Tablets, Social, Mobile, Cloud Computing to Top Gartner 2011 Tech List

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Tablets, Social, Mobile, Cloud Computing to Top Gartner 2011 Tech List

by Clint Boulton

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Tablets/Mobile Apps

Gartner says that by the end of 2010, 1.2 billion people will carry smartphone handsets such as Apple's iPhone or Android devices, as well as tablets such as Apple's iPad or Samsung Galaxy Tab that boast an "astounding amount of processing ability and bandwidth." Mobile apps that apply location, motion and other context in their behavior will further fuel device sales.

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Cloud Computing

Cloud computing is an airy euphemism for software and services hosted on a provider's hardware and provisioned to consumers over the Internet. Companies like and NetSuite have been building interest in cloud computing for more than a decade. But Google energized the cloud craze in 2007 with Google Apps, providing collaboration for businesses. Since then, Microsoft has come in strong in 2010 and has bigger plans in 2011 with its Office 365 suite.

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Social Communications and Collaboration

Gartner has a fairly broad definition for social communications and collaboration. It Includes social networking sites such as MySpace, Facebook and LinkedIn and social collaboration technologies such as wikis, blogs, instant messaging, collaborative office and crowd-sourcing systems offered by IBM, Jive Software and others. Social publishing via YouTube and social feedback on sites such as Amazon and Digg also weigh in here. Gartner predicts that by 2016, social technologies will be integrated with most business applications. But we at still see Facebook as the social network gorilla for consumers and business users alike.

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Social Analytics

Social analytics gauge interactions and associations among people, topics and ideas in the workplace. It's also effective in internally or externally facing communities or on the social Web. IBM expects to be a top player here in 2011.

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Next-Generation Analytics

Gartner believes increasing compute capabilities of computers, including mobile devices, along with improving connectivity are enabling a shift in how businesses support operational decisions. IBM and Oracle loom large here, but SAS is also a proven long-term player.

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Context-Aware Computing

This is bordering on the artificial intelligence Google and others are working toward. Context-aware computing comprises using information about an end user or object's environment, activities, connections and preferences to improve the interaction with that end user. Google's planned autonomous search engine comes to mind.

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Ubiquitous Computing

Gartner has been talking about this for years, but another way to describe this is as the Internet of Things, where computers are invisibly embedded into the world.

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The research firm says the glut of digital photography, consumer electronics, the Web, social software, unified communications, digital and Internet-based television, and mobile computing are all "reaching critical tipping points that bring video into the mainstream." Cisco's UMI telepresence service, pictured here, is one such example.

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Flash Memory

Gartner expects greater employment of flash memory in consumer devices, entertainment equipment and other IT systems.

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Fabric-Based Infrastructure and Computers

Modular computing allows a computing system to be aggregated from separate building-block modules connected over a fabric or switched backplane. It's not sexy, but it's efficient.

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