Strategic big data ranks amongst Gartner’s top 10 IT trends for 2013

Gartner Inc, the world’s leading information technology research and advisory company, produces a report identifying what it regards as the biggest technology trends that will impact on business and enterprise. Gartner has previously identified trends like cloud computing, media tablets and big data. Gartner has now produced its list for 2013. According to Gartner fellow, David Cearley, this year’s list will be different, in that it will not highlight remarkable new technologies, but will simply be an evolution of the issues that have previously been flagged up. The reason for this is that things have moved more slowly than predicted. Cearley highlights big data as an example. Many companies, he argues, have looked at big data, but the problem is they haven’t really embraced the concept.

So this year’s trends report is set to focus on the issues that will have the biggest potential for significant enterprise impact over the next three years. So what has Gartner included in this year’s list? The answer is mobile device battles, mobile applications and HTML5, personal cloud, internet of things, hybrid IT and cloud computing, strategic big data, actionable big data analytics, mainstream in-memory computing, integrated ecosystems and enterprise app stores. Gartner maintains that all of these trends will combine to impact human, business and IT experiences.

Mobile Devices Battles:

Gartner believes that companies need to prepare for heterogeneity, with lots of different devices, including Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies. Companies have many different PCs and mobile devices, so no one platform or technology will dominate. Microsoft will make some headway, but will not be as successful as it has previously been, even with the introduction of Windows 8. Gartner expects Microsoft will gain about a 20 percent share in smartphones and tablets, mostly coming out of Android market share, but that will be dependent on how well Microsoft executes its strategies over the next few years.

Mobile Applications & HTML5:

Both native and HTML5 applications will be important in 2013, as well as hybrid and special apps. Companies have to learn to understand what works best for them and their target market.  HTML5 will be increasingly more important for a wide variety of needs, but “no client” (browser-only or Citrix-like solutions) will still be significant in some cases where security is important, whereas native apps may be better in consumer-facing applications.

Personal Cloud:

Gartner expects that the notion of a personal computer will be replaced by a notion of a personal cloud, including all the services an individual uses. Gartner argues that users will increasingly be focused on personal services as well as business services, and that consumers will increasingly define their digital lives in a personal cloud, defined by features such as cloud storage, and sync across devices.

Enterprise App Stores:

These will become strategic for governing cloud and mobile use in a world that is driven by consumers who pick their own devices. Whilst users want choice, IT needs licence management and distribution, as well as reporting.  IT will not have complete control, but will instead offer more capabilities for individual users and departments to choose from.  Tactical enterprise app stores will become more mainstream in 2014, and later mobile and cloud solutions will converge.

Internet of Things:

Over half of all Internet connections today already are “things,” ranging from remote sensors to cameras and building and infrastructure management. There will be tens of billions of permanent connections and hundreds of billions of intermittent connections between devices and the Internet. It soon will be cost-effective to add connectivity to any device.  To that end the concept of “operational technology” and IT “information technology” may well converge.

In many organizations, especially those with lots of devices, there will be a single executive who will oversee all Internet-connected entities. This will result in new business models, such as a digital supply chain, usage-based insurance models or taxes, or a “smart city” with devices informing municipal services. This will have an impact on an increasing number of organizations, and eventually, the Internet of things will become “the Internet of everything.”

Hybrid IT & Cloud Computing:

Cloud computing has been on Gartner’s list for years, but this has now been augmented by the concept of “hybrid IT,” where cloud will increasingly be hybrid, managed, and brokered.  The key issues are: strategic models for cloud service consumption; understanding when you should adopt cloud technology; building private cloud environments; managing hybrid cloud; adopting new application design and architecture to the cloud; and turning externally facing services into cloud services. The big new focus will be on the third area: taking private clouds and building a management platform for them, and then using that to manage both internal and external services, which helps IT become a broker for such services.

Strategic Big Data:

Big data will need to continue to deal not just with volume, but also with variety, velocity, and the complexity of data an organization is dealing with. Both internal and external data will need to be managed, and technologies like Hadoop will play some part in.  IT departments will eventually start to view this as a transformational architecture, replacing the homogenous relational database model with a heterogeneous fabric. In the long run, big data will need to be incorporated into an overall information strategy. Social data will be an important component of this data for many organizations. Gartner is promoting the concept of a logical data warehouse that federates data from lots of sources, as opposed to the “enterprise data warehouse” concept that was widely held as the model in previous years.

Actionable Analytics:

The key focus of big data is to provide actionable ideas to business. Driven by mobile, social, and big data forces, analytics will need to change to embrace concepts such as moving from offline analytics to in-line embedded analytics, and from explanatory analytics to predictive analytics. In the next year, a big focus will be on developing real-time operational intelligence, perhaps delivered to mobile devices out in the field.  Query and analytical engines like IBM‘s Watson and Apple’s Siri, are already being deployed where the analytical engine is just part of day-to-day operations and invisible to the consumer.

Mainstream In-Memory Computing:

In-memory enabled applications of all sorts are becoming more mainstream, and in-memory features will be embedded within many of the applications we buy, such as SAP’s HANA and other applications, ranging from websites to risk assessment. This will be particularly important for real-time analytics.

Integrated Ecosystems:

Finally, integrated systems will be more important, driven by needs for simplification, optimization and security. This will be seen in three areas: appliances are easier to deploy, manage, and configure, but no one appliance does it all, so they are always balanced with other solutions. Driven by cloud computing and things like Salesforce.com’s AppExchange and Microsoft’s marketplace, brokerages and marketplaces will become more important, with more vendors adding such services. Finally, end-to-end ecosystems, such as Apple’s control of apps and the App Store, will become more important in the mobile world.