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Breaking down Gartner’s 2014 strategic tech trends

10.26.2013
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Gartner may be the biggest technology advisory service in the world but that doesn’t mean that their predictions are always on the money or as forward-looking as we’d like. Here is our take on this year’s list:

  • Mobile Device Diversity and Management

Gartner statement: “Through 2018, the growing variety of devices, computing styles, user contexts and interaction paradigms will make “everything everywhere” strategies unachievable.”

Disagree. There is a great deal of innovative thought and experimentation going on around how mobile devices are used. The cat’s out of the bag and it will be impossible to reign in what’s started. Instead of trying to execute new policies, invest in technology to make security, not user behavior, standard across any device. Policies, while important in matters of privacy and security, have never held innovation in check for very long.

  • Mobile Apps and Applications

Gartner statement: “Gartner predicts that through 2014, improved JavaScript performance will begin to push HTML5 and the browser as a mainstream enterprise application development environment.”

Maybe, maybe not. HTML5 is coming, but will 2014 be the year it dominates? Watch major web players like Facebook to see when they go all in for mobile apps (Facebook tried once and reversed course). There’s no doubt applications will depend more heavily on API’s than ever before, making it possible to build composite applications that have most if not all of their functionality coming through external sources.

  • The Internet of Everything

Gartner: “The Internet is expanding beyond PCs and mobile devices into enterprise assets such as field equipment, and consumer items such as cars and televisions. The problem is that most enterprises and technology vendors have yet to explore the possibilities of an expanded internet and are not operationally or organizationally ready.”

Agree. There is an enormous gap forming around the digitization and connection of everything. Part of this is what Alistair Croll refers to as, “…prisoners of the status quo.” Some of this is caused by technology moving far faster than IT departments can react and some by a naïveté about how important this is. Gartner talks about four usage models — “Manage; Monetize; Operate; Extend.” If you’re not starting down that path, it will soon be too late.

  • Hybrid Cloud and IT as Service Broker

Gartner: “Bringing together personal clouds and external private cloud services is an imperative. Enterprises should design private cloud services with a hybrid future in mind and make sure future integration/interoperability is possible.”

Agree, but they missed something. The early hybrid cloud services are here and being used in more advanced enterprises, giving some a head start. The biggest challenge of cloud computing is not security or connectivity, but integration. Cloud applications are being implemented faster than the integration strategies they’ll require, and this will create headaches for many in the future.

  • Cloud/Client Architecture

Gartner: “Cloud/client computing models are shifting. In the cloud/client architecture, the client is a rich application running on an Internet-connected device, and the server is a set of application services hosted in an increasingly elastically scalable cloud computing platform.” With the caution, “However, the increasingly complex demands of mobile users will drive apps to demand increasing amounts of server-side computing and storage capacity.”

Agree. The challenges of mobility could be solved by complex apps in people’s pockets, but that will take an even greater level of sophistication at ‘the edge’. It will be solved in the near term on a tightly integrated back end that will be cloud and on-premise, requiring the integration mentioned in the previous point.

  • The Era of Personal Cloud

Gartner: “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, although the devices will still be necessary.”

Agree. This one was pretty easy to predict. It’s already here.

  • Software Defined Anything

Gartner: “Software-defined anything (SDx) is a collective term that encapsulates the growing market momentum for improved standards for infrastructure programmability and data center interoperability driven by automation inherent to cloud computing, DevOps and fast infrastructure provisioning.”

Agree. Neutrality in the face of increasingly complex architecture is going to matter more than ever.

  • Web-Scale IT

Gartner: “Web-scale IT is a pattern of global-class computing that delivers the capabilities of large cloud service providers within an enterprise IT setting by rethinking positions across several dimensions. Large cloud services providers such as Amazon, Google, Facebook, etc., are re-inventing the way IT in which IT services can be delivered.”

Agree. The need to build for web-scale is a different mindset than the past. Flexibility and durability suddenly become key when you don’t ‘own’ the network.

  • Smart Machines

Gartner: “Through 2020, the smart machine era will blossom with a proliferation of contextually aware, intelligent personal assistants, smart advisors (such as IBM Watson), advanced global industrial systems and public availability of early examples of autonomous vehicles. The smart machine era will be the most disruptive in the history of IT.”

Wait a minute. Weren’t we talking about 2014 strategic tech trends? Who turned the channel to SciFi?

  • 3-D Printing

Gartner: “Worldwide shipments of 3D printers are expected to grow 75 percent in 2014 followed by a near doubling of unit shipments in 2015.”

Sort of. We’re as excited as anyone about the arrival of 3D printing, but it still is in its infancy and 2014 won’t be a breakout year. Watch for 3D printers to get better at scaling production and for the cost to continue to fall before it takes off.

Our own list

If we were to take their ten and distill down to our own small set of predictions, it would look like this:

  • API management and mobile – Composite applications delivered over mobile channels are the future. It will take enormous amounts of integration, API management, and in-memory computing to serve the needs of most companies.
  • In-memory computing and mobile – Traditional databases are slow and are quickly becoming the place for systems of record, if that. In-memory computing is hitting its stride as enterprises see in-memory as the way to hold and correlate enormous amounts of data that impacts how, when and why decisions are made.
  • Cloud computing and integration – Enterprises have been like a teen drunk at a party when it comes to cloud computing. They’ve implemented enterprise-scale SaaS applications without thinking through the ramifications of creating new silos in the cloud. This will put some drag on cloud enthusiasm unless the data siloing is addressed in the near term.
  • Analytics – Analytics are hotter than hot. We talk about Big Data, but Big Data is like oil…it doesn’t do much until it gets refined and can be fed into a system that helps the enterprise to understand what’s happening and to get ahead of what’s going to happen next. Prediction is the new black.
Published at DZone with permission of Christopher Taylor, author and DZone MVB.

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