Gartner_The Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2014

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Gartner_The Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2014


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    The Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for2014Published: 19 February 2014

    Analyst(s): David W. Cearley

    Gartner has compiled its annual list of the top 10 strategic technologytrends that have the potential to disrupt individuals, businesses and ITorganizations. This year's list highlights the disruptive impact of the Nexus ofForces: mobile, social, cloud and information.


    The Effects of Mobile and Cloud Dominate Our Top 10

    We looked at the technology trends that will have the biggest potential for significant and disruptiveenterprise impact over the next three years, and identified the following top 10 trends:

    1. Mobile device diversity and management

    2. Mobile apps and applications

    3. The Internet of Everything

    4. Hybrid cloud and IT as service broker

    5. Cloud/client

    6. The era of personal cloud

    7. Software-defined anything

    8. Web-scale IT

    9. Smart machines

    10. 3D printing

    Factors that denote significant impact include:

    High demand for a particular technology by end users or business leaders

    The potential for disruption to IT or the business

  • The need for major investment

    The risk of being late to adopt

    Changes in the trajectory of a trend and/or it reaching a tipping point (for example, capability,pricing)

    In some cases, the impact of the trend will be the need to radically change use of existing (or adoptnew) technologies, IT processes or business processes, resulting in significant cost and disruption.We biased the selection of trends for our list toward trends that are highly disruptive. The focus ison trends where an acceleration, shift or tipping point is occurring or is likely to occur during thenext two years that will make the technology newly strategic or applicable to a wider market.

    Many specific technologies may be associated with a particular strategic technology trend. Thesemay be technologies that have matured and/or become suitable for a wider range of uses. In thecase of these mainstream technologies, the strategic decision is likely to revolve around product/vendor selection and the degree to which enterprises incorporate them into the broad ITenvironment.

    A technology may also be an emerging one that offers an opportunity for strategic businesscompetitive advantage for early adopters, or has the potential for significant market disruptionduring the next three years. For emerging technologies, the strategic decision may be to requestfunding for evaluation.

    We selected these trends because they have broad impact across a wide range of industries andcompanies. However, individual companies should use the list, and lists from previous years, as astarting point to create their own customized lists. Adjustments based on industry, unique businessneeds, technology adoption models (for example, early adopter, mainstream or risk-averse) andother factors could change the emphasis or, in some cases, add or remove trends.

    Factor these technologies into your strategic planning processes by explicitly evaluating thepotential business impact and making deliberate decisions about them during the next two years.Sometimes, the decision will be to do nothing with a particular technology, which is perfectly OK. Inother cases, it will be to continue investing in the technology at the current rate. In still other cases,you may decide to test, pilot or more aggressively adopt and deploy specific technologies related toone or more of the trends. Gartner recommends that IT organizations, particularly in rapidlychanging industries, formalize the technology research function to track emerging and strategictrends.

    Ultimately, the reason for examining trends such as these is to understand their potential impact onthe enterprise. CIOs and IT strategy leaders should recognize that the impact can be positive ornegative, and must examine the potential threats or risks associated with the trend. In particular,they must examine the implications of ignoring the potential impact of a trend or the potential for acompetitor to exploit a trend to change the competitive landscape.

    The Disruptive Nature of the Nexus of Forces

    The Nexus of Forces continues to drive change and create new opportunities:

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  • Mobile-centric trends and technologies increasingly define the client environment and the coreend-user app and experience. Moreover, the ongoing mobile trend has been a major diver inthe expansion of social media and the generation of new location-based and other contextualinformation.

    Cloud is becoming a mainstream computing style and delivery option with hybrid cloud, cloudbrokerage, and new delivery, management and security options accelerating adoption. Theadvent of cloud-based information sources, including social data, continues to drive big dataanalysis strategies and is a key element driving the era of smart machines.

    Cloud and mobile are two tightly linked forces, with the cloud becoming the major deliveryvehicle and "remote brain" for these devices. The forces are combining to drive new applicationarchitectures and a new user experience, including the "personal cloud."

    Information and social elements are deeply embedded into all of the strategic trends. On theinformation supply side, the Internet of Everything (IoE) drives an enormous increase ininformation available for analysis. On the information demand side, the IoE expands the targetendpoints and user scenarios, where the results of this analysis are needed. Beyond IoE, theexplosion in cloud-based information from enterprise and external sources, the need tocombine that with existing enterprise information sources and the expansion of areas wheredeep information analytics is needed (for example, Web-scale IT, software-defined anything[SDx] and smart machines) drives the need for more sophisticated and proactive informationmanagement and analytical models.

