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Cloud, Social Computing Lead Gartner's Top 10

Which applications and strategies will lead IT spending into the new decade? Research firm Gartner offered its own take with the unveiling today of its Top 10 list of technologies and trends for 2010 a its Gartner Symposium/ITxpo in Orlando, Fla.

Gartner defined a strategic technology as one with the potential for significant impact -- meaning it will require substantial financial investment, has a high potential to disrupt the business or puts the organization at risk if it's late to adopt -- in the next three years.

"Companies should factor the top 10 technologies into their strategic planning process by asking key questions and making deliberate decisions about them during the next two years," Gartner analyst David Cearley said in a statement. "However, this does not necessarily mean adoption and investment in all of the technologies."

"They should determine which technologies will help and transform their individual business initiatives," he added.

Not surprisingly, cloud computing was atop the short list for 2010.

As enterprise customers continue to embrace the on-demand model for everything from customer relationship management (CRM) applications to e-mail security and data storage, top-tier vendors are racing to build or acquire the best Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) applications suites.

Gartner analysts said that while cloud computing does rearrange some IT budgets and reduce others, it doesn't eliminate all of the costs associated with building a data-rich enterprise network. Also, enterprises that opt for cloud-based models will themselves act as cloud providers and deliver application, information or business process services to customers and business partner.

Social computing and social media, the fast-growing and most controversial enterprise IT component, will continue to challenge both the sanity and security of enterprise data networks.

The popularity of social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter have fundamentally changed the way people communicate within their company and with external partners, vendors and customers.

"Workers do not want two distinct environments to support their work -- one for their own work products (whether personal or group) and another for accessing 'external' information," Gartner said. "Enterprises must focus both on use of social software and social media in the enterprise and participation and integration with externally facing enterprise-sponsored and public communities. Do not ignore the role of the social profile to bring communities together."

Green IT, Mobile Apps and Virtualization

The rest of Gartner's Top 10 for 2010 includes:

Advanced Analytics: The new step is to provide simulation, prediction, optimization and other business intelligence to improve decision making at every business process action.

Client Computing: Gartner advises clients to build a five- to eight-year strategic client computing roadmap outlining an approach to device standards, ownership and support, operating system and application selection as well as management and security plans to manage diversity in their enterprise networks.

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