The top strategic technology in Gartner Inc.'s annual top 10 list was cloud computing, but the one that may have been of the most interest to Bill Piatt, the CIO of the International Finance Corp., was last on the list, and that's mobile applications.
About 60% of the ICF's staff, which is part of the World Bank, is based overseas, mostly in emerging markets, and "the only thing that works reliably in emerging markets is cell phones," Piatt said.
Piatt's IT staff has been working to bring the Washington-based IFC's core business applications either to cell phones or to deliver the applications, such as SAP's, to the phones, "so that our workforce can be productive wherever they are on the planet."
Piatt was at Gartner's user conference, Symposium/ITxpo, to find out where mobile technology was heading, and according to Carl Claunch, an analyst at the research firm, the processing power and storage capability of mobile devices is getting large enough "to make some reasonably meaty applications for them."
What is helping mobile applications are chip makers that are developing processors that look like the PC processors "of just a few years back," Claunch said. There is increasing potential to create an environment on cell phones to allow an enormous pool of PC applications on a smart phone, he said.
In the No. 2 spot, was advanced analytics, which is also being helped along by increases in processing power. It involves giving businesses the ability to model every single action and create models. In security, for example, that may mean looking at patterns and detecting fraud as it happens.
The remaining technologies to round out the list are:
- Client computing, which is being reshaped by virtualization, cloud and new models that provide employees with a stipend for purchasing their own system, who can then access business applications through a virtualized, separate environment.
- Green IT, which encompasses anything that reduces the data footprint.
- Reshaping the data center, with new designs and approaches that include building out incrementally in pod-based approaches, adding only power, chillers and generators to support initial needs.
- Social computing, such as Facebook and others.
- User activity monitoring, which is getting harder with increasingly targeted attacks and complications posed by the cloud.
- Flash memory, which offers speed, ruggedness and uses less energy than rotating disks. It costs more than a disk drive, but the pricing gap is narrowing.
- Virtualization for availability. VMware calls it VMotion, and Microsoft, Live Migration for high availability.
- Mobile applications, which was new to this year's list, as was flash memory, activity monitoring, reshaping the data center and client computing.