Rise of smart machines, ubiquitous access and software-defined architectures will reshape IT, Gartner says

ORLANDO—Gartner defines its Strategic Technology Trends as those technologies that have the most potential to drive great change in the enterprise IT arena in the next three years.

Indeed this year’s crop has that potential as trends like software-defined networks and 3D printing take center stage in Gartner’s list.

“You need to be looing at linking to customers in new and unique ways; what technologies set the foundation to enable these moves,” said Gartner vice president David Cearly. IT will be dealing with everything from virtual technologies to intelligent machines and analytics data everywhere, he said. “And in the end all things run through a completely secure environment.”

So Gartner’s Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2015 list looks like this:

1. Computing everywhere: Cleary says the idea here is that the trend is not just about applications but rather wearable systems, intelligent screens on walls and the like. Microsoft, Google and Apple will fight over multiple aspects of this technology. You will see more and more sensors that will generate even more data and IT will have to know how to exploit this—think new ways to track users and their interactions with your company—in an effective, positive way.

2. The Internet of things: Yes this one is getting old it seems, but there’s more to it than the hype. Here IT will have to manage all of these devices and develop effective business models to take advantage of it. Cearly said IT needs to get new projects going and to embrace the “maker culture” so people in your organizations can come up with new solutions to problems.

3. 3D Printing: Another item that has been on the Gartner list for a couple years. But things are changing rapidly in this environment. Cearly says 3D printing has hit a tipping point in terms of materials that can be used and price points of machines. It enables cost reduction in many cases. IT needs to look at 3D printing and thinks about how it can make your company more agile, can it drive innovation?

4. Advanced, Pervasive and Invisible Analytics: Security analytics are heart of next generation of security models. Cearly said IT needs to look at building data reservoirs that can tie together multiple repositories that can let IT see all manner of new information – such as data usage patterns and what he called “meaningful anomalies” it can act on quickly.

5. Context-Rich Systems: This one has been a Gartner favorite for a long time – and with good reason. The use of systems that utilize “situational and environmental information about people, places and things” in order to provide a service, is definitely on the rise. IT needs to look at creating ever more intelligent user interfaces linking lots of different apps and data.

6. Smart Machines: This one is happening rapidly. Cearly pointed to IBM’s Watson, which is “learning” to fight cancer, and a mining company – Rio Tinto—which is using automated trucks in its mines. Virtual sages, digital assistants and other special service software agents will about in this world, he said.

7. Cloud/Client Computing: This trend was on last year’s list as well but Gartner says the need to develop native apps in the cloud versus migrating existing apps is the current issue.

8. Software-Defined Applications and Infrastructure: In order to get to the agility new environments demand we cannot have hard codes and predefined networks, Cearly said. IT needs to be able construct dynamic relationships. Software Defined technologies help on that scale.

9. Web-Scale IT: This trend remains pretty much the same as last year. Gartner says Web-scale IT is a pattern of global-class computing technologies that that deliver the capabilities of large cloud service providers. The likes of Amazon, Google and others are re-inventing the way IT in which IT services can be delivered. Still requires a cultural IT shift to be successful.

10. Risk-Based Security and Self-protection: Cearly said all roads to the digital future success lead through security. Trends here include building applications that are self-protecting.

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