    The nexus forces create demand for advanced programmable infrastructure and services thatcan execute at Web scale, and support the personal cloud and new application models thatplace emphasis on cloud-centered design combined with rich mobile and embedded clientexperiences. Client/cloud and nexus-driven application architectures will be needed.

    Research HighlightsWe have research that delves into each technology trend and explores its impact. The following is abrief summary of each technology trend.

    Mobile Device Diversity and Management

    The influx of consumer technology into the enterprise and the attendant bring your own device(BYOD) trend have brought to light the conflict between the IT organization and the enterprise's endusers. Many of today's core IT systems, such as SAP, appear to focus on serving IT rather thanend-user interests. As a result, end users are willing to spend their own money on personalizationoptions such as using a favorite mobile phone or tablet along with personal apps that make theirwork life easier and more productive. They desire the devices and programs that they believe willbest-support their productivity, and they find ways of working around IT policy and standards.

    In "Managed Diversity Defines Best Practices for BYOD and Endpoint Management Policies," weexplain how Gartner's managed diversity model is a structured compromise that offers end-user

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  • device choice while protecting enterprise assets and supporting end-user productivity. IT leaderscan apply the managed diversity model to all "smart" endpoint device types, including mobilephones, smart desk phones, PCs, notebooks and tablets.

    Beyond the traditional mobile and PC space, companies such as Google and Samsung arepioneering wearable devices in the form of eyeglasses and wrist-based devices. This expansion ofclient endpoints will drive further diversity. We explore this growing market segment in "ODMs andEMS Companies Are Ready to Capture Their Share of the Future Wearable Device Market."

    Mobile Apps and Applications

    Mobile commerce has gained so much attention that some companies, like Starbucks andWalgreens, are referencing their mobile strategies in their annual reports as a means of achievingbusiness objectives and driving competitive advantage. These companies are being innovative withtheir approaches and, consequently, are finding financial success from their investments. However,if customers do not adopt the mobile commerce apps, then the benefits will not be forthcoming. Aswe highlight in "Use Mobile Apps to Provide Customer Value, and Revenue Will Follow," providing avaluable customer experience will increase mobile commerce app adoption, drive usage, andincrease both loyalty and revenue. IT and business leaders supporting e-commerce shouldincorporate the five attributes of successful mobile apps, as this will improve the customerexperience.

    However, building a better user experience to address the expanding mobile world goes beyond e-commerce. In "How to Structure the Organization to Build Better User Experiences," we explorewhat changes in organizational structure, culture and responsibilities are required to address thenew mobile-centric app world.

    And in "How Apps Will Impact the Management of Application Development," we highlight howapps as an emerging software construct that ties value to purposefulness will have dramatic impactfor enterprise IT application leaders in relation to design strategies, software life cycle managementand funding arrangements.

    The Internet of Everything

    Computing endpoints extend well beyond the mobile world to include the Internet of Things. TheInternet (or more simply, the Web) plays an increasingly central role in the modern world, not only atthe level of infrastructure but also in culture, society and business. The Internet of Things extendsthat role to encompass an increasingly diverse range of devices and communications streams,many of which will be essentially machine-to-machine communications, rather than involving aperson at either endpoint.

    The Internet of Things will be big, but just how big depends on exactly what is included. "ThePotential Size and Diversity of the Internet of Things Mask Immediate Opportunities for IT Leaders"will help business and IT leaders understand this emergent technology and applications. It alsodescribes how IT leaders can identify significant new opportunities for their organization. "Forecast:The Internet of Things, Worldwide, 2013" lays our Gartner's projections for a $300 billion market forInternet of Things products and services by 2020.

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  • Hybrid Cloud and IT as Service Broker

    Parts of even the most strategic and risky business processes are increasingly likely to rely on SaaSand business process as a service (BPaaS). Business process owners, line of business (LOB)managers, application managers and senior IT managers need to use the hybrid IT model toreinvent business processes as part of their digital business strategies. On-premises developmentor deployment of all of the pieces of a reinvented process is too time-consuming and too costly toyield competitive advantage. The emergence of the IoE and the explosion of mobile devices andapps in the hands of employees, partners and customers further drive the demand for cloud-basedservice delivery. No cloud service stands alone, but mastery over hybrid IT eludes all but a fewenterprises.

