Twinterview: Gartner research VP Chris Howard

Cloud is a work in progress, mobility is king, and we are in for some fascinating real+virtual experiences.

Read time 3min 50sec
Chris Howard is a chief of research for Gartner's Enterprise Software group.
Chris Howard is a chief of research for Gartner's Enterprise Software group.

Gartner research VP Chris Howard spoke to ITWeb during a Twitter interview on Friday, when he revealed some of the top technology trends organisations should be aware of in 2014 and offered some strategic insight into how to benefit from these trends.

The Twinterview comes ahead of this year's Gartner Symposium, taking place in Cape Town from 16 to 18 September, where Howard will be speaking.

ITWeb: What will the top technology trends of 2014 be?

Howard: Top trends for 2014 include mobile, Internet of things, 3D printing, smart machines and massive scale IT. 2014 sees the continuation of cloud-related trends that impact IT, like personal cloud and hybrid IT.

ITWeb: What one trend, if you had to pick just one, should organisations be concentrating on in 2014?

Howard: Picking one trend is tough, because they all intersect, but let me try. Mobility is king. How to enable and engage with mobile people. That in turn drives innovation in info, cloud, social. Mobility also extends to the Internet of things, the pluggable world. We move around in realms of data.

ITWeb: How will the "Internet of things" start applying to business within the next year?

Howard: The Internet of things is affecting operations, in factories and similar, where machines are participating in their own maintenance. The world is programmable, the environment is the computer. This leads to fascinating real+virtual experiences and businesses are learning how to turn Internet of things experiences into profit.

ITWeb: What is the first step you'd recommend for organisations hoping to gain insight from big data?

Howard: Have a discussion about new questions you'd like to answer then determine the sources for the answers.

New answers and revenue opportunities may come from dark data: data that you collect but aren't using or can't access. Big data sources extend beyond the boundaries of traditional data. Sometimes the answers you seek come from outside. Often, businesses don't know that they can ask new questions of their data. We need to help open those doors for them.

ITWeb: Who, in your opinion, should be responsible for innovation within an organisation?

Howard: Everyone has a stake in innovation. It grows from within. Organisations should use new social tools to find ideas. Innovation needs room to grow without the pressure of delivery or ROI. Let ideas take root then develop the best ones. The likelihood of success of an innovation effort is inversely proportional to the amount of budget it receives.

ITWeb: What are some of the challenges still faced by organisations with regards to mobile technology?

Howard: Mobile challenges include protecting data on the device. There are lots of approaches and they must be based on user experience. Mobile app developers must choose the most appropriate target: OS, rich, HTML5. Best experience is still usually OS.

ITWeb: What are some of the ways you're seeing organisations overcoming these challenges?

Howard: Mobile challenges are overcome by deeply understanding users, context, and data classification. The best mobile experiences are contextual and "knowing", supporting the user in their actions with minimal instruction. Organisations need to combine mobile device and app management, appdev, data integration, security into a cohesive platform.

Gartner is watching the mobile platform market closely, and solutions are emerging.

ITWeb: Is cloud implementation still a concern for organisations or something most have overcome?

Howard: Cloud is a work in progress for most. It is maturing toward hybrid IT in which IT becomes a solution broker. Many organisations have started with private cloud; there's been some success but also some failure. New skills and better tools are needed. Gartner has found a lot of "re-labelling" instead of actual private cloud, eg, virtual environments, which are not the same as cloud.

Public cloud options are becoming more mature and more secure, but we are still in the opening chapters of a long story.

ITWeb: Thanks for your time Chris, is there anything else you'd like to add?

Howard: This is a really exciting time to be an IT professional: so many interesting problems to solve. Courage!

You can follow Chris Howard on Twitter: @chrishoward88
The hashtag for the Gartner Symposium is: #GartnerSym.

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