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Tracking Technology's Future

Choosing technologies to invest in would be a lot easier with a crystal ball. Peering into the sphere you could see the products destined to fail, and those headed for success. Heck, you might even be tempted to put a few dollars down on the winner of the next Kentucky Derby, retire, and let someone else worry about the future of IT.
Choosing technologies to invest in would be a lot easier with a crystal ball. Peering into the sphere you could see the products destined to fail, and those headed for success. Heck, you might even be tempted to put a few dollars down on the winner of the next Kentucky Derby, retire, and let someone else worry about the future of IT.Unfortunately, such glass treasures only exist in fairy tales, so we often turn to those who make a living as the oracles of technology. Gartner this week spread the tarot cards and took a stab at predicting those technologies that would have the highest impact on business over the next 10 years.

Among the potentially hottest areas were social-network analysis, collective intelligence and event-driven architectures. The first referred to the gathering of information from the personal networks people form on the Web to share information, whether it's family photos, or the latest data mining trends. According to Gartner, in less than two years, these networks will prove to be extremely valuable in identifying markets and discovering people's thoughts on issues that affect your business.

Collective intelligence, on the other hand, is capable of transforming business. Rather than a technology, it's an approach to developing code and other intellectual content. Rather than have people labor in structured groups, it allows them to work with no centralized authority. While this may seem like anarchy, Gartner believes the approach, which is expected to go mainstream in five to 10 years, is more cost efficient.

Also expected to take as long as a decade to hit the mainstream is event-driven architecture, which is a form of distributed computing. EDA involves the packaging of discrete functions into modular, encapsulated, shareable components, some of which are triggered by the arrival of one or more event objects, Gartner said. EDA is currently being used in financial trading, energy trading, supply chain, customer contact center management, logistics and sensor networks, such as those based on radio-frequency identification, or RFID.

Gartner assessed the maturity, impact and adoption speed of three-dozen technologies and trends in its 2006 Emerging Technologies Hype Cycle report. Unfortunately, it doesn't include the next Kentucky Derby winner.

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