As 2013 comes to a close, it’s time to look ahead, and a good place to start is Gartner’s top ten strategic technology trends for 2014 , which point to an accelerating velocity of change that we ignore at our peril:
- Mobile device diversity and management
The size of the mobile workforce is doubling or even tripling due to BYOD, which will seriously strain IT and finance operations. If your policies don’t address BYOD so that flexibility is balanced against confidentiality and privacy requirements, your enterprise is at risk.
- Mobile apps and applications
HTML5 will transform the browser into a mainstream enterprise application development environment favoring smaller, targeted apps over more comprehensive applications. Coming next: inferring user intent from their actions and expression of emotion to motivate changes in behavior.
- The Internet of everything
Digitizing everything from cars and TVs to field equipment is a first step toward combining datastreams and services that will coalesce into four basic usage models — manage, monetize, operate, extend — that enterprises from all industries can leverage.
- Hybrid cloud and IT as service broker
Private cloud services will go hybrid, managed by a cloud service broker with responsibility for aggregation, integration and customization of services.
- Cloud/client architecture
While robust mobile device capabilities and network costs/constraints create incentives to exploit client-side computing, the increasingly complex demands of mobile users will intensify the appetite for more server-side computing and storage capacity.
- The era of the personal cloud
The personal cloud will replace a single device as the primary hub as users rely on a collection of devices.
- Software-defined anything
Automation inherent to cloud computing, DevOps and fast infrastructure provisioning are generating momentum for improved standards-based infrastructure programmability and data center interoperability.
- Web-scale IT
The increasingly resilient and flexible capabilities of large cloud service providers (Amazon, Google, Facebook, etc.) are changing the scale at which IT services can be delivered — not just in terms of size but also speed and agility.
- Smart machines
Gartner predicts an impending smart machine era will be the most disruptive in the history of IT as new kinds of systems do what we previously thought only people could do. Gartner believes that by 2020 we will see contextually aware, intelligent personal assistants as well as smart advisors (think IBM Watson), advanced global industrial systems and public availability of early-generation autonomous vehicles.
- 3-D printing
The market for devices ranging from $50,000 to as little as $500, and with commensurate material and build capabilities, remains nascent — yet it’s growing rapidly and is on its way to becoming a powerful way to improve designs, streamline prototyping and enable more cost-effective short-run manufacturing.