Garter, Inc analysts highlighted the top ten planetbesttech strategic technologies and trends for 2008. Gartner defines a strategic technology as one with potential for significant impact on enterprise in the next three years. Take a few moments to get familiar with the definitions of technology trends that will impact your business.

1. Green IT

According to the Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition, e-waste is the fastest-growing part of the waste stream, and the Environmental Protection Agency estimates e-waste accounts for 2 percent of the municipal solid waste stream in the United States. More than 1,000 chemicals are used during electronics production, such as lead, mercury, and cadmium. In addition to manufacturing materials, going green means focus on power consumption.

IT departments spent 17 cents per dollar to power and cool servers in 1996. Ten years later, by September 2006, IT departments were spending 48 cents per dollar to power and cool servers, according to IDC research. IDC predicts that this cost will grow to 78 cents per dollar by 2010. The focus on green is as much about cost reduction as it is about the environment.

The Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition estimates that there are 500 obsolete computers in the United States, and 130 million cell phones thrown away every year. It is no wonder that e-waste and Green IT are topping the charts as the primary initiative for technology and trends in 2008.

According to IDC, over 50% of customers consider a vendor’s green initiatives and capabilities when selecting a supplier. One third of customers already consider it very important that suppliers have “green offerings”. 80% of Executives say that e-waste and Green IT is growing in importance as an initiative in their organization. The number one (#1) driver for Green IT adoption is economic, to reduce operational costs.

What company is setting the pace with Green IT initiatives? ZSL Inc

2. Unified Communications

20% of the installed based with PBX has already migrated to IP telephony, and more than 80% are already conducting trials and preparing for the most significant shift in telephony since the adoption of cell phones. Voice over Internet Protocol, VoIP, is also known as IP Telephony, Broadband Telephony, and Voice over Broadband.

A rose by any other name, the appeal for low cost is what smells so sweet. A single network can carry voice, data, video, and mobile applications on fixed and mobile networks. Get ready to rethink networks as completely integrated communication of voice, video, and data. You will be surfing the Internet, accessing data, and sharing video on your cell phone. You will be making international calls from your notebook computer. Hardware is interchangeable, it is just a matter of the adoption rate for new technology.

What company is setting the pace with unified communications? Cisco.

3. Business Process Modeling

Business Process Modeling is the structured comparison of how things really work, how we want them to work, similar processes with measured results, and planning to move from current state to future state. In IT, business processing modeling requires system and application architects to work with programmers, designers, and analysts to coordinate the design theory, the development, and the institutionalizing of the systems and applications. In other words, the individuals who design the systems and applications will work with the people who build it, and with the ones who fix the bugs.

In some environments the collaboration of architects, developers, and analysts is already accepted as common practice. However, it is uncommon enough to actually make the top ten list of future trends for the next three years. “The beauty and the curse of system architects and programmers is that they are just like the applications that they design based on your specifications. They do exactly what you tell them to do,” said John Mehrmann, “so you better make sure that it is exactly what you want them to do.”

4. Metadata Management

Metadata management is critical to a information infrastructure, it is the relationship and usage of data. There are three primary segments of data in Enterprise Information Management (EIM) strategy. These three segments are customer data integration, product information management, and product management.

Metadata management is less of a technical challenge and more of an organizational process. Simply defined, metadata management uses data from complex structured data sources and databases to create models (schemas) and mappings. Import data to rapidly identify patterns, commonalities, differentiators, and create models. Use design patterns, solution templates, and operators to simplify development of metadata applications.

How is metadata being used today? Metadata captures customer registration to model buying habits, returns, peripheral purchases, and warranty extensions. Metadata is used to track warranty failures, customer contact through multiple channels that include call center and service, and it can be used to selectively offer marketing materials and sales incentives.

What company is setting the pace with metadata management? SAS

5. Virtualization 2.0

Virtualization technologies are infrastructure improvement enablers to improve IT resource utilization and increase flexibility. Automation technologies can improve resource efficiency and automate flexibility based on requirements and services managed holistically, with high levels of resiliency. IT resources adapt automatically to changing workloads and reduce cost. Expect to hear more about virtualization as technologies and trends impact the holy grail of Green IT, better management of resources, and lower costs.

6. Mashup & Composite Apps

Composite Applications are the assembly of existing components in IT with Web based applications, typically using older generation program language languages and developed by professional programmers. On the other hand, mashups are remarkably simple and basic infusion of web services with browser-side java, to connect things together.

Mashups simply gather existing data from multiple web resources to either present the data together, assemble and calculate the information to create new data, or create new functionality. Mashups are small pieces of data, loosely joined. There are five types of mashups:

i. Presentation Mashup gathers data from multiple sources and lists the data together.

ii. Client-side Data Mashup gathers data from remote web sites or data feeds and processes the data in a client database or application to analyze it or create a new result.

iii. Client-side Software Mashup uses code in the client side web browser to create distinct new capabilities for gathering and utilizing data captured through the browser.

iv Server-side Software Mashup is already very common as evident by the thousands of open Web APIs currently available. The server collects data from the client.

v. Server-side Data Mashup is the linking and connecting of data between servers. It is already very common to share data between servers and databases, but the fascinating new trend is that this type of data collection and manipulation is happening at a much higher level.

As client-side applications enable users to access data with web browsers and to mashup data without professional programmers, the evolution changes from how to gather diverse data into how to compare, analyze, and use the data. Once immediate access to mashup data from diverse web resources becomes commonplace, metadata management becomes even more crucial to identify trends, recognize commonalities, and develop predictive applications for accurate forecasts and customer-centric customization.

