Mobility, cloud – both personal and hybrid – and app stores are among the technologies that will have the biggest impact on IT in 2013.

In his session at Gartner Symposium 2012 today, “Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2013,” VP and Gartner Fellow David Cearley painted a picture that was distinctly cloudy, with lots of rapidly moving parts. Here is the entire list, which he says is in rough order of impact:

  1. Mobile device battles
  2. Mobile applications and HTML 5
  3. Personal Cloud
  4. Internet of Things
  5. Hybrid IT & Cloud Computing
  6. Strategic Big Data
  7. Actionable Analytics
  8. Mainstream In-memory Computing
  9. Integrated Ecosystems
  10. Enterprise App Stores

Among Cearley’s more interesting observations was his apparent confidence that Microsoft will make a splash in the mobile device market, despite being late to the game. Certainly this wouldn’t be the first time Microsoft was late to the party but did just fine (web browsers leap to mind). “Windows 8 puts Microsoft in the game in this new world in a big way,” he said. Ultimately he expects Microsoft to gain about a 20% share in the mobile world – if Windows 8 turns out to be sufficiently consumer-friendly.

With respect to mobile devices, though, his larger point was that no one device will dominate. Rather, IT needs to expect heterogeneity and have a model for how to approach it, in terms of applying mobile device management tools and policies. Sound advice.

Coming up with effective applications to run on those devices will require new ways of thinking about application design and new design skills around touch-based interfaces. It also requires rethinking application architectures because we’re essentially replacing the client/server architecture with the cloud/client architecture, Cearley said. Whatever data lives on a device is controlled and managed by the cloud service, whether that service is public or private.  Another interesting takeaway.

Cearley also made a compelling case for enterprise app stores being about more than just mobile applications. He called app stores an “anchor point” where users get access to all sorts of enterprise and cloud-based applications, not just mobile apps. They will be strategic for governing cloud and mobile use, ensuring users run only the applications a company wants them to, much the way the Apple AppStore does for iPhone users. The key is to create a positive user experience, such as by borrowing social features like comments so users can see what others think of various apps.

With respect to cloud computing, Cearley says IT should expect to employ a hybrid model of public and private services. Increasingly, IT should be playing the role of a cloud services brokerage (CSB) that assumes responsibility for the successful end-to-end delivery of cloud services. Assuming the CSB role will be one of the most strategic initiatives for IT over the next few years, he said. It’s a way for IT to retain and build influence inside the organization, rather than letting business units run wild, securing whatever cloud services they may want – irrespective of larger enterprise goals and initiatives. Once again, a valid point.

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