Gartner: Top 10 strategic technology trends for 2013

From mobile device battles to enterprise app stores, the challenges in the coming year are at hand, Gartner says

ORLANDO, Fla. -- If some of the top 10 strategic technology trends going into 2013 look familiar it's because quite a few -- like cloud computing and mobile trends -- have been around for awhile but are now either morphing or changing in ways that will continue to impact IT in the next year.

That was but one of the conclusions emanating from Gartner's annual "Top 10 strategic technology trends for 2013" presentation here at the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo.

"Consumerization is backdrop of the forces of much of these changes," said Gartner's David Cearley.

MORE: Gartner: 10 critical IT trends for the next five years

From Cearley's presentation, these are the top 10 strategic tech trends for 2013:

Mobile device battles: The key here is that no one tech form factor will dominate this area. We think Microsoft will be successful here but if they fail to deliver hardware capabilities in their smartphone and tablet, if they don't fix issues when they come up, then we could see them run into some serious issues.

By 2013 mobile phones will overtake PCs as the most common Web access device worldwide. By 2015 over 80% of the handsets sold in mature markets will be smartphones, and only 20% of those handsets are likely to be Windows phones. By 2015 media tablet shipments will reach around 50% of laptop shipments and Windows 8 will likely be in third place behind Android and Apple. We believe the net result is that Microsoft's share of the client platform (PC, tablet, smartphone) will likely be reduced to 60% and it could fall below 50%. The implications for IT is that the era of PC dominance with Windows as the single platform will be replaced with a post-PC era where Windows is one of a variety of environments IT will need to support.

Consumerization will mean enterprises won't be able to force users to give up their iPads or prevent the use of Windows 8 to the extent consumers adopt consumer targeted Windows 8 devices. Enterprises will need to support a greater variety of form factors reducing the ability to standardize PC and tablet hardware. The implications for IT is that the era of PC dominance with Windows as the single platform will be replaced with a post-PC era where Windows is just one of a variety of environments IT will need to support.

Mobile apps and HTML5: How enterprise deal with multiple development technologies will be key here. For example, enterprises should plan to exploit at least three different mobile architectures for B2C and B2E applications. Six mobile architectures -- native, special, hybrid, HTML5, Message and No Client -- will remain popular. However, there will be a long-term shift away from native apps to Web apps as HTML5 becomes more capable. Nevertheless, native apps won't disappear, and will always offer the best user experiences and most sophisticated features. Developers will also need to develop new design skills to deliver touch-optimized mobile applications that operate across a range of devices in a coordinated fashion.

Personal cloud: The emerging area of what's called personal cloud will replace the personal computer era. The thing to remember here is that the world for users isn't just about businesses but increasingly it's about communities, families and activities that are more outside the professional realm than in. The personal cloud will entail the unique collection of services, Web destinations and connectivity that will become the home of their computing and communication activities. Users will see it as a portable, always-available place where they go for all their digital needs. The personal cloud shifts the focus from the client device to cloud-based services delivered across devices.

In the emerging mobile and personal cloud world end users will use many devices and platforms and IT often can't enforce strict standards. In this world no one platform, form factor, technology or vendor will dominate, and managed diversity and mobile device management will be an imperative. This increasing complexity client world makes the need for a client/cloud model an imperative. Core services are defined as highly standardized server based solutions which are delivered "as a service" to a plethora of client devices. 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 organization to worry about.

The Internet of things: The Internet of things is not a future item but one that has been changing rapidly. Key elements of this trend are the number of technologies that are being embedded in a variety of mobile devices include sensors, image recognition technologies and NFC payment. As a result, mobile no longer refers only to use of cellular handsets or tablets. Cellular technology is being embedded in many new types of devices including pharmaceutical containers and automobiles. Smartphones and other intelligent devices don't just use the cellular network, they communicate via NFC, Bluetooth, LTE and Wi-Fi to a wide range of devices and peripherals, such as wristwatch displays, healthcare sensors, smart posters and home entertainment systems. The trend will enable a wide range of new applications and services while raising many new challenges. For example, objects will increasingly act as "users" of other systems. Imagine a scenario where a warehouse robot interfaces with the ERP system for self-replenishment or a truck schedules its own maintenance. IT will increasingly have to consider how these scenarios impact issues such as software licensing.