What company is setting the pace with mashup & composite apps? Google

7. Web Platform & WOA

Emerging web applications provide Software as a Service (SaaS) as a viable option to access infrastructure services, information, applications, and business processes though simple and easy to use web browsers. The web based “cloud computing” environments may access a single source for data, applications, or resources for client queries and reporting.

However, as metadata management and mashups become more sophisticated and commonplace, web platform Software as a Service will increasingly enable the recombination of data from multiple data sources, applications, and resources. This evolution enables real time data collection, comparison, analysis, application and resource allocation through web portals, reducing direct data or service connectivity, and allowing significantly greater user flexibility.

What company is setting the pace with Web Platform, API, and Software as a Service initiatives? Amazon

8. Computing Fabric

In the evolution of servers as storage devices, we witnessed the progression of big iron from tape drives to hard drives, and the management of all data on one drive to storing data on an array of drives as a means to expand storage and recover from catastrophic failure. In other words, multiple devices shared access and resources to store data. This concept evolved into blade servers, enabling the networking of multiple efficient devices.

The next evolution of the computing fabric is the introduction of technology to treat the network of blade servers as the sum of the components from each of the blades. Rather than manage each blade server as a whole device, the new technology will treat memory, processors, I/O cards and components as a pool of resources, combining and recombining these resources as necessary to appear as an operating system on a fixed single server.

Managing the computing fabric will take the smallest measurable pieces of the networked hardware and recombine resources to achieve Green IT low cost power consumption, better use of hardware resources, and treat hardware combinations in much the same way that mashups converge diverse small pieces of data into single serving results on demand.

9. Real World Web

The term real world web refers to enabling information applicable to a particular location, activity, or context relevant to the real world. Unlike virtual worlds that can be created and manipulated for a particular purpose or entertainment, real world web is intended to augment reality with real-time and real world situations. GPS Navigation, for example, can provide real time directions that react to movement and direction. Airline updates, for example, can alert a user to on-time availability or delays associated with flight departures or arrivals.

Now imagine that you have a flight to another city, real time traffic updates and GPS to bypass congestion, and this schedule is mashed up with web based reservations at a preferred restaurant to entertain a valued customer. Your reservation could be automatically adjusted to accommodate flight or traffic delays.

The restaurant would be automatically alerted to the change in schedule and may adjust seating accordingly. The GPS may provide alternative routes to avoid heavy congestion or accidents. The value customer would receive a web based calendar alert to unexpected flight delays, enabling your valued customer to occupy time with other important tasks while you are still in flight. The directions, navigation, reservations, and customer clients updates can be managed automatically with real world web.

Another use for real world web integrates posted gasoline prices with GPS navigation devices. This enables the user to identify and select from gas stations with lower posted prices using the real world web.

What company is setting the pace for delivering Real World Web applications? Microsoft

10. Social Software

The term social software is typically associated with a wide range of web applications that enable users to interact and share with other users. YouTube, MySpace, and LinkedIn are some examples of social sites. Social software typically facilitates a more egalitarian community development in which membership is voluntary, reputation is earned by winning the trust of other members, and the mission and governance of the community is defined by the members of the community. Social software reflects the asymmetrical traits of social networks, and a mutual link between users. You can choose to accept or not accept content or connections.

Social software and social networks are evolving at an astounding pace, and are as diverse as human interests. Social networks exist for business, career guidance or changes, on line gaming, common interests, entertainment, hobbies, staying in touch with contacts, and meeting new people.

What companies are setting the pace with Social Software? YouTube, MySpace, and LinkedIn


So what is happening? There is so much data, information, applications, and individual contact available through web connections that it has become necessary to break things down into the smallest components and categorize these components in such a way as to maximize efficiency, access, collaboration, recombination, and real time application.

Green IT seeks to identify the components of hardware and resources to maximize efficiency, reduce e-waste, and reduce power consumption. Unified communications is breaking down data, voice, and video into streams that can be shared by mobile and web based devices. Business Process Models organize the small bits of data, applications, and resources to design future architecture and integrate analytics are users and clients become a part of the development process.

Metadata management identifies commonalities and creates smaller models to organize the data. Mashups take these diverse pieces of data and present them or process them in a manner that produces a new understanding or result. Web platforms and Software as a Service empower mashups and data access. Virtualization 2.0 and Computing Fabric apply the same concepts to the hardware that store, access, and serve up this data, voice, and video. Real World Web integrates all of this with our environment and surroundings. Social software makes individuals a part of the process, identifying and connecting smaller pieces of personal interests with individuals that share similar experiences or interests.

The trend for the next three years is to break down data, voice, video, applications, hardware, and individual interests into the smallest denominators and then to identify and recombine based them on user defined requirements and commonalities.

Companies should factor these technologies into their strategic planning process by asking key questions and making deliberate decisions about them during the next two years,” said David Cearley, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner. “Sometimes the decision will be to do nothing with a particular technology. In other cases it will be to continue investing in the technology at the current rate. In still other cases, the decision may be to test/pilot or more aggressively adopt/deploy the technology. The important thing is to ask the question and proactively plan.”

Words of Wisdom

“Where a calculator on the ENIAC is equipped with 18,000 vacuum tubes and weighs 30 tons, computers in the future may have only 1,000 vacuum tubes and perhaps weigh 1.5 tons.”
– Popular Mechanics, March 1949

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”
– Arthur C. Clarke

“Technology is dominated by two types of people: those who understand what they do not manage, and those who manage what they do not understand.”
– Putt’s Law

“Computers make it easier to do a lot of things, but most of the things they make it easier to do don’t need to be done.”
– Andy Rooney

John Mehrmann is a freelance author and President of Executive Blueprints Inc., an organization devoted to improving business practices and developing human capital.

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