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Monday, October 18, 2010

Four Big Trends Changing Computing, Gartner Says

Cloud computing, social computing, context-aware computing, and pattern-based strategy are the four big trends that will alter IT in the next few years, according to Peter Sondergaard, SVP of Research for Gartner.  Opening Gartner Symposium, one of the biggest annual gatherings of IT professionals, Sondergaard and other Gartner analysts expounded on the topic of “new realities, rules, and opportunities” that they say are transforming the technology and practice of IT.  While none of these trends is particularly new, taken together, they do have the potential of really changing IT.

Sondergaard started by talking about how it usually takes about 10 years from when a technology appears until it really changes business, citing the PC, mobile phone, and Internet as example.  He noted that while the IBM PC appeared in 1981, it didn’t reach an installed base of 100 million units until 1990.  Twenty years ago, Tim Berners-Lee sent the first Web request; by late 1996, there were less than half a million Web sites; but today there are 250 million sites and 1.8 billion Web users.  Global IT traffic is doubling every 2 years, and the information we create is moving from 275 exabytes per year to 275 exabytes per day by 2020.

Social computing will blur the lines between enterprise and personal computing, and social networking within and between organizations will massively improve productivity.

Context-aware computing means many more connected devices with sensors that understand the location, language, feelings and dreams of consumers by using patterns to determine your desires.

Pattern-based strategy uses predictive analytics on both structured and unstructured data, but it’s more about a business framework that lets us seek and model patterns, and then adapt accordingly.

Each of these trends is disruptive, he said, but the combination is an “unimaginable force” that will transform not just IT, but business and government.

But while IT budgets grew from $1.2 trillion in 2000 to $2.4 trillion now, overall, they aren’t growing very fast, he said.  He said that while IT departments have been internally focused on optimizing processes and costs for the past 20 years, now it was more about business processes.

And he said that while the IT vendor industry is changing—through mergers and acquisitions creating “supervendors”—the four big trends in IT directions will bring this strategy into question.

Eric Knipp said the old rules of IT as a “black box” were ending, as users now have unprecedented IT resources.  As a result, CIOs and IT managers must transform themselves from controllers to implementers; implementing “smart control”—managing technology in tighter concert with business goals.

Knipp said the concept of creating IT systems that are “built to last” is obsolete and is being replaced by a new dynamism of “built to change.”

He talked about layering the applications portfolio to systems of record that need to be stable and secure, like a GL; systems of differentiation that you don’t know how long they will last, such as pricing; and systems of innovation, built for ad hoc projects or collaboration.

Nick Jones and Research VP Hung LeHong talked about how all the information available via sensors, social networks, and advanced analytics, were changing all industries from retail, to warehouses, to construction.

Jones said that cloud computing enables quantum change in the economics of IT, letting CIOs save as much as 50 percent of operational costs; and this can allow the funds for IT departments to innovate.

Posted on 10/18