Hybrid IT and cloud computing: Hybrid IT and cloud computing we have been talking about in one way or another for about four years, but we continue to see evolution that makes it ever more important for enterprise to develop a strategic approach to it. A recently conducted Gartner IT services survey revealed that the internal cloud services brokerage (CSB) role is emerging as IT organizations realize that they have a responsibility to help improve the provisioning and consumption of inherently distributed, heterogeneous and often complex cloud services for their internal users and external business partners. The internal CSB role represents a means for the IT organization to retain and build influence inside its organization and to become a value center in the face of challenging new requirements relative to increasing adoption of cloud as an approach to IT consumption.

Strategic big data: The concept of a single enterprise data warehouse containing all information needed for decisions is dead. Multiple systems, including content management, data warehouses, data marts and specialized file systems tied together with data services and metadata, will become the "logical" enterprise data warehouse. The key thing here is companies moving beyond single, big data projects. Dealing with data volume, variety, velocity and complexity is forcing changes to many traditional approaches. This realization is leading organizations to abandon the concept of a single enterprise data warehouse containing all information needed for decisions. Instead they are moving toward multiple systems, including content management, data warehouses, data marts and specialized file systems tied together with data services and metadata, which will become the "logical" enterprise data warehouse.

Actionable analytics: We have reached the point in the improvement of performance and costs that we can afford to perform analytics and simulation for each and every action taken in the business. Not only will data center systems be able to do this, but mobile devices will have access to data and enough capability to perform analytics themselves, potentially enabling use of optimization and simulation everywhere and every time. Fixed rules and prepared policies gave way to more informed decisions powered by the right information delivered at the right time, whether through CRM or ERP or other applications. The new step is to provide simulation, prediction, optimization and other analytics, not simply information, to empower even more decision flexibility at the time and place of every business process action.

Think of the additional value if we could look at an action as it is taking place, predict the results, spot the fraud that will ensue and be able to stop it before it materializes. What if we could predict the likely sales in a store from remaining inventory for various possible purchases at this moment, and offer inducements to a customer to pick the product right now that maximizes likely total revenue for the remainder of the day?

Advanced analytics also involves new technologies to search unstructured content and other search enhancements.

Mainstream in-memory computing: The execution of certain-types of hours-long batch processes can be squeezed into minutes or even seconds allowing these processes to be provided in the form of real-time or near real-time services that can be delivered to internal or external users in the form of cloud services. Millions of events can be scanned in a matter of a few tens of millisecond to detect correlations and patterns pointing at emerging opportunities and threats "as things happen." The possibility of concurrently running transactional and analytical applications against the same dataset opens unexplored possibilities for business innovation. Numerous vendors will deliver in-memory-based solutions over the next two years driving this approach into mainstream use.

Although adoption of in-memory application infrastructure technologies is, in many cases, far from trivial, products in the market are sufficiently mature and reasonably affordable as to enable a large number of user organizations to take advantage of these opportunities. Vendors such as SAP will accelerate delivery of applications in leveraging in-memory technologies.

Integrated ecosystems: The market is undergoing a shift to more integrated systems and ecosystems and away from loosely coupled heterogeneous approaches. We expect to see a number of vendors, like HP and IBM battle over ecosystems. Driving this trend is the user desire for lower cost, simplicity, and more assured security. Driving the trend for vendors the ability to have more control of the solution stack and obtain greater margin in the sale as well as offer a complete solution stack in a controlled environment, but without the need to provide any actual hardware. The trend is manifested in three levels. Appliances combine hardware and software and software and services are packaged to address and infrastructure or application workload. Cloud-based marketplaces and brokerages facilitate purchase, consumption and/or use of capabilities from multiple vendors and may provide a foundation for ISV development and application runtime. In the mobile world, vendors including Apple, Google and Microsoft drive varying degrees of control across and end-to-end ecosystem extending the client through the apps.

Enterprise app stores: By 2014, there will be more than 70 billion mobile application downloads from app stores every year. By 2014, at least half of the tools optimized for app store application development in 2010 will have been acquired or will have ceased to exist. By 2014, most organizations will deliver mobile applications to workers through private application stores. With enterprise app stores the role of IT shifts from that of a centralized planner to a market manager providing governance and brokerage services to users and potentially an ecosystem to support "apptrepreneurs." We're not going to put IT genies back in bottle and have IT become department of "no." IT needs to see what's out there and how they can use an app that works well and creates a positive experience for users.

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Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.