Oct. 21, 2010 – Gartner expects even more companies to move to the cloud and adopt predictive and social analytics next year, the research company stated as it released the top 10 strategic technologies for 2011 as part of its Gartner Symposium/ITxpo.

The Connecticut-based research firm defines strategic technology as new or maturing for a wider audience and with impact to investments and potential for disruption to IT and business in the next three years, though outside analysts expressed caution on the speed and scope of the company’s annual strategic technology hot list.

For the second straight year, cloud computing topped the list. It was followed by, respectively: mobile applications and media tablets; social communication and collaboration; video; next generation analytics; social analytics; context-aware computing; storage class memory; ubiquitous computing; and fabric-based infrastructure and computers.

Reshaping the data center, virtualization for availability and green IT appeared on last year’s list but are gone from the 2011 predictions.

Gartner analysts estimate that the next three years of cloud expansion will split along lines of delivery, either through vendors offering packaged private implementations of methodologies, software and hardware, or through remote management services for clients. Large enterprises should have cloud teams in place for decision management by 2012.

Presenting on cloud computing possibilities at the symposium, Gartner vice president Dale Kutnick said he expected that all Global 2000 companies will be in the cloud to some degree by 2016. With more companies moving to the cloud, the agility and speed found by users should create new time and revenue opportunities, and overall should lead to a deeply meshed cloud network, Kutnick said.

“It does offer some tremendous alternatives and we expect everybody is going to use some cloud services, whether you know it or not,” he said.

Analytics held steady in Gartner’s expectations for next year. Predictive analytics continues to develop and move IT and business away from previous backward looking OLAP, and Gartner stated that additional development of social and next generation analytics might take some BI restructuring.

With the increasing power and use of analytics, the next generation analytics highlighted by Gartner could take some time to sink in on the everyday business level, says Steve Miller, co-founder of the Chicago-based BI firm, OpenBI.

“You’re going to have to evaluate the performance of those analytics, how it works in comparison to the old way. It is about doing some things differently and in some situations taking the human element out of it,” Miller says. “I don’t think there’s any question that companies are going in that direction with analytics.”

Analyst R “Ray” Wang with Altimeter Group says he agrees with the rankings of items like cloud computing and analytics on Gartner’s list. However, he says that in a review with his blog readers and clients, a few other technologies might be rising in prominence more quickly.

“Moving across the stack, I’d add in-memory computing and semantic Web for device-to-device communications as key technologies that are missing,” Wang says.

Baseline Consulting analyst and co-founder Jill Dyché included many of the same technology topics in her predictions of trends for 2010. She says that lists like Gartner’s can help to provide a gauge of an organization’s IT maturity, though they may also be somewhat unrealistic.

“I can’t help wondering whether this is still so much management-by-buzzword. Truth be told, the vendors are farther out in front of their customers now than they were at this time last year,” Dyché says.