Can’t get enough of lists? Another Top 10 was revealed during Gartner’s Symposium/ITxpo 2014 in Orlando, Fla., this time focusing on technology trends for the coming year. 

“It all starts with digital business,” said David W. Cearley, Vice President and Gartner Fellow. “Welcome to your digitized future.” In presenting the trends, Cearley noted that strategic trends are those likely to have the biggest impact in the next three years.

The 2015 trends fall into three groups:

  1. Merging the Real and Virtual World
  2. Intelligence Everywhere
  3. Emergence of the New IT Reality

Here are the Trends

Merging the Real World and Virtual World

“What has been science fiction in the past is rapidly becoming reality today,” said Cearley.

1. Computing Everywhere

With the expansion of mobile, including wearable, embedded and intelligent connected screen technology, Gartner predicts a shift from focus on devices, to meeting the needs of mobile users.

With computing all around us and embedded in everything we do, this means more attention to user experience, and finding unique ways to capture and improve customer interactions. Gartner also predicts a loss of control over end-user devices.

2. The Internet of Things

Cearley stated that new data streams and services prompted by the Internet of Things (IoT) provide the opportunity for business leaders to develop innovative business models to Manage, Monetize, Operate and Extend, and that IT leaders need to ask these key questions regarding their top assets or processes:

  • How can we manage our operations or products more effectively?
  • Where could we come up with new payment mechanisms to monetize aspects of the Internet of Things, with pay per use types of models as an example?
  • Where can we use the Internet of Things to embed technologies for remote operation and management of various assets?
  • How can we extend our existing products with the Internet of Things (IoT)?

In addition, he stated that IT managers should “embrace the maker culture” to continuously come up with new solutions to problems.

3. 3D Printing

Over the next three years, the cost of 3D printers will decrease as more cost-effective materials and processes become available. As the market grows, we’ll see new industrial uses that demonstrate the real value this technology offers.

In order to determine whether or not 3D printing is appropriate for a particular organization, Cearley encouraged IT managers to ask questions about whether or not the technology will foster innovation, cost-savings, agility, and allow them to be more responsive.

Intelligence Everywhere

4. Advanced, Pervasive and Invisible Analytics

Analytics will be a focal point in the coming year, as the volume of both internal and external data increases. Leaders need to find a way to best filter, connect and analyze that data, focusing on answers rather than the data itself. 

“Big data is not important,” said Cearley. “It’s big answers that are important.”

5. Context-Rich Systems

Systems will understand the context of user requests by knowing the user, their preferences, social connections, location and other environmental data in order to deliver services.

“Think of these as inputs into your applications,” said Cearley. 

6. Smart Machines

Self-driving trucks, proactive search tools, smart advisors and virtual customer assistants using artificial intelligence are quickly evolving, making way for a “new age of machine helpers.” 

Gartner analysts add that “The smart machine era will be the most disruptive in the history of IT.”

The New IT Reality Emerges 

7. Cloud/Client Computing

Learning Opportunities

With cloud/client computing, Cearley stated that IT must focus on the unification of cloud and mobile strategies, which can be achieved through applications designed specifically for the cloud.

“Cloud is not about migrating enterprise applications,” said Cearley. “Cloud focus needs to be on cloud-optimized and cloud-native applications.”

8. Software-Defined Applications and Infrastructure

“To get the agility we need with this increasingly complex environment, we can’t have hardcoded, predefined elements,” said Cearley. Software-defined technologies provide organizations with the flexibility necessary to succeed with digital business.

9. Web-Scale IT 

Defined as “a pattern for global-class computing that delivers the capabilities of large cloud services providers to the enterprise,” such as Facebook, Google and Amazon, web-scale IT involves not only new ways of thinking and building hardware, and dealing with web-oriented architecture, but also new models like dev-ops, which throws IT cultural issues into the mix.

10. Risk-Based Security and Self-Protection 

Wrapping up the Top 10, Cearley noted: “Risk cannot be ignored. All the roads to the digital future lead through security.”

He advised that IT leaders look beyond assuming that the perimeter will protect the company, to focusing on applications that protect themselves. “Application self-protection is the key next step in application security,” he said.

He also stated the importance of bringing together development, operations and security teams for maximum impact.

“Dev-ops is important, but dev-ops plus security is even more important.”


Title image by Sean Davis  (Flickr) via a CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 license.