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Gartner Identifies Top 10 Strategic Technologies for 2011

Gartner Research, a world leading information technology research and advisory company, comes out with annual predictions on strategic technologies that will have an impact on organizations in the coming year.  Gartner defines a strategic technology as “one with the potential for significant impact on the enterprise in the next three years. Factors that denote significant impact include a high potential for disruption to IT or the business, the need for a major dollar investment, or the risk of being late to adopt.”

The top 10 for 2011:

  • Cloud Computing is web-based processing (i.e. Google’s Gmail is an example of cloud computing), whereby shared resources (software, etc.) are available on demand over the Internet to computers and mobile devices like smart phones.  Gartner predicts that cloud computing will become more common.  This is a paradigm shift really – for generations we have depended on client workstations and installed applications to perform tasks.  With cloud computing, we will depend more on, well, the cloud housing all of our data as well as applications.  There might be slower adoption-rates for hospitals and other information-sensitive organizations.
  • Mobile Applications and Media Tablets: Gartner estimates that by the end of 2010, 1.2 billion people will carry handsets capable of “rich, mobile commerce” which would also include  the ability to use your handset/smartphone almost like a personal computer.
  • Social Communications and Collaboration includes Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, etc. in terms of communication, and Microsoft Live, Google Docs, Zoho, etc. for collaboration purposes.  Facebook earned prominence in 2010 by signing up the 500,000,000th user.  The number of hospitals that are using these social apps is growing.  Look at Ed Bennett’s Hospital Social Network List as an example.   These social apps are not only gaining in popularity but also finding enterprise uses: CRM’s (content management system) are starting to integrate social information into their new versions.  Gartner predicts that by 2016, these social apps will be integrated into most organizational/business applications.  Organizations can also use data coming from social feedback mechanisms like Yelp and Twitter to see what the public is saying about them and make changes as necessary.
  • Video: not exactly a new format but being increasingly used by non-media companies.  “Over the next three years Gartner believes that video will become a commonplace content type and interaction model for most users, and by 2013, more than 25 percent of the content that workers see in a day will be dominated by pictures, video or audio.”  How will this affect hospitals and HIPAA?
  • Next Generation Analytics: the ability to run simulations that can better predict outcomes, rather than depending mostly on past data.
  • Social Analytics: “Social analytics describes the process of measuring, analyzing and interpreting the results of interactions and associations among people, topics and ideas. These interactions may occur on social software applications used in the workplace, in internally or externally facing communities or on the social web.”
  • Context-Aware Computing: An example of this is location-aware computing.  Based on your IP address, when you search Google, do you notice how it tends to give you back results from your own backyard?  Expanding on this concept is using your preferences, environment and connections to determine how best to interact with the end-user.
  • Storage Class Memory: Flash memory has been around for much of this decade.  It’s commonly used in thumb drives/flash drives.  Apple’s iPad runs on Flash memory rather than a hard drive, as does the iPhone.  It is cheaper to produce and has better performance with heat and space than standard optical hard drives.  Gartner predicts that more storage devices will use flash memory more commonly in the next few years.
  • Ubiquitous Computing: “It’s a bug that cars were invented before computers.”  So says Eric Schmidt of Google in this article.  Google has created a computer-controlled car.  No interaction from humans is the goal while driving, according to Google.  Ubiquitous computing is stating a fact of which we are all painfully aware: computers are everywhere.  They control how we work, live, play on a daily basis.  Gartner predicts the world will only become more computer-dependent in the next year.
  • Fabric-based Infrastructure and Computers – um, this one was sort of over my head so I skipped it.  Let’s hope it wasn’t important.

You can read the whole news release for yourself.

This is not the last Top 10 prediction list to come out for 2011.  It’s just the first of many.

I was looking at Gartner’s “hype cycle” for 2009.  They are usually pretty spot-on with their predictions.  No glaring surprises in the 2009 report and what ended up happening in 2010.  What do you see as a strategic technology for your organization in 2011?

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