Top ten strategic technologies & trends for 2014: Gartner

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A strategic technology is something which has a direct impact on
the organisation’s long-term plans, programs and initiatives. It may
also be considered as an existing technology that has become suitable
for a wider range of uses. It also offers opportunity for strategic
business advantage to early adopters.

Gartner defines a strategic
technology as one with the potential for significant impact on the
enterprise in the next three years. “We have identified the top 10
technologies that companies should factor into their strategic planning
processes. Companies should look to make deliberate decisions about
these technologies over the next two years,” says David Cearley.

convergence of four powerful forces: social, mobile, cloud and
information, continues to drive change and create new opportunities,
creating demand for advanced programmable infrastructure that can
execute at web-scale.

The top ten strategic technology trends for 2014 are as follows:

Mobile Device Diversity and Management:
Through 2018, the growing variety of devices, computing styles, user
contexts and interaction paradigms will make “everything everywhere”
strategies unachievable. The unexpected consequence of bring your own
device (BYOD) programs is a doubling or even tripling of the size of the
mobile workforce. This is placing tremendous strain on IT and Finance
organisations. Enterprise policies on employee-owned hardware usage need
to be thoroughly reviewed and, where necessary, updated and extended.
Most companies only have policies for employees accessing their networks
through devices that the enterprise owns and manages.

Mobile Apps and Applications:
Gartner predicts that through 2014, improved JavaScript performance
will begin to push HTML5 and the browser as a mainstream enterprise
application development environment. Developers need to focus on
creating expanded user interface models including richer voice and video
that can connect people in new and different ways. Apps will continue
to grow while applications will begin to shrink. Apps are smaller, and
more targeted, while a larger application is more comprehensive.
Devlopers should look for ways to snap together apps to create larger
applications. Building application user interfaces that span a variety
of devices require an understanding of fragmented building blocks and an
adaptable programming structure that assembles them into optimised
content for each device. The market for tools to create consumer and
enterprise facing apps is complex with well over 100 potential tools
vendors. For the next few years no single tool will be optimal for all
types of mobile application so expect to employ several. The next
evolution in user experience will be to leverage intent, inferred from
emotion and actions, to motivate changes in end-user behavior.

The ‘Internet of Everything’:
The Internet is expanding beyond PCs and mobile devices into enterprise
assets such as field equipment, and consumer items such as cars and
televisions. The problem is that most enterprises and technology vendors
have yet to explore the possibilities of an expanded internet and are
not operationally or organisationally ready. Imagine digitising the most
important products, services and assets. The combination of data
streams and services created by digitising everything creates four basic
usage models – Manage; Monetise; Operate; Extend. These four basic
models can be applied to any of the four “internets” (people, things,
information and places).  Enterprises should not limit themselves to
thinking that only the Internet of Things (i.e., assets and machines)
has the potential to leverage these four models. Enterprises from all
industries (heavy, mixed, and weightless) can leverage these four

Hybrid Cloud and IT as Service Broker: Bringing
together personal clouds and external private cloud services is an
imperative. Enterprises should design private cloud services with a
hybrid future in mind and make sure future integration/interoperability
is possible. Hybrid cloud services can be composed in many ways, varying
from relatively static to very dynamic. Managing this composition will
often be the responsibility of something filling the role of cloud
service broker (CSB), which handles aggregation, integration and
customisation of services. Enterprises that are expanding into hybrid
cloud computing from private cloud services are taking on the CSB role.
Terms like “overdrafting” and “cloudbursting” are often used to describe
what hybrid cloud computing will make possible. However, the vast
majority of hybrid cloud services will initially be much less dynamic
than that. Early hybrid cloud services will likely be more static,
engineered compositions (such as integration between an internal private
cloud and a public cloud service for certain functionality or data).
More deployment compositions will emerge as CSBs evolve.