    In "2014 Strategic Road Map for Business Process Innovation in Hybrid IT," Gartner offers a roadmap that prepares LOB managers and IT leaders to capitalize on the contributions that cloud makesto business process innovation. In "Hybrid IT: Delivering IT as a Provider and a Trusted Broker," weexamine how cloud computing is taking multisourcing to a new more dynamic level and changingthe mission and operational model for IT the new core competency is to be the trusted broker forservices delivered from many changing providers.


    Software engineering best practices have rebalanced over the years among monolithic, modular,and object- and service-oriented approaches. A classic "centralization versus decentralization"battle has played out repeatedly as the pendulum swung from "big iron" to "big client" and backagain. "Client-Cloud Applications: The Rebirth of Client/Server Architecture" explains howenterprises are faced with the increasing power of mobile devices, the advantages of cloudcomputing as a delivery model for applications, and the need for better and more-differentiated userexperiences.

    In "Stepping Up to the Nexus of Forces With Nexus-Enabled Application Architecture," we examinehow the Nexus of Forces increases the urgency of adopting new agile, scalable and extensibleapplication architecture that goes beyond client/server architecture to address the increasinglycomplex mobile client world, smart devices, rich information sources, social interactions andinterfaces and cloud optimized application models.

    As the trend to address an increasingly complex client world and a cloud-centric application modelprogresses, many seemingly disparate elements, shown in "Hype Cycle for ApplicationDevelopment, 2013," will converge and interact with one another to form the technologies to delivermodern applications. These include reactive programming and responsive design, mobilecontainers, public Web APIs, hybrid mobile development and advanced user experience tools.

    The Era of Personal Cloud

    The personal cloud is the next major evolution of the user experience. Client/cloud architecturefocuses on the underlying architectural models used to deliver applications and content in contextto users. Personal cloud focuses on the experience of the individual user when interacting with

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  • these systems. It reflects the new reality that users are relying on a broad collection of connecteddigital devices (including embedded IoT devices) in all aspects of their lives and embraces theimportance of cloud services to make this happen. The devices and the services that each useraccesses on a daily basis form a unique personal cloud for that specific user, which, in turn,becomes the central hub for the user's digital life: syncing, sharing, storing and streaming content,information and personal settings.

    While the personal cloud is primarily a consumer phenomenon, the ongoing consumerization of ITwill push the personal cloud deeper into the enterprise. IT will increasingly have to consider how anycapability they deliver fits into the unique personal cloud of an employee, a business partner or acustomer. "How the Personal Cloud Impacts IT Organizations" shows how IT organizations will findthat current approaches to dealing with users will fail as the personal cloud rises in importance. ITleaders must be flexible and respond with new techniques, tools and policies, or risk irrelevancewith their user base.

    Software-Defined Anything

    To make a reality the increasingly complex and dynamic world in which everything is a computerand cloud-based services are dynamically delivered and integrated will require substantial changesto the underlying infrastructure. Static infrastructure that requires significant manual operation isneither cost-effective nor flexible enough to support these needs. SDx is a collective term thatencapsulates the growing market momentum toward improved standards for infrastructureprogrammability and data center interoperability, which is driven by automation inherent to cloudcomputing, DevOps and fast infrastructure provisioning. SDx includes focus on infrastructure (thatis, SDI), networking (that is, SDN), storage (that is, SDS) and data centers (that is, SDDCs).

    Software-defined networking is a leading example of the software-defined phenomena. In"Software-Defined Networking Will Change the Data Center Network Vendor Landscape," weexplore the adoption of software-defined networking and how it is sparking a race among traditionaland new data center networking vendors, creating competition and opportunities for all vendors."Software-Defined Storage Could Herald a Storage Architecture Evolution" provides advice on howtechnology and service providers can effectively separate hype from reality, and deliver value tostorage buyers.

    As a collective, SDx also incorporates various initiatives like OpenStack, OpenFlow, the OpenCompute Project and Open Rack, which share similar visions. The goal of SDx is to abstractconventional, proprietary vendor hardware or software-specific implementations so that users haveless lock-in. This is achieved through the concept of an infrastructure policy framework andinteroperability through open APIs. SDx is an emerging conceptual model that will take some timeto mature and will evolve in discrete areas. As SDx becomes a flashpoint for data centermodernization, IT must be both visionary and pragmatic. "Converged Infrastructure: Utopia orMyopia?" explores the limitations and potential of convergence when considering long-terminvestments in SDx-related technologies.

