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Eric  Lundquist
Eric Lundquist
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Gartner's Top 10 IT Trends: Hits And Misses

We handicap Gartner's annual list of top enterprise IT trends, including mobile, cloud, and big data. Check out the ranking and consider what's missing.

Each year at the annual Gartner Symposium, Gartner analyst David Cearley names his top 10 strategic technologies for the enterprise CIOs and IT execs attending the event. This year had a couple of new entrants, including one named "integrated ecosystems" -- which seemed to me less a technology than a process, but the final list had many old names rearranged in order of priority.

I agree with him that mobile computing is the most strategic technology facing CIOs in 2013, but I think he also missed a few calls. Here is Cearley's rundown and my handicapping.

1. Mobile Devices Battle

The "mobile first and everywhere" theme has become a major part of Gartner's (and nearly every other consulting organization's) corporate mantra. The battle refers to the Apple/Google/Microsoft dustup of smartphones, tablets, and most recently convertible laptops. You should also throw Amazon in the mix, especially if they figure out how to tie the Kindle more tightly to customers signing up for Amazon Web Services.

The most interesting thing about the battle as I see is, while the fight is taking place outside the corporate confines, the selections will be part of the corporate infrastructure. The BYOD movement is fully upon the corporate world, with customers deciding what they want and expecting IT to make it work securely. The evolution of the BYOD movement with corporate mobile management and the restructuring of IT organizations to be mobile first is, I think, the most interesting part of the mobile battle.

2. Mobile Applications And HTML5

Is it odd that a revision of the markup language (still not approved and turned into what some call a living standard) is high up on the top tech list? Probably not, but the disruption inherent in HTML5 has been ongoing for a number of years. The "should we develop apps or Web?" argument continues in many companies.

I don't see this one ending soon. I think Gartner missed a chance to talk about responsive Web design (RWD), which addresses a lot of questions about adapting Web pages to a wide variety of devices. RWD is a disruptive tech.

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3. Personal Cloud, Not Personal Computing

This was a new one on the Gartner list. I think it belongs on the list. While a lot of time is spent figuring out how to divide business and personal operations on devices like smartphones, less time has been spent on figuring out how employees can build their own information clouds that contain their data and corporate data.

4. Internet Of Things

This one has been on the list for a couple of years and belongs there. As the Gartner analysts said at their opening keynote, it will soon be cheaper to sensor and monitor the corporation than to avoid the monitoring. In my opinion, network developers are not ready for the huge network demands that the Internet of things will create.

5. Hybrid IT And Cloud Computing

This refers to building corporate cloud infrastructures that mix inside and outside resources. Despite the hype around cloud computing, in my view, the hybrid model will be the most successful model over the next few years. There is still a lot of work that needs to be done to take the concept to a deployed reality that can be measured, monitored, and secured.

6. Strategic Big Data

Clearly, 2012 has been the year of big data. Similar to cloud computing, the hype about big data has overshadowed the process of deciding what new types of data streams a company requires, how to introduce those streams into the infrastructure, and how to measure the value of creating a big data environment.

7. Actionable Analytics

This is tied to the big data discussion but is probably more important. Turning on the big data firehose in your company won't make much sense unless you have a plan how to gather the data, analyze the data, and create actions on the data. Making the wrong decisions faster is not a plan for big data success.

8. Mainstream In-Memory Computing

At its simplest, in-memory computing can be considered a solid-state replacement for spinning disks. That would be a mistake as database structures, queries, and all the traditional pieces of the corporate business intelligence puzzle are changed by moving to the in-memory model.

This is one of those transitional points where users need to stop and rethink what they want to accomplish in their computing environment rather than simply stick with their traditional vendor now offering an in-memory appliance.

9. Integrated Ecosystems

I thought ecosystems were integrated by definition? Not in the computing world, I guess. In any case, this refers as a move back to the "best of breed" vendor and service selection, rather than marrying one vendor's stack of applications and services. Best of breed largely faltered on the difficulties of integration, and this will again be the deciding factor in whether the integrated ecosystems movement stumbles at the starting gate. This category was also new to Gartner's top 10.

10. Enterprise App Stores

This one is interesting. The app store model that has proved to be so successful in the consumer market is held up as the way corporate users should go about selecting and provisioning their corporate apps. While the concept has been around for a couple years, I've seen very few examples of the corporate app store emerging from a prototype to full-blown deployment. I think it might have something to do with the difference between app store consumer developers out trying to make money and traditional in-house app development. The enterprise app store may be one of those emerging technologies that is always emerging.


Gartner has offered a decent list, but one that I think misses a few big trends now unfolding. I'll cover that in a future column.

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