Gartner's top 10 strategic technologies for 2010

Gartner's list of technologies that bear examination during the next three years show an agile, mobile, secure enterprise that can spot early warning signs and predict trends.

ORLANDO, FLA. -- Gartner Inc. released its top 10 strategic technologies for 2010 this week, a list that paints a picture of an agile, mobile, secure enterprise where advanced analytics and social media identify early warning signs of failure and predict emerging business trends.

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That vision was further extolled in numerous sessions at the annual Gartner Symposium/ ITxpo, where the research firm's executives described the past year as possibly the worst ever for IT. "Trust declined more dramatically in the past year than ever before," Gartner CEO Gene Hall said in his opening remarks.

Though IT budgets won't increase at many organizations, Gartner predicted a 3.3% growth rate for IT spending next year, plus a shift from capital to operating expenditures as "IT costs become scalable and elastic with the business," said Peter Sondergaard, senior vice president of research.

The top 10 strategic technologies list, proffered annually by David Cearley and Carl Claunch, wasn't the only such list offered up at the event. Sondergaard offered a list of nine focus areas based on an analysis of what people are searching for on Gartner's website. The top tier: Cost management, which will continue to be a top issue for 2010 but will encompass risk and growth as well; cloud computing, which will move from the discussion phase to small pilots; and process optimization around enterprise applications (ERP, customer relationship management, supply chain management) that will allow organizations to get more out of these investments.

His second tier included business intelligence; virtualization, as organizations create the foundation of a cloud infrastructure and move from owned to shared assets; and social media. The latter isn't just for so-called digital natives but also for "silver surfers," those over 60 who will become the most important segment in the next 10 years, he said.

The top 10 strategic technologies for 2010

Cearley and Claunch's list focuses on technologies that have the "potential for significant impact on the enterprise during the next three years." Some have fallen off the list from past years because companies should have already incorporated them into their plans (like service-oriented architecture or master data management), their adoption has slowed (unified communications) or there won't be market shifts warranting inclusion on the 2010 list (specialized systems and servers beyond blades). Others have come back in new forms: virtualization, which topped the 2009 list, is now embedded in several wider areas as well as standing on its own for a specific usage.

Here, then, is the list for 2010:

Gartner's 2009 list
The top 10 strategic technologies for 2009 were as follows:

1. Virtualization
2. Business intelligence
3. Cloud computing
4. Green IT
5. Unified communications
6. Social software and social networking
7. Web-oriented architecture
8. Enterprise mashups
9. Specialized systems
10. Servers -- beyond blades

1. Cloud computing. Organizations should think about how to approach the cloud in terms of using cloud services, developing cloud-based applications and implementing private cloud computing environments. "Everything will be available as a service," Cearley said. "That doesn't mean you use it all [or] move it all there."

2. Advanced analytics. Real-time data analysis will enable fraud detection on one hand and prediction and simulation on the other, as organizations use data to look ahead.

3. Client computing. Enterprises need to develop a five- to eight-year client computing roadmap before making near-term decisions such as whether or how to upgrade client hardware or move to Windows 7. The progression of desktop virtualization technology and the range of devices available make this an important analysis. "Build a strategic client computing roadmap bringing all issues and devices together, or you will be following vendor roadmaps," Cearley said.

4. IT for green. The "green" concept has moved beyond energy-efficient data centers to using IT to enable green throughout the enterprise. For example, an organization could use IT to analyze and optimize shipping of goods.

5. Reshaping the data center. A flexible "pod" model, where data center sections can be independently heated, cooled and powered, allows the organization to light up new sections only when needed.

6. Social computing. Organizations need to examine the use of social media by both internal and external constituents and figure out how to govern it. Social network analysis can be used both to detect fraud and to change business processes to boost internal efficiency.

7. Security -- activity monitoring. As targeted attacks rise and cloud computing adds complexity, organizations need to identify a longer-term plan for how all of their security technologies come together. Security incident and event management devices, for example, are one approach that is becoming mainstream.

8. Flash memory. This technology, made ubiquitous by popular USB sticks, is a faster, although more expensive, storage alternative. Price drops mean it will offer a "new layer of the storage hierarchy in servers and client computers," Gartner said.

9. Virtualization for availability. Live migration technology such as VMware Inc.'s VMotion will enable the use of virtualization for high performance, possibly displacing failover cluster software and even fault-tolerant hardware.

10. Mobile applications. Mobile is at a tipping point, given the proliferation of handheld devices and their power and storage.

Let us know what you think about the story; email: Anne McCrory, Editorial Director

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