Cloud/Client Architecture:
Cloud/client computing models are shifting. In the cloud/client
architecture, the client is a rich application running on an
Internet-connected device, and the server is a set of application
services hosted in an increasingly elastically scalable cloud computing
platform. The cloud is the control point and system or record and
applications can span multiple client devices. The client environment
may be a native application or browser-based; the increasing power of
the browser is available to many client devices, mobile and desktop
alike. Robust capabilities in many mobile devices, the increased demand
on networks, the cost of networks and the need to manage bandwidth use
creates incentives, in some cases, to minimise the cloud application
computing and storage footprint, and to exploit the intelligence and
storage of the client device. However, the increasingly complex demands
of mobile users will drive apps to demand increasing amounts of
server-side computing and storage capacity.

The Era of Personal Cloud:
The personal cloud era will mark a power shift away from devices toward
services. In this new world, the specifics of devices will become less
important for the organisation to worry about, although the devices will
still be necessary. Users will use a collection of devices, with the PC
remaining one of many options, but no one device will be the primary
hub. Rather, the personal cloud will take on that role. Access to the
cloud and the content stored or shared from the cloud will be managed
and secured, rather than solely focusing on the device itself.

Software Defined Anything:
Software-defined anything (SDx) is a collective term that encapsulates
the growing market momentum for improved standards for infrastructure
programmability and data center interoperability driven by automation
inherent to cloud computing, DevOps and fast infrastructure
provisioning. As a collective, SDx also incorporates various initiatives
like OpenStack, OpenFlow, the Open Compute Project and Open Rack, which
share similar visions. As individual SDx technology silos evolve and
consortiums arise, look for emerging standards and bridging capabilities
to benefit portfolios, but challenge individual technology suppliers to
demonstrate their commitment to true interoperability standards within
their specific domains. While openness will always be a claimed vendor
objective, different interpretations of SDx definitions may be anything
but open. Vendors of SDN (network), SDDC (data center), SDS (storage),
and SDI (infrastructure) technologies are all trying to maintain
leadership in their respective domains, while deploying SDx initiatives
to aid market adjacency plays. So vendors who dominate a sector of the
infrastructure may only reluctantly want to abide by standards that have
the potential to lower margins and open broader competitive
opportunities, even when the consumer will benefit by simplicity, cost
reduction and consolidation efficiency.

Web-Scale IT:
Web-scale IT is a pattern of global-class computing that delivers the
capabilities of large cloud service providers within an enterprise IT
setting by rethinking positions across several dimensions. Large cloud
services providers such as Amazon, Google, Facebook, etc., are
re-inventing the way IT in which IT services can be delivered.  Their
capabilities go beyond scale in terms of sheer size to also include
scale as it pertains to speed and agility. If enterprises want to keep
pace, then they need to emulate the architectures, processes and
practices of these exemplary cloud providers. Gartner calls the
combination of all of these elements Web-scale IT. Web-scale IT looks to
change the IT value chain in a systemic fashion.  Data centers are
designed with an industrial engineering perspective that looks for every
opportunity to reduce cost and waste.  This goes beyond re-designing
facilities to be more energy efficient to also include in-house design
of key hardware components such as servers, storage and networks.
Web-oriented architectures allow developers to build very flexible and
resilient systems that recover from failure more quickly.

Smart Machines:
Through 2020, the smart machine era will blossom with a proliferation
of contextually aware, intelligent personal assistants, smart advisors
(such as IBM Watson), advanced global industrial systems and public
availability of early examples of autonomous vehicles. The smart machine
era will be the most disruptive in the history of IT. New systems that
begin to fulfill some of the earliest visions for what information
technologies might accomplish — doing what we thought only people could
do and machines could not —are now finally emerging. Gartner expects
individuals will invest in, control and use their own smart machines to
become more successful. Enterprises will similarly invest in smart
machines. Consumerisation versus central control tensions will not abate
in the era of smart-machine-driven disruption. If anything, smart
machines will strengthen the forces of consumerisation after the first
surge of enterprise buying commences.

3-D Printing:
Worldwide shipments of 3D printers are expected to grow 75 percent in
2014 followed by a near doubling of unit shipments in 2015. While very
expensive “additive manufacturing” devices have been around for 20
years, the market for devices ranging from $50,000 to $500, and with
commensurate material and build capabilities, is nascent yet growing
rapidly. The consumer market hype has made organisations aware of the
fact 3D printing is a real, viable and cost-effective means to reduce
costs through improved designs, streamlined prototyping and short-run