Gartner’s Strategic Technologies for 2011


Earlier this week at the Gartner Symposium / ITxpo, Gartner presented their list of strategic technologies for 2011.  Four of the ten technologies fit squarely in the social technologies and business analytics space covered by this Blog.

Gartner calls the first of the four technologies Social Communications and Collaboration.  I like how they divide social media into four high level categories:

  1. Social networking — they describe this category as social profile management (FaceBook, MySpace, LinkedIn, etc.) and social networking analysis (SNA) products. In this case SNA refers to technologies that analyze human relationships for the discovery of people and expertise.
  2. Social collaboration — Gartner defines this category as technologies that enable collaboration, such as wikis, blogs, instant messaging, collaborative office, and crowd sourcing.
  3. Social publishing — here, Gartner sees technologies that assist communities in pooling individual content into a usable and community accessible content repository such as YouTube and Flickr.
  4. Social feedback – Gartner views social feedback as capturing the opinion of a community on specific items as witnessed on YouTube, Flickr, Digg, Del.icio.us, and Amazon.  

Gartner supports my belief that social technologies will be integrated with most business applications and predicts this will occur by 2016. I believe they are spot on in recommending that companies bring together their social CRM, internal communications and collaboration, and public social initiatives into a coordinated strategy.

The second relevant strategic technology is Next Generation Analytics. There are so many terms being used to describe advanced analytic capabilities – and here is a new one. At the end of the day, they all describe the same thing: the shift away from rear-view mirror reporting, toward forward looking analysis that better supports operational decision making. As Gartner describes, it is possible to run simulations or models to predict future outcomes. These capabilities are possible in real-time and can support each individual business action. With so much data available from many channels and sensors, companies will find it hard to ignore the use of advanced analytics – and do so at their own risk.

The next relevant technology on Gartner’s strategic list is Social Analytics. In their view, social analytics describes the process of measuring, analyzing and interpreting the results of interactions and associations among people, topics and ideas. They place a number of specialized analysis techniques such as social filtering, social-network analysis, sentiment analysis and social-media analytics into this category.

On a side note, I see the potential for market confusion as people try to interpret and understand all of the terms used to describe social intelligence. For example, in describing these four strategic technologies alone, Gartner has used the terms: social feedback, social networking analysis, social network analysis, social analytics, social filtering, sentiment analysis, and social media analytics. I believe the simplest way to view the analytic side of the social technology landscape is through a broad category called social intelligence. These other specific uses of analytics are all intended to provide intelligence and insight from all social communication and collaboration. 

The last relevant strategic technology is Context-Aware Computing. The term “context” will be used frequently in the coming years. From the search experience, to data management, the semantic web and beyond, context is the key to managing an ever expanding universe of data. Gartner defines context-aware computing as the use of information about an end users environment, activities, connections and preferences to improve the quality of interaction with that end user. In their view, a contextually aware system anticipates the user