Top 10 strategic technologies for business in 2010

21 Oct 2009

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Analyst firm Gartner has predicted the 10 top technologies that will be strategic for most organisations in 2010, including cloud computing, advanced analytics and green tech.

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.

These technologies impact the organisation’s long-term plans, programs and initiatives. They may be strategic because they have matured to broad market use or because they enable strategic advantage from early adoption.

“Companies should factor the Top 10 technologies into their strategic planning process by asking key questions and making deliberate decisions about them during the next two years,” said David Cearley, vice-president and distinguished analyst at Gartner.

“However, this does not necessarily mean adoption and investment in all of the technologies. They should determine which technologies will help and transform their individual business initiatives.”

The Top 10 strategic technologies for 2010 include:

Cloud Computing. Cloud-based services can be exploited in a variety of ways to develop an application or a solution. Using cloud resources does not eliminate the costs of IT solutions, but does re-arrange some and reduce others. In addition, consuming cloud-services enterprises will increasingly act as cloud providers and deliver application, information or business process services to customers and business partners.

Advanced Analytics. Optimisation and simulation in using analytical tools and models to maximise business process and decision effectiveness by examining alternative outcomes and scenarios, before, during and after process implementation and execution.

Client Computing. Virtualisation is bringing new ways of packaging client computing applications and capabilities. As a result, the choice of a particular PC hardware platform, and eventually the OS platform, becomes less critical. Enterprises should proactively build a five- to eight-year strategic client-computing road map outlining an approach to device standards, ownership and support; operating system and application selection, deployment and update; and management and security plans to manage diversity.

IT for Green. IT can enable many green initiatives. The use of IT, particularly among the white-collar staff, can greatly enhance an enterprise’s green credentials. Common green initiatives include the use of e-documents, reducing travel and teleworking. IT can also provide the analytic tools that others in the enterprise may use to reduce energy consumption in the transportation of goods or other carbon management activities.

Reshaping the Data Centre. In the past, design principles for data centres were simple: Figure out what you have, estimate growth for 15 to 20 years, then build to suit. Newly-built data centres often opened with huge areas of white floor space, fully powered and backed by a uninterruptable power supply (UPS), water- and air-cooled and mostly empty. However, costs are actually lower if enterprises adopt a pod-based approach to data-centre construction and expansion. If 9,000 sq feet is expected to be needed during the life of a data centre, then design the site to support it, but only build what’s needed for five to seven years.

cloud

Social Computing. Workers do not want two distinct environments to support their work – one for their own work products (whether personal or group) and another for accessing “external” information. Enterprises must focus both on use of social software and social media in the enterprise and participation and integration with externally facing enterprise-sponsored and public communities.

Security – Activity Monitoring. Security departments are facing increasing demands for ever-greater log analysis and reporting to support audit requirements. A variety of complimentary (and sometimes overlapping) monitoring and analysis tools help enterprises better detect and investigate suspicious activity – often with real-time alerting or transaction intervention.

Flash Memory. Flash memory is not new, but it is moving up to a new tier in the storage echelon. Flash memory is a semiconductor memory device, familiar from its use in USB memory sticks and digital camera cards. It is much faster than rotating disks, but considerably more expensive, however this differential is shrinking. At the rate of price declines, the technology will enjoy more than a 100pc compound annual growth rate during the new few years and become strategic in many IT areas.

Virtualisation for Availability. Virtualisation is on the list this year because Gartner emphasises new elements, such as live migration for availability that have longer-term implications. Live migration is the movement of a running virtual machine (VM), while its operating system and other software continue to execute as if they remained on the original physical server.

Mobile Applications. By year-end 2010, 1.2 billion people will carry handsets capable of rich, mobile commerce providing a rich environment for the convergence of mobility and the web. There are already many thousands of applications for platforms such as the Apple iPhone, in spite of the limited market and need for unique coding. It may take a newer version that is designed to flexibly operate on both full PC and miniature systems, but if the operating system interface and processor architecture were identical, that enabling factor would create a huge turn upwards in mobile application availability.

“This list should be used as a starting point and companies should adjust their list based on their industry, unique business needs and technology adoption mode,” said Carl Claunch, vice-president and distinguished analyst at Gartner.

“When determining what may be right for each company, the decision may not have anything to do with a particular technology. In other cases, it will be to continue investing in the technology at the current rate. In still other cases, the decision may be to test/pilot or more aggressively adopt/deploy the technology.”

By John Kennedy

Photo: Topmost: Common green initiatives include the use of e-documents, reducing travel and teleworking.

Above: Using cloud resources does not eliminate IT solutions costs, but does re-arrange some and reduce others.

Editor John Kennedy is an award-winning technology journalist.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com