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Gartner reveals the top 10 technologies that need to be on your shopping list for 2012Photo: Shutterstock

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…

…from enterprise app stores.

6. Next-generation analytics

Analytics will use historical and real-time data to predict what will happen in the future rather than just discover what happened in the past. CIOs will increasingly use analytics for simulation, prediction and optimisation rather than simply garnering information.

7. Big data

Traditional data management technologies cannot cope with the increasing size, variety of formats, and speed of delivery of new data that organisations may want to collect from the internet. Companies must therefore invest in new technologies if they are to manage the volume and complexity of this unstructured data.

8. In-memory computing

Running applications in-memory can improve their speed, performance and scalability. According to Gartner, the in-memory approach will become mainstream during 2012 and 2013.

9. Extreme low-energy servers

Low-energy servers, offered mainly by new entrants into the server market, will deliver 30 times more processors for the same amount of energy. However, these servers will only be suitable for tasks that require little power such as the delivery of static objects to a website.

10. Cloud computing

With cloud a firm favourite on Gartner’s strategic lists for the past four years, the analyst believes that in 2012, companies will move from trying to understand the cloud to making decisions on implementing cloud services.

Hybrid cloud computing – the use of both private and public clouds by a business – will also be a major focus for IT departments in 2012, Gartner said.