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12/1/2011
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Gartner's 2012 Forecast: Cloudy, With Widespread Consumerization

IT departments will need to adapt or make a last stand in the shrinking server closet, says Gartner in its 11 predictions for the coming year.

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Come December, everyone becomes a prophet. The latest seasonal foresight comes from business research firm Gartner, which has just laid out its vision for the year ahead.

There are no big surprises, which also isn't a surprise--surprises by definition resist prediction, so best not to predict them. Yet in aggregate the firm's IT forecast paints a world that is anything but business as usual, at least in the sense of norms established during the PC revolution in the 1980s.

Daryl Plummer, managing VP and Gartner fellow, suggests that consumerization and cloud computing will weaken IT departments.

"As users take more control of the devices they will use, business managers are taking more control of the budgets IT organizations have watched shift over the last few years," he said in a statement. "As the world of IT moves forward, CIOs are finding that they must coordinate their activities in a much wider scope than they once controlled. While this might be a difficult prospect for IT departments, they must now adapt or be swept aside."

This might be translated to read, "Provide iPad support or be fired," but that's a rather crude simplification.

[ Find out what Google did in 2011. Read Google's Daring Dozen: 12 Big Bets In 2011. ]

There's also a growing emphasis on data, which has to be distributed rather than centralized, and kept secure even as there's too much of it to deal with or really understand. Gartner's takeaway seems to be that IT organizations have to become routers rather than firewalls, assisting in computational agility rather than anchoring companies in the safe confines of policy.

Gartner's specific predictions are as follows:

1. By 2015, low-cost cloud services will cannibalize up to 15% of top outsourcing players' revenue.

Gartner sees low-cost cloud services disrupting traditional IT in the same way that low-cost air carriers like Ryanair and Southwest disrupted the major commercial airlines. If that means computing will become as insufferable as modern air travel, abacuses and pneumatic tube networks may see a revival as tools for corporate computing.

2. In 2013, the investment bubble will burst for consumer social networks, and for enterprise social software companies in 2014.

Oh, please let it be sooner. Friend lists and sharing should be organizational options inside my locally run Contacts application, not outsourced services that compromise privacy and undermine honest communication by turning every message into marketing.

3. By 2016, at least 50% of enterprise email users will rely primarily on a browser, tablet, or mobile client instead of a desktop client.

Perhaps, but only if relying on a tablet or mobile device refers to reading email. Tablets and mobile devices are great tools, but if you're actually writing lengthy messages, you're going to be more productive on a traditional keyboard. The real story here is that browser-based email will take over because it's just easier when the system requirements for access translate to "any Internet-capable device with a browser" rather than a specific computer operating system and with specific installed software. Tablets and mobile devices will mostly fill in the gaps, unless the user's concept of communication doesn't extend beyond "Agreed. Sent from my iPhone."

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Bprince
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Bprince,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/7/2011 | 11:16:19 PM
re: Gartner's 2012 Forecast: Cloudy, With Widespread Consumerization
Good list. I would expect even more than 40 percent of companies to require independent security certification for cloud services in five years, and if not that some vendors will do it and offer it as proof for differentiation purposes.
Brian Prince, InformationWeek/Dark Reading Comment Moderator
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