks! Everyone should remember that "the cloud" is basically just a program running on a server, and we all do that already and "we the people" are perfectly able to run our own clouds that will retain privacy and security. The only reason I am not doing it already it that Apple and Google and Amazon decided to run it themselves and charge to do it instead of selling a program that would do the same thing for individual users. Neon Samurai for President of free market decentralized computing "for the rest of us" !!!!

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