The Gartner Executive Programs report "Reimagining IT: The 2011 CIO Agenda," an annual survey of the technology priorities of chief information officers (CIOs), is one of many useful guides on the emerging technologies that are important for business. Although these technologies often move into the mainstream, organizations are beginning to find new ways to use emerging technologies in information technology (IT).
The Gartner survey suggests that cloud computing could change the way CIOs manage their operations. By renting processing or storage capacity from service providers with massive external servers, CIOs eliminate the cost of purchasing and supporting additional in-house servers. Cloud computing also releases some of an organization’s existing infrastructure, freeing it for projects focused on innovation and growth, rather than day-to-day operations. Renting software that users can access online rather than installing it on their PCs or laptops reduces purchasing, support and upgrade costs. Gartner comments that CIOs can use cloud to create and realize new sources of value, as well as achieving cost-effective IT operations.
Although cloud computing gives organizations immediate access to unlimited processing and storage power when they need to scale up their operations, the applications to fully exploit cloud have not yet caught up. Erica Naone, writing in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) “Technology Review,” lists cloud programming as one of its key emerging technologies. Currently, developers are converting existing programs to run on cloud, rather than creating new types of applications that could only work in the cloud environment, says the author.
The launch of increasingly-powerful tablet PCs and smartphones is making mobile working a strong emerging trend. As IT managers develop enterprise-strength security solutions for these devices, organizations are allowing employees to use them to access corporate data and applications. In the MIT “Technology Review,” Nicholas Carr described how smartphones are beginning to feature 3-D imagery. Special software converts images from 2-D and allows users to view them without needing special glasses.
Social-media networks such as Facebook and Twitter are well established in the consumer sector. These networks are now emerging as powerful business tools for applications such as marketing, customer-relationship management, collaboration, recruitment and product development.
The sheer volume of data from social media is creating a challenge for search-engine providers and users. Data from social networks, blogs and news feeds can provide useful information for companies, helping identify and monitor trends and attitudes. The problem is how to categorize and rank that information while it remains fresh and useful. Developers are working on real-time search techniques to overcome that challenge and make social media useful for research.
The search for greater business insight from the vast amount of available data is generating interest in analytics, which consultancy firm Accenture lists as one of its key emerging technologies. Cloud computing gives organizations the ability to collect, store and distribute greater volumes of data. Using analytics will enable organizations to differentiate themselves by creating more value from that data. Analytics help organizations build a more detailed understanding of customer needs, enabling them to develop customer-focused solutions and improve the precision of marketing communications. That ability can accelerate revenue growth and improve profitability.