ibm_logo_2010.jpg Leaving aside the massive plug for Watson, this year’s IBM Tech Trends report shows a couple of interesting figures, not least of which is the fact that Android -- and not iOS -- looks like it will be the preferred platform for developers over the next two years.

The report, which has just been published, focuses on four areas that IBM says are, and will be, connected within the developer community until at least 2014. That is not to say that they won’t be interconnected long after that, it's just that Big Blue -- even with Watson -- isn’t willing to push it any further.

If you’ve been following us here at CMSWire, you will be more than familiar with the four areas. They are:

  • Business analytics
  • Mobile computing
  • Cloud computing
  • Social business

According to IBM, the trends are based on responses to a survey of more than 4,000 IT professionals in 25 industries across 93 countries.

Of some interest here is the fact that the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China) offered, after the United States, the most responses from a geographical perspective, and the research presents conclusions and trends from the countries with the highest number of responses.

The result is that Tech Trends 2011 presents trends from the US and BRIC, and while there are undoubtedly responses from Europe and South America outside of Brazil -- both significant markets -- it is impossible to gauge how much input they had in the research, as the results just are not presented in that fashion.

But then maybe that says more about IBM and where its focus is, rather than anything to do with a lack of willingness by other countries to participate in any kind of global fashion to these kinds of surveys.

Remember the adage: Do not put your faith in what statistics say until you have considered what they do not say.

Tech Trends 2011 Summarized

The four areas that IBM has focused on here are the areas that Big Blue says will be key to building a Smarter Planet, and correspond nicely with IBM’s own Smarter Planet initiative.

The research shows that business analytics is the most adopted technology in the group, with the least amount of resistance to their adoption, particularly as more enterprises are trying to make sense out of the blobs of Big Data that many are forced to leave undigested without these technologies.

Mobile technology is on the rise, but even with all the fuss around iPad, iPhone and iOS, IBM says that the research shows 70% of companies expecting to develop for the Android platform over the next two years, and only 49% for iOS.

Cloud computing will move beyond considerations of cost savings to infrastructure deployments and will focus more on application development in the cloud, while social business in some countries still has to surmount the security obstacle, depending on where you come from.

Specifically, then, here is what IBM has to say about each:

Business Analytics

The big drive behind the adoption of business analytics is the ongoing battle to turn vast amounts of information into actionable reports and insights. In 42% of companies, it was cited as the main “in demand” area, with software development showing the highest adoption rates (90%).

In terms of verticals, the highest level of adoption is expected to be in: education, healthcare, life sciences, aerospace and software development. In the software space, 87% of respondents cite development in Apache, Hadoop and Linux in the next two years.

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IBM: Predicted business analytics use in the coming two years

Half of the responding companies are currently not using analytics, with two-thirds of organizations saying there was less than a 50% increase in analytics work in their organization on concerns about integrating sophisticated analytics.

Mobile Computing

More organizations are building their own applications as mobile computing is now firmly rooted. Android has a large and growing installed base and is ranked by IBM as the top mobile platform over the coming two years.

Based on Java and XML, as an open source platform it has a much shorter learning curve, which has made it popular already with IT professionals. There is a geographical split here with iOS remaining popular in the US and other developed countries.

IBM_Mobile Use.jpg

IBM: Mobile computing use in coming two years

Adoption rates also vary depending on geography. While the US and Russia are focused on the development of mobile infrastructure, India and China are building applications to exploit that infrastructure.

Mobile is the second most “in demand” area of software development, with three in four of the survey respondents working in the area, and expected to grow to 85% in the coming two years. Respondents also consider enterprise and industry-specific applications to be their highest priority.

Cloud Computing

There is a growing trend in cloud computing to look at it as more than cheap infrastructure and to look at the possibility of developing applications in the cloud, many of them related to mobile development.

Currently the biggest challenge here is on integrating the cloud into application development as the reduction of operating expenses is the driver of this move.

While there is still a way to go in cloud computing, with 40% saying their company is not involved in it, over the next two years 75% expect that this will change and enterprises will take to building cloud infrastructure.

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IBM: Cloud computing drivers

Use of mobile technologies and use of cloud technologies are seen to be closely related with 51% saying that this will be part of their mobile strategy over the coming months. The top motivators for adopting cloud continue to revolve around the notion of doing more with less.

Social Business

Social business adoption varies across geographies and will continue to do so depending on how enterprises deal with security and local “acceptance."

IBM says that, for the moment, the biggest skills requirements in this space will be for those with specialties in security, access control and confidential data management, as many companies turn to social business to reap the benefits of increased efficiency and collaboration.

Intranets are being increasingly used to try out this new way of doing business and their use for this is expected to grow over the coming two years.

At the moment, the main technologies being use for social business are file sharing, blogs and forums with internal deployments being the principal focus for the moment.

Companies that have customer-facing deployments are more likely to build their own applications than turn to third-party systems such as Facebook. The reasoning behind this is that it provides a much higher level of control and the ability to better understand the people they are dealing with.

The Future?

The development of these four technologies displays a strong link between all four, and that the adoption of one of these technologies by an enterprise creates a demand for one or more of the others.

Effective social business, for example, will probably require the adoption of mobile computing, which in turn will require the deployment of cloud technologies for application development.

They are, Big Blue concludes, all related. While this is not exactly earth-shattering news, enterprises do need to realize it; it’s often hardest to see the things that are right in front of your nose.

Over the next two years, IBM sees a lot more development in all these spaces, so we can reasonably expect similar developments across IBM’s portfolio of offerings.