Gear up for 2015: Gartner predicts its Top 10

As we move into the fourth quarter of 2014, it’s getting to be about that time to look into the future and start planning for the next year’s priorities. Research firm Gartner is getting a bit of a jump on things by predicting what the biggest tech trends of 2015 will be.

The predictions were announced at the annual Symposium and IT Expo.

Big on the list for 2015 is the Internet of Things (or The Internet of Everything, Connected Devices, or whatever buzzword will become the norm). Cloud will also remain predictably huge.

Gartner’s Top 10

Get ready for:

  1. Computing everywhere. With an increase in screens of all shapes and sizes, the lines between the offline and online worlds are becoming increasingly blurred. Some of these devices will be IT’s responsibilities. Some will be IT’s concerns, but lie outside of their responsibility and control.
  2. Internet of Things (IoT). Much like the first point, connected devices will be all over the workplace (and world) in the future. While the focus is generally on securing and patching these devices, Gartner analyst David Cearly emphasized using these devices and sensors as a means to move business forward.
  3. 3-D printing. A cool idea full of inspiring promise. Probably not a game-changer or priority for 99% of readers just yet.
  4. Advanced, pervasive invisible analytics. Big Data is moving beyond the idea of collecting every available piece of information and shifting toward figuring out what to do with it. Automated analysis of data collected is the development business has been hoping for.
  5. Context-rich systems. Based on users’ past interactions, this area looks to figure out what they need before they even ask for it. Think Google now or Siri reaching their full potential.
  6. Smart machines. Rather than connecting devices to the internet, these machines will be designed to run mostly autonomously. An example: self-driving delivery trucks.
  7. Cloud and client computing. One could argue that this is already the top tech trend. But it will grow exponentially, and companies should be ready for that new reality.
  8. Software-defined applications and infrastructure. IT will essentially need to rely on software and apps to a greater degree than ever before. It’s not about building your infrastructure, it’s stacking multiple apps on and making them work in harmony.
  9. Web-scale IT. As ComputerWorld’s Patrick Thibodeau puts it, “This is akin to adopting some of the models used by large cloud providers, including their risk-embracing culture and collaborative alignments.”
  10. Security. It had to be on the list somewhere. More on that later.

Defining your priorities

While Gartner addresses the industry as a whole, IT should be thinking ahead to the coming year on a micro, not a macro level. For many companies, the solution to IoT worries might simply be the early approach to BYOD: Not in our shop.

But even if next-generation technology isn’t on the table for your organization, setting priorities for the coming year should be. Here are four areas you may want to focus on:

  • Boosting IT’s influence. Getting IT into the decision-making process is beneficial in a number of ways. It can help bolster budgets and dictate which projects you can take on successfully. Likewise, getting the top brass on board with IT initiatives can be a huge boost to your department’s efficiency. Which brings us to …
  • Improving efficiency. Simply put, IT’s being stretched further than ever. Struggling to keep up isn’t an option, so look for ways to streamline processes and get your team on the same page.
  • Focus on budgets. IT budgets have remained stagnant or shown minimal growth for years. But the amount you need to do hasn’t. Make sure you outline how much you’ll need for your department’s operations and highlight what trade-offs might have to be made.
  • Securing everything. Security deserves more than one spot on a Top 10 list. Design an overall security program from the ground up that addresses everything from securing systems and applications to providing specific approaches for each level of the organization, from users to management.