information management, Gartner's Technology Vision for 2014: Social, Mobile, Cloud, Information ConvergenceWhile Hurricane Karen along the East Coast of the US may have weakened, some powerful technology forces won't let up heading into 2014.

Social. Mobile. Cloud. Information.

And they're all converging, according to Gartner.

2014 Technologies Predictions

Gartner this week released its annual top technologies and trends predictions for the coming year they say will be strategic for most organizations; analysts presented the findings during Gartner Symposium/ITxpo. These technologies, Gartner says, have the potential for significant impact on the enterprise in the next three years.

How so? They will disrupt IT or the business and require a major dollar investment.

“This does not necessarily mean adoption and investment in all of the listed technologies," Gartner's David Cearley said in a statement. "But companies should look to make deliberate decisions about them during the next two years.”

Let's take a peek at Gartner's 2014 list: 

Mobile Device Diversity and Management

Get those enterprise policies on employee-owned hardware usage beefed up, because mobile technologies will keep growing. If your policy includes only directives for employees accessing their networks through enterprise-owned and managed devices, you'll need to expand that. As Gartner advises, "Balance flexibility with confidentiality and privacy requirements."

Mobile Apps and Applications

JavaScript will move HTML5 and the browser as a mainstream enterprise application development environment. What's the message for developers? Expanded user interface models including richer voice and video.

Meanwhile, apps will grow, and applications will shrink. Snap together apps to create larger applications. You won't find one single tool that works on all types of mobile application. "The next evolution in user experience will be to leverage intent, inferred from emotion and actions, to motivate changes in end-user behavior," Gartner says.

information management, Gartner's Technology Vision for 2014: Social, Mobile, Cloud, Information Convergence

The Internet of Everything

Most enterprises and technology vendors aren't ready for this expansion. Data streams and services created by digitizing everything creates four basic usage models, Gartner says: manage, monetize, operate and extend. Organizations can apply to any of the four "internets” (people, things, information and places).  

Hybrid Cloud and IT as Service Broker

"Enterprises should design private cloud services with a hybrid future in mind and make sure future integration/interoperability is possible," Gartner says.

Enterprises that are expanding into hybrid cloud computing from private cloud services are taking on the cloud service broker (CSB) role, Gartner adds. We will be seeing more more static hybrid clouds and engineered compositions. We will also see things like private infrastructure as a service (IaaS) offerings that can leverage external service providers based on policy and utilization.

Cloud/Client Architecture

What's happening in the cloud and client environment? Some organizations are minimizing the cloud application computing and storage footprint and using the intelligence and storage of the client device. because of factors like robust capabilities in many mobile devices, the increased demand on networks, the cost of networks and the need to manage bandwidth use creates incentives.

But stay tuned, here, Gartner says: demands from 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," Gartner says. Users will still use PCs as one of many remaining devices, but not one device will be primary.

"Rather," Gartner says, "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) represents a "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," Gartner says.

Keep an eye on emerging standards and bridging capabilities to benefit portfolios, but also, as Gartner advises, challenge individual technology suppliers to demonstrate their commitment to true interoperability standards within their specific domains. Be aware that different interpretations of SDx definitions may be anything but open, Gartner says.

Web-Scale IT

With companies like Amazon, Google and Facebook, their IT 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," Gartner added, "then they need to emulate the architectures, processes and practices of these exemplary cloud providers." All these elements compose "Web-scale IT," which can change the IT value chain in a systemic fashion. In-house design of key hardware components such as servers, storage and networks will help organizations reduce cost. 

Smart Machines

By 2020, we'll see 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," Gartner says. "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." Enterprises will continue to invest in smart machines, strengthening the consumer market here, too.

3-D Printing

Worldwide shipments of 3D printers will grow 75% in 2014 followed by a near doubling of unit shipments in 2015. Organizations are now aware of the fact "3D printing is a real, viable and cost-effective means to reduce costs," Gartner said, "through improved designs, streamlined prototyping and short-run manufacturing."

How can those in the enterprise take advantage of this report? As your 2014 plans are well under way by now, it's probably best to at least consider the trends cited by Gartner here.

Remember, though, it's "prediction season" with a new year coming, so stay tuned for more analysis like this, and be sure to consider as much input as possible before you grab some material for a few slides at your next board meeting.

Check out some of our past coverage of Gartner technology predictions: 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012.

Image in opening paragraph courtesy of Digital Storm (Shutterstock).