Open source, Apple computers, green technology, the rise of users and the proliferation of three-dimensional printing are among the hot trends IT shops should look out for in the next few years, according to Gartner.
The analyst firm on Thursday highlighted 10 key predictions of developments that will affect IT and business users in 2008 and beyond. Here's a detailed look at the list, culled from more than 100 predictions Gartner has made based on its research:
-- Apple will double its market share for computers in the United States and Western Europe by 2011. "Apple's gains in computer market share reflect as much on the failures of the rest of the industry as on Apple's success," Gartner says. A focus on interoperability between the iPod, iMac and other devices is one of the keys for Apple.
--By 2012, half of all workers will use devices other than their laptops when they travel. "Even though notebooks continue to shrink in size and weight, traveling workers lament the weight and inconvenience of carrying them on their trips," Gartner states. "Vendors are developing solutions to address these concerns: new classes of Internet-centric pocketable devices at the sub-US$400 level; and server and Web-based applications that can be accessed from anywhere."
--80% of commercial software will contain open source code by 2012, providing "significant opportunities for vendors and users to lower their total cost of ownership and increase returns on investment."
--Software-as-a-service will account for at least one-third of business application spending by 2012. "Endorsed and promoted by all leading business applications vendors (Oracle, SAP, Microsoft) and many Web technology leaders (Google, Amazon), the SaaS model of deployment and distribution of software services will enjoy steady growth in mainstream use during the next five years," Gartner writes.
--IT infrastructure will follow the software-as-a-service wave, with early technology adopters purchasing 40% of their infrastructure as a service by 2011. "Increased high-speed bandwidth makes it practical to locate infrastructure at other sites and still receive the same response times," Gartner notes.
--Environmental concerns will affect many more IT buying decisions. "By 2009, more than one third of IT organizations will have one or more environmental criteria in their top six buying criteria for IT-related goods," Gartner says.
-- By 2010, three-quarters of IT shops won't buy PC hardware unless it meets standards for lower carbon emissions and "full life-cycle energy" usage. Technology providers are only now beginning to analyze their products' full life-cycle energy usage, but within two years enterprises will be able to use the information to inform purchasing decisions, Gartner predicts.
-- By 2011, large global enterprises will require suppliers to prove their "green credentials" via an audited process. Already, "Timberland has launched a "Green Index" environmental rating for its shoes and boots [and] Home Depot is working on evaluation and audit criteria for assessing supplier submissions for its new EcoOptions product line."
-- By 2010, the preferences of users will dictate as many as half of the purchasing decisions made by IT. Because Internet browsers have made computing more approachable, "IT organizations are addressing user concerns through planning for a global class of computing that incorporates user decisions in risk analysis and innovation of business strategy," Gartner says.
-- 3-D printers will spread through homes and businesses. This emerging "technology lets users send a file of a 3-D design to a printer-like device that will carve the design out of a block of resin," Gartner says.
"A manufacturer can make scale models of new product designs without the expense of model makers. Or consumers can have models of the avatars they use online."
These printers will be available for less than $10,000 this year, a hefty sum, but Gartner predicts that by 2011 the number of 3-D printers in homes and businesses will be 100 times greater than it was in 2006.