Cloud computing and social computing will be major issues for CIOs in 2010, with businesses set to relinquish control over some parts of their IT estate as the trends take hold, according to analyst group Gartner.
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Gartner vice-president Steve Prentice also pointed to the environment, "contextual" computing on mobile devices, and using data analytics to predict the future instead of looking back, as trends IT managers need to be aware of.
Speaking at the Intellect Regent Conference on technology and the economy, Prentice said technology "is not the silver bullet" that will bring the UK out of recession, but that the industry will continue to thrive this year as long it keeps in mind what customers want from IT. "Technology succeeds when it meets a need that people care about," he said.
While cloud computing is going to start taking a real hold in 2010 and 2011, Prentice said that it needs to be carefully planned. "Throwing technology at things does not solve problems."
He predicted that a fifth of businesses are likely to get rid of their IT infrastructure. "Not large businesses with datacentres, but small and medium companies and start-ups. Why build a datacentre when you could have access to someone else's?" Cloud computing may not be a new idea, but commentators say 2010 will be a turning point for the technology.
Houston Spencer, vice-president at Alcatel Lucent, said, "Enterprises always have to evolve their legacy applications. They cannot just decide to 'go cloud this year'. It will take a while, but the next couple of years will see a tipping point."
The details of how the environment will affect IT are still unclear, but Prentice predicted that by 2014 most IT business plans will have reference to the carbon dioxide produced by a project, and environmental concerns will be raised more often.
He said banning sites such as Facebook at work is "absurd". Employees and consumers have increasing levels of control over their own IT environments, he said, and if the company tries to control it they will find a way around it. "Facebook is the collaboration tool of choice for the next generation. Some companies worry that employees waste time on it, but people have always wasted time ever since work was invented. People also use the site as a work tool."
His final warning to the IT sector centred around mobile devices - where people are when they use one, why they use what they use, and what they might use next. "Perceptions of the value of mobile commerce or devices such as iPhones are woefully inadequate. People do not see it as a business opportunity."
Prentice expects the contextual data around someone's use of a mobile phone to be as influential to mobile services as search currently is to the web by 2015.