Analyst firm Gartner, Inc. has once again looked into its crystal ball and identified the 10 technologies and trends it feels will significantly affect the enterprise most in 2012. Gartner announced the top 10 list of strategic technologies at its Gartner Symposium/IT Expo that just concluded.

How Do You Know It’s Strategic?

Strategic is one of those words that, many times, means different things to different people. Strategy to some is just an elaborate plan that is unlikely to ever be implemented, but instead serves as point of inspiration (or source of mockery). Gartner defines a strategic technology as

one with the potential for significant impact on the enterprise in the next three years.”

According to Gartner, strategic technologies:

  • have high potential for disruption to IT or business
  • require significant capital investment
  • have high risk if adopted late

Let’s take a look at what Gartner’s analysts expect to be on the lips of technology leaders for months to come.

The Top Ten Strategic Technology List


Tablets aren’t just sexy toys for the consumer market. The further consumerization of technology will continue to move forward and companies will have to address this new form factor for employees, customers and partners. Organizations will have to consider their goals, how they will manage risk and of course how they will address implementation on the tools as part of their mobile efforts.

Mobile-Centric Applications, Interfaces

Users expect to be constantly connected and have access to everything anywhere they need it. To support these users, organizations must ensure that their information is easily consumable over all channels, not just the desktop. Mobile and touch application are introducing new user interface paradigms. Instead of standalone monolithic applications, the new application model is likely to be one of composition and assembly so that changing needs can be quickly addressed. In addition, new technology developments such as HTML5 will improve the ability of organization to better deliver cross-platform applications and reduce the need to write redundant native applications.

Contextual, Social User Experience

Social computing and developing deep relationships with users will continue to be a point of influence for technology projects. Gartner anticipates that understanding the end-user’s or object’s environment, activities, connections and preferences to improve the quality of interaction will become even more important for organizations to deliver.

Internet of Things

The internet has moved from the desktop to mobile and later it will be everywhere. The Internet of Things refers to growing trend of sensors and intelligence added to physical items such as consumer devices or physical assets and the connection of these to the Internet.

Organizations will have to determine if they can benefit from capabilities such as:

  • embedded sensors -- detect and communicate changes
  • image recognition
  • near field communication (NFC) payment -- already popular in Asia, NFC allows users to wave their phone to pay for goods

App Stores, Marketplaces

Gartner predicts there will be more than 70 billion mobile application downloads annually in the next 2 years. Users have gotten so accustomed to the “app store” concept that marketplaces will begin to play a more important role in the enterprise. This shift will put technology teams in a slightly different role -- they will no longer be planners and directors dictating what’s installed in many cases; they will instead be managers to govern the diverse new ecosystem.

Next-Generation Analytics

Analytics will continue to grow in importance, specifically in three areas: 

  • in-line embedded analytics
  • using large historical and near real-time stores of data to analyze trends and predict future events
  • incorporating more complex unstructured data into analysis

 Leaders will have to incorporate cloud computing to deal with the performance challenges and optimize efficiency so that users will be able to quickly find the answers they need for decision making.

Big Data

Data volume and complexity is growing at an astounding rate. Many of the traditional tools and techniques for  data management are not capable of dealing with the challenges of big data. Technologists will accelerate their use of new technologies such as NoSQL, the cloud and federated models to manage the new content environment.

In-Memory Computing

Gartner suggests that the next year will bring a large increase in the use of flash memory in consumer devices and embedded enterprise systems. Running existing applications in-memory or refactoring these applications to exploit in-memory approaches can result in improved transactional application performance and scalability, lower latency (less than one microsecond) application messaging, faster batch execution and faster response time in analytical applications. These are critical for modern, fast-moving organizations.

Extreme Low-Energy Servers

Technology is going more green. Gartner predicts that organizations will begin exploring low-power processors for applications that do not require intense computing capabilities. Low-Energy servers can reduce power consumption and possibly cost versus traditional servers.

Cloud Computing

Most organizations have moved beyond the exploratory face with the cloud and will focus on creating  cloud strategies that define where and how they will use the cloud, the need for public and hybrid clouds and how they secure, govern and manage the environment.

2011 has flown by, so analysts’ predictions will be pouring out of every white paper, blog and email for the next few months. It will be interesting to see how much they get correct.