Top tech trends to watch in 2014

Gartner predicts further growth in employee utilization of mobile devices for work purposes.

Technology analysts at Gartner recently spotlighted the top strategic technology trends for organizations in 2014.

The technologies on Gartner's list are likely to have significant impact on business operations in the coming years, and WHIR stated that analysts opinions are in step with those of other important industry players. 

Gartner vice president David Cearley said certain factors will continue to be driving forces behind change and opportunities in 2014, and will establish further demand for an advanced programmable infrastructure. Cearley calls these factors the Nexus of Forces, which includes social, mobile, cloud and information.

"This does not necessarily mean adoption and investment in all of the listed technologies, but companies should look to make deliberate decisions about them during the next two years," Cearley said.

Mobile Devices
One trend Gartner included was the growing number of businesses and individuals utilizing mobile devices for work purposes. BYOD policies are poised to double or even triple the mobile workforce, which can put added stress on IT resources. Therefore, organizations should analyze networks and expand and update such systems where necessary.

Gartner also advised administrators to clearly outline what employees should not be doing with their devices while participating in such a policy. Additionally, the proliferation of numerous operating systems and physical devices makes it more important to adopt a software layered security approach. For instance, it may be helpful to implement encryption tools alongside Anti-Virus solutions to prevent data breaches and other cyberattacks. 

"Balance flexibility with confidentiality and privacy requirements," Gartner stated.

Applications
Gartner predicted continued growth for apps through next year, as well as shrinking applications.

"Apps are smaller, and more targeted, while a larger application is more comprehensive," Gartner stated.

In this way, Gartner advised app developers to expand user interface models which have the potential to connect individuals in new and different ways. Additionally, developers should link apps together to create a larger programs with more robust functionality.

Internet of Everything
Another trend to watch next year is the Internet of Everything, which refers to the fact that the Web is expanding to include previously disconnected devices, like field equipment, cars and televisions. The Internet of Things has four sections: People, things, information and places. Organizations can utilize four usage models – manage, monetize, operate and extend – to utilize and profit from increased data streams and services accessible through the Internet of Things. 

"Enterprises should not limit themselves to thinking that only the Internet of Things (i.e., assets and machines) has the potential to leverage these four models," Gartner stated. "Enterprises from all industries can leverage these four models."

Smart Machines
Gartner also sees an increase in smart machines through 2020, including intelligent personal assistants, smart advisors and autonomous vehicles. This trend will shift the nature of the technology industry.

"New systems that begin to fulfill some of the earliest visions for what information technologies might accomplish – doing what we thought only people could do and machines could not – are now finally emerging," Gartner stated.

Enterprises and consumers will both drive this trend further, and Gartner predicted increased consumerization after businesses buy the first models of these smart machines.

3-D printing
3-D printing has been the focus of much consumer hype, and  this attention has increased knowledge of the specifics surrounding this technology, including the fact that it is viable and cost effective. Furthermore, according to WHIR, this trend has the potential to not only affect those within the technology industry, but consumers outside of this sector as well. 

Gartner predicted worldwide shipments of 3-D printers will increase 75 percent in 2014, and that number is expected to double by 2015. As the technology's maturity grows, it will be driven less by industry hype and more by the value it provides.

Matt Williams

A self-proclaimed ‘tech geek’, Matt has worked in technology for a decade and divides his time between blogging and working in IT. A huge New York Giants fan, when not watching football Matt gets his game on playing Call of Duty with his friends and other tech bloggers.