Gartner has highlighted the top 10 technology trends set to be strategic for most organisations through 2015. Analysts presented their findings during the Gartner Symposium/ITexpo.
They have defined a strategic technology trend as something with the potential for significant impact in the next 3 years. Factors that were deemed to denote significant impact included:
- High potential for disruption
- Need for major investment
- Risk of being too late to adopt
- Changes to long-term plans, programs and initiatives
David Cearley, Vice President and Gartner Fellow stated:
“We have identified the top 10 technology trends that organisations cannot afford to ignore in their strategic planning processes. This does not necessarily mean adoption and investment in all of the trends at the same rate, but companies should look to make deliberate decisions about them during the next two years.”
Mr Cearley said these trends would cover 3 themes:
- The merging of the real and virtual worlds
- The advent of intelligence everywhere
- The technology impact of the digital business shift
The Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2015
As mobile devices continue to proliferate through society – now into wearable technology – Gartner predicts an increased emphasis on needing to service the needs of customers through mobile devices in ever more diverse contexts and environments.
David Cearley says:
“Phones and wearable devices are now part of an expanded computing environment that includes such things as consumer electronics and connected screens in the workplace and public space. Increasingly it is the overall environment that will need to adapt to the requirements of the mobile user. This will continue to raise significant management challenges for IT organisations as they lose control of user endpoint devices. It will also push the focus towards user experience design.”
The Internet of Things (IoT)
The combination of data streams and services created by digitising everything will create four basic usage models: Manage, Monetise, Operate and Extend. These models can be applied to any of the four internets. Enterprises must be careful not to limit themselves to thinking that only the Internet of Things (assets and machines) has the potential to leverage these four models.
Shipments of 3D printers are expected to grow 98% in 2015, followed by a doubling of shipments in 2016. 3D printing will reach a tipping point over the next 3 years as the market for low-cost devices continues to grow and industrial use expands. New industrial, bio-medical and consumer applications continue to demonstrate the viability of 3D printing to reduce costs through improved designs, streamlined prototyping and short-run manufacturing.
Advanced, Pervasive and Invisible Analytics
Analytics will take centre stage as the volume of data created by embedded systems increases and vast pools of structured and unstructured data are analysed. Big data remains an important enabler for this trend but the focus needs to shift to thinking about big questions and big answers first and big data second – the value is in the answers.
“Every app now needs to be an analytic app. Organisations need to manage how best to filter the huge amounts of data coming from the IoT, social media and wearable devices, and then deliver exactly the right information to the right person at the right time. Analytics will become deeply, but invisibly embedded everywhere.”
Embedded intelligence and pervasive analytics will drive the development of systems that are alert to their surroundings and can respond appropriately. By understanding the context of a user request, applications can adjust their security and adjust how information is delivered to the user, simplifying an increasingly complex computing world.
Analytics applied to an understanding of context provide the conditions for a world of smart machines. According to Gartner, this foundation combines with advanced algorithms that allow systems to understand their environment, learn for themselves and act autonomously. Prototype autonomous vehicles, advanced robots, virtual personal assistants and smart advisors already exist and will no doubt evolve rapidly. The smart machine era will be the most disruptive in the history of IT.
The convergence of cloud and mobile computing will continue to promote the growth of centrally coordinated applications that can be delivered to any device.
Mr Cearley states:
"Cloud is the new style of elastically scalable, self-service computing, and both internal applications and external applications will be built on this new style. While network and bandwidth costs may continue to favour apps that use the intelligence and storage of the client device effectively, coordination and management will be based in the cloud."
In the near term, the focus for cloud/client will be on synchronizing content and application state across multiple devices and addressing application portability across devices. Over time, applications will evolve to support simultaneous use of multiple devices. The second-screen phenomenon today focuses on coordinating television viewing with use of a mobile device. In the future, games and enterprise applications alike will use multiple screens and exploit wearables and other devices to deliver an enhanced experience.
Software-Defined Applications and Infrastructure
Agile programming of everything from applications to basic infrastructure is essential to enable organisations to deliver the flexibility required to make the digital business work. Software-defined networking, storage, data centres and security are maturing. Cloud services are software-configurable through API calls, and applications, too, increasingly have rich APIs to access their function and content programmatically. To deal with the rapidly changing demands of digital business and scale systems up — or down — rapidly, computing has to move away from static to dynamic models. Rules, models and code that can dynamically assemble and configure all of the elements needed from the network through the application are needed.
This is an IT pattern of global-class computing delivering capabilities of large cloud service providers within an enterprise IT setting. More organisations will being thinking, acting and building applications and infrastructure like web giants such as Amazon, Google and Facebook. Web-scale IT does not happen immediately but evolve over time as commercial hardware and platforms embrace the new models and cloud-optimised software defined approaches of the mainstream.
The first step towards this should be DevOps – bringing development and operations together in a coordinated way to drive rapid, continuous incremental development of applications and services.
10. Risk-Based Security and Self-Protection
All roads to the digital future lead through security. In a digital business world it is important that security doesn’t become a roadblock that stops all progress. Organisations will increasingly recognise it is not possible to provide a 100% secure environment and then begin to apply more sophisticated risk assessment and mitigation tools.
Recognition that the perimeter defence is inadequate and applications need to be more active in security will give rise to a new multifaceted approach. Security-aware application design, dynamic and static application security testing and runtime application self-protection combined with active context-aware and adaptive access controls will all be needed in today’s dangerous digital world. This will lead to new models of building security directly into applications.
Firewalls and perimeters will no longer be enough; every app needs to be self-aware and self-protecting.