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  • Web-Scale IT

    Leading cloud services organizations have been experimenting with new ways to deliver IT services.Their efforts have resulted in a "singularity" event that changed the trajectory of the IT landscape. Inmany ways, Web-scale IT is the result of the demand to create global-class cloud services toaddress the increasingly complex client environment, using automation and other software-definedand policy-based models to drive speed and agility.

    In "The Long-Term Impact of Web-Scale IT Will Be Dramatic," we discuss how Web-scale IT willdisrupt the status quo with respect to vendors and enterprise end users. In "Strategic TechnologyTrend: Web-Scale Singularity Means Goodbye to Conventional IT Wisdom," we look at how openand freely available blueprints of data center facilities and associated server, storage andnetworking hardware are lowering costs and disrupting the traditional IT vendor landscape.

    At the same time, loosely coupled, Web-oriented architecture (WOA)-based software architecturesare enabling development teams to increasingly operate independently, while improving overallapplication resiliency. And the influence of DevOps on IT culture, tools, processes andorganizational structure is resulting in the acceleration of application delivery and an environment ofcontinuous experimentation. Enterprise IT leaders cannot afford to ignore these developments.

    Smart Machines

    Steady advances in computing, the availability of massive and varied information, and the ability todeliver results via cloud services are powering the emergence of smart machines. Smart machinesdo what we thought only people could do and machines could not. "Top 10 Strategic Technologies The Rise of Smart Machines" highlights how collaboration between people and smart machineswill make some people far more effective (ultimately reshaping the structure and competitivebalance of industries).

    Enterprises will also see cost- and risk-cutting opportunities created by replacing some employeesand contractors with smart machines. IT has the opportunity to provide leadership, but IT leadersneed to actively deal with the threats and opportunities now, while time is on their side.

    Smart machines represent a long-term and highly disruptive set of trends. In "Smart MachinesMean Big Impacts: Benefits, Risks and Massive Disruptions," we explore how, through 2020, thesmart machine era will blossom with a proliferation of contextually aware, intelligent personalassistants, smart advisors (for example, IBM Watson), advanced global industrial systems andpublic availability of early examples of autonomous vehicles.

    3D Printing

    The speed of development and rise in buyer interest are pressing hardware, software and serviceproviders to offer easier-to-use tools and materials that produce consistently high-quality results. Asthe products rapidly mature, organizations will increasingly exploit 3D printing's potential.

    In "Strategic Technology Trends 3D Printing Transforms Organizations," we reveal how the hypeabout the consumer 3D printing market masks immediate opportunities for organizations of all sizes

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  • and types. For example, 3D printing technology will have a transformational effect on the retailindustry and could revolutionize the supply chain. This means IT professionals must learn about thekey 3D printing trends that are driving changes to their organization while developing a frameworkfor evaluating its impact.

    In "Predicts 2014: 3D Printing at the Inflection Point," we examine how the 3D printer market ispoised to emerge from years of low growth and to double in size year over year by 2017.

    Gartner Recommended ReadingSome documents may not be available as part of your current Gartner subscription.

    "BYOD Doesn't Have to Be All or Nothing: Match Smartphone, Tablet and PC Rollouts toOrganizational Readiness and Employee Demand"

    "BYOD Is an Applications Strategy, Not Just a Purchasing Policy"

    "The Mobile Imperative: Mobile Application Strategies and Architecture"

    "The Information of Things: Why Big Data Will Drive the Value in the Internet of Things"

    "Decision Point for Selecting a Mobile Application Architecture"

    "Market Trends: 3D Printing, Worldwide, 2013"

    "The Disruptive Era of Smart Machines Is Upon Us"

    "The Internet of Everything"

    "Hype Cycle for Virtualization, 2013"

    "The Nexus Effect and How the Nexus of Forces Alters Established Architecture Models"

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    AnalysisThe Effects of Mobile and Cloud Dominate Our Top 10

    Research HighlightsMobile Device Diversity and ManagementMobile Apps and ApplicationsThe Internet of EverythingHybrid Cloud and IT as Service BrokerCloud/ClientThe Era of Personal CloudSoftware-Defined AnythingWeb-Scale ITSmart Machines3D Printing

    Gartner Recommended Reading


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