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.