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The Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2014

Published: 19 February 2014 Analyst(s): David W. Cearley

Gartner has compiled its annual list of the top 10 strategic technology trends that have the potential to disrupt individuals, businesses and IT organizations. This year's list highlights the disruptive impact of the Nexus of Forces: 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 disruptive enterprise impact over the next three years, and identified the following top 10 trends:
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10.

Mobile device diversity and management Mobile apps and applications The Internet of Everything Hybrid cloud and IT as service broker Cloud/client The era of personal cloud Software-defined anything Web-scale IT Smart machines 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 adopt new) 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 is on trends where an acceleration, shift or tipping point is occurring or is likely to occur during the next 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. These may be technologies that have matured and/or become suitable for a wider range of uses. In the case 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 IT environment. A technology may also be an emerging one that offers an opportunity for strategic business competitive advantage for early adopters, or has the potential for significant market disruption during the next three years. For emerging technologies, the strategic decision may be to request funding for evaluation. We selected these trends because they have broad impact across a wide range of industries and companies. However, individual companies should use the list, and lists from previous years, as a starting point to create their own customized lists. Adjustments based on industry, unique business needs, technology adoption models (for example, early adopter, mainstream or risk-averse) and other factors could change the emphasis or, in some cases, add or remove trends. Factor these technologies into your strategic planning processes by explicitly evaluating the potential 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. In other 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 to one or more of the trends. Gartner recommends that IT organizations, particularly in rapidly changing industries, formalize the technology research function to track emerging and strategic trends. Ultimately, the reason for examining trends such as these is to understand their potential impact on the enterprise. CIOs and IT strategy leaders should recognize that the impact can be positive or negative, 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 a competitor 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 core end-user app and experience. Moreover, the ongoing mobile trend has been a major diver in the expansion of social media and the generation of new location-based and other contextual information. Cloud is becoming a mainstream computing style and delivery option with hybrid cloud, cloud brokerage, and new delivery, management and security options accelerating adoption. The advent of cloud-based information sources, including social data, continues to drive big data analysis 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 delivery vehicle and "remote brain" for these devices. The forces are combining to drive new application architectures and a new user experience, including the "personal cloud." Information and social elements are deeply embedded into all of the strategic trends. On the information supply side, the Internet of Everything (IoE) drives an enormous increase in information available for analysis. On the information demand side, the IoE expands the target endpoints and user scenarios, where the results of this analysis are needed. Beyond IoE, the explosion in cloud-based information from enterprise and external sources, the need to combine that with existing enterprise information sources and the expansion of areas where deep information analytics is needed (for example, Web-scale IT, software-defined anything [SDx] and smart machines) drives the need for more sophisticated and proactive information management and analytical models. The nexus forces create demand for advanced programmable infrastructure and services that can execute at Web scale, and support the personal cloud and new application models that place emphasis on cloud-centered design combined with rich mobile and embedded client experiences. Client/cloud and nexus-driven application architectures will be needed.

Research Highlights
We have research that delves into each technology trend and explores its impact. The following is a brief 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 end users. Many of today's core IT systems, such as SAP, appear to focus on serving IT rather than end-user interests. As a result, end users are willing to spend their own money on personalization options such as using a favorite mobile phone or tablet along with personal apps that make their work life easier and more productive. They desire the devices and programs that they believe will best-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," we explain 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 leaders can apply the managed diversity model to all "smart" endpoint device types, including mobile phones, smart desk phones, PCs, notebooks and tablets. Beyond the traditional mobile and PC space, companies such as Google and Samsung are pioneering wearable devices in the form of eyeglasses and wrist-based devices. This expansion of client endpoints will drive further diversity. We explore this growing market segment in "ODMs and EMS 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 and Walgreens, are referencing their mobile strategies in their annual reports as a means of achieving business objectives and driving competitive advantage. These companies are being innovative with their 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. As we highlight in "Use Mobile Apps to Provide Customer Value, and Revenue Will Follow," providing a valuable customer experience will increase mobile commerce app adoption, drive usage, and increase both loyalty and revenue. IT and business leaders supporting e-commerce should incorporate the five attributes of successful mobile apps, as this will improve the customer experience. However, building a better user experience to address the expanding mobile world goes beyond ecommerce. In "How to Structure the Organization to Build Better User Experiences," we explore what changes in organizational structure, culture and responsibilities are required to address the new mobile-centric app world. And in "How Apps Will Impact the Management of Application Development," we highlight how apps as an emerging software construct that ties value to purposefulness will have dramatic impact for enterprise IT application leaders in relation to design strategies, software life cycle management and funding arrangements.

The Internet of Everything

Computing endpoints extend well beyond the mobile world to include the Internet of Things. The Internet (or more simply, the Web) plays an increasingly central role in the modern world, not only at the level of infrastructure but also in culture, society and business. The Internet of Things extends that 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 a person at either endpoint. The Internet of Things will be big, but just how big depends on exactly what is included. "The Potential 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 also describes 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 for Internet 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 SaaS and 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 to reinvent business processes as part of their digital business strategies. On-premises development or deployment of all of the pieces of a reinvented process is too time-consuming and too costly to yield competitive advantage. The emergence of the IoE and the explosion of mobile devices and apps in the hands of employees, partners and customers further drive the demand for cloud-based service delivery. No cloud service stands alone, but mastery over hybrid IT eludes all but a few enterprises. In "2014 Strategic Road Map for Business Process Innovation in Hybrid IT," Gartner offers a road map that prepares LOB managers and IT leaders to capitalize on the contributions that cloud makes to business process innovation. In "Hybrid IT: Delivering IT as a Provider and a Trusted Broker," we examine how cloud computing is taking multisourcing to a new more dynamic level and changing the mission and operational model for IT the new core competency is to be the trusted broker for services 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 back again. "Client-Cloud Applications: The Rebirth of Client/Server Architecture" explains how enterprises are faced with the increasing power of mobile devices, the advantages of cloud computing as a delivery model for applications, and the need for better and more-differentiated user experiences. In "Stepping Up to the Nexus of Forces With Nexus-Enabled Application Architecture," we examine how the Nexus of Forces increases the urgency of adopting new agile, scalable and extensible application architecture that goes beyond client/server architecture to address the increasingly complex mobile client world, smart devices, rich information sources, social interactions and interfaces and cloud optimized application models. As the trend to address an increasingly complex client world and a cloud-centric application model progresses, many seemingly disparate elements, shown in "Hype Cycle for Application Development, 2013," will converge and interact with one another to form the technologies to deliver modern applications. These include reactive programming and responsive design, mobile containers, 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 architecture focuses on the underlying architectural models used to deliver applications and content in context to 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 connected digital devices (including embedded IoT devices) in all aspects of their lives and embraces the importance of cloud services to make this happen. The devices and the services that each user accesses 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 IT will push the personal cloud deeper into the enterprise. IT will increasingly have to consider how any capability they deliver fits into the unique personal cloud of an employee, a business partner or a customer. "How the Personal Cloud Impacts IT Organizations" shows how IT organizations will find that current approaches to dealing with users will fail as the personal cloud rises in importance. IT leaders must be flexible and respond with new techniques, tools and policies, or risk irrelevance with their user base.

Software-Defined Anything
To make a reality the increasingly complex and dynamic world in which everything is a computer and cloud-based services are dynamically delivered and integrated will require substantial changes to the underlying infrastructure. Static infrastructure that requires significant manual operation is neither cost-effective nor flexible enough to support these needs. SDx is a collective term that encapsulates the growing market momentum toward improved standards for infrastructure programmability and data center interoperability, which is driven by automation inherent to cloud computing, DevOps and fast infrastructure provisioning. SDx includes focus on infrastructure (that is, 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," we explore the adoption of software-defined networking and how it is sparking a race among traditional and new data center networking vendors, creating competition and opportunities for all vendors. "Software-Defined Storage Could Herald a Storage Architecture Evolution" provides advice on how technology and service providers can effectively separate hype from reality, and deliver value to storage buyers. As a collective, SDx also incorporates various initiatives like OpenStack, OpenFlow, the Open Compute Project and Open Rack, which share similar visions. The goal of SDx is to abstract conventional, proprietary vendor hardware or software-specific implementations so that users have less lock-in. This is achieved through the concept of an infrastructure policy framework and interoperability through open APIs. SDx is an emerging conceptual model that will take some time to mature and will evolve in discrete areas. As SDx becomes a flashpoint for data center modernization, IT must be both visionary and pragmatic. "Converged Infrastructure: Utopia or Myopia?" explores the limitations and potential of convergence when considering long-term investments 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. In many ways, Web-scale IT is the result of the demand to create global-class cloud services to address the increasingly complex client environment, using automation and other software-defined and 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 will disrupt the status quo with respect to vendors and enterprise end users. In "Strategic Technology Trend: Web-Scale Singularity Means Goodbye to Conventional IT Wisdom," we look at how open and freely available blueprints of data center facilities and associated server, storage and networking hardware are lowering costs and disrupting the traditional IT vendor landscape. At the same time, loosely coupled, Web-oriented architecture (WOA)-based software architectures are enabling development teams to increasingly operate independently, while improving overall application resiliency. And the influence of DevOps on IT culture, tools, processes and organizational structure is resulting in the acceleration of application delivery and an environment of continuous 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 to deliver results via cloud services are powering the emergence of smart machines. Smart machines do 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 machines will make some people far more effective (ultimately reshaping the structure and competitive balance of industries). Enterprises will also see cost- and risk-cutting opportunities created by replacing some employees and contractors with smart machines. IT has the opportunity to provide leadership, but IT leaders need 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 Machines Mean Big Impacts: Benefits, Risks and Massive Disruptions," we explore how, through 2020, the smart machine era will blossom with a proliferation of contextually aware, intelligent personal assistants, smart advisors (for example, IBM Watson), advanced global industrial systems and public availability of early examples of autonomous vehicles.

3D Printing
The speed of development and rise in buyer interest are pressing hardware, software and service providers to offer easier-to-use tools and materials that produce consistently high-quality results. As the products rapidly mature, organizations will increasingly exploit 3D printing's potential. In "Strategic Technology Trends 3D Printing Transforms Organizations," we reveal how the hype about 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 retail industry and could revolutionize the supply chain. This means IT professionals must learn about the key 3D printing trends that are driving changes to their organization while developing a framework for evaluating its impact. In "Predicts 2014: 3D Printing at the Inflection Point," we examine how the 3D printer market is poised to emerge from years of low growth and to double in size year over year by 2017.

Gartner Recommended Reading

Some 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 to Organizational 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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