Slideshow Gartner’s Top 10 Strategic Tech Trends for 2015

  • October 16 2014, 5:00am EDT
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Gartner defines a strategic technology trend as one with the potential for significant impact on the organization in the next three years. Factors that denote significant impact include a high potential for disruption to the business, end users or IT, the need for a major investment, or the risk of being late to adopt. The top trends for 2015 cover three themes: the merging of the real and virtual worlds, the advent of intelligence everywhere, and the technology impact of the digital business shift. Photo: iStock

Computing Everywhere

As mobile devices proliferate, Gartner predicts an increased emphasis on serving the needs of the mobile user in diverse contexts and environments, as opposed to focusing on devices alone. David Cearley, vice president and Gartner Fellow, explains that phones and wearable devices are part of an expanded computing environment. "Increasingly, it's the overall environment that will need to adapt to the requirements of the mobile user. This will continue to raise significant management challenges for IT organizations as they lose control of user endpoint devices. It will also require increased attention to user experience design." Photo: iStock

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The Internet of Things

Gartner states that the combination of data streams and services created by digitizing everything creates four basic usage models: manage, monetize, operate and extend. Enterprises should not limit themselves to thinking that only the Internet of Things (assets and machines) has the potential to leverage these four models. For example, the pay-per-use model can be applied to assets such as industrial equipment, services such as pay-as-you-drive insurance, people such as movers, places such as parking spots and systems such as cloud services. Enterprises from all industries can leverage these four models. Photo: iStock

3-D Printing

Gartner states that 3-D printing will reach a tipping point over the next three years as the market for relatively low-cost 3-D printing devices continues to grow and industrial use expands significantly. New industrial, biomedical and consumer applications will continue to demonstrate that 3-D printing is a viable and cost-effective means to reduce costs through improved designs, streamlined prototyping and short-run manufacturing. Photo: iStock

Advanced, Pervasive and Invisible Analytics

Analytics will take center stage as the volume of data generated by embedded systems increases and vast pools of structured and unstructured data within and outside the enterprise are analyzed. "Every app now needs to be an analytic app," says Gartner’s Cearley. "Organizations need to manage how best to filter the huge amounts of data coming from the IoT, social media and wearable devices, and then deliver exactly the right information to the right person, at the right time. Analytics will become deeply, but invisibly embedded everywhere." Big data remains an important enabler for this trend, but Gartner says the focus needs to shift to thinking about big questions and answers first and big data second — the value is in the answers, not the data. Photo: iStock

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Context-Rich Systems

Ubiquitous embedded intelligence combined with pervasive analytics will drive the development of systems that are alert to their surroundings and able to respond appropriately, according. Gartner highlights the example of context-aware security as an early application of this capability. By understanding the context of a user request, applications can not only adjust their security response but also adjust how information is delivered to the user, simplifying an increasingly complex computing world. Photo: iStock

Smart Machines

Deep analytics applied to an understanding of context provides the preconditions for a world of smart machines. This combines with advanced algorithms that allow systems to understand their environment, learn for themselves, and act autonomously. Prototype autonomous vehicles, advanced robots, virtual personal assistants and smart advisors already exist and will evolve rapidly, ushering in a new age of machine helpers. Gartner believes that the smart machine era will be the most disruptive in the history of IT. Photo: iStock

Cloud/Client Computing

The convergence of cloud and mobile computing will continue to promote the growth of centrally coordinated applications that can be delivered to any device. "Cloud is the new style of elastically scalable, self-service computing, and both internal applications and external applications will be built on this new style," says Cearley. In the near term, the focus for cloud/client will be on synchronizing content and application state across multiple devices and addressing application portability across devices. Over time, applications will evolve to support simultaneous use of multiple devices. Photo: iStock

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Software-Defined Applications and Infrastructure

Agile programming of everything from applications to basic infrastructure is essential to enable organizations to deliver the flexibility required to make the digital business work. Software-defined networking, storage, data centers and security are maturing. Cloud services are software-configurable through API calls, and applications, too, increasingly have rich APIs to access their function and content programmatically. To deal with the rapidly changing demands of digital business and rapidly scale systems up or down, computing has to move away from static to dynamic models, according to Gartner. Rules, models and code that can dynamically assemble and configure all of the elements needed from the network through the application are needed. Photo: iStock

Web-Scale IT

Web-scale IT is a pattern of global-class computing that delivers the capabilities of large cloud service providers within an enterprise IT setting. Gartner predicts that more organizations will begin thinking, acting and building applications and infrastructure like Web giants such as Amazon, Google and Facebook. Web-scale IT does not happen immediately, but will evolve over time as commercial hardware platforms embrace the new models and cloud-optimized and software-defined approaches reach mainstream. The first step toward the Web-scale IT future for many organizations should be DevOps — bringing development and operations together in a coordinated way to drive rapid, continuous incremental development of applications and services. Photo: iStock

Risk-Based Security and Self-Protection

Gartner states that all roads to the digital future lead through security. However, in a digital business world, security cannot be a roadblock that stops all progress. Organizations will increasingly recognize that it is not possible to provide a 100 percent secured environment. Once organizations acknowledge that, they can begin to apply more-sophisticated risk assessment and mitigation tools. This will lead to new models of building security directly into applications. Perimeters and firewalls are no longer enough; every app needs to be self-aware and self-protecting. Photo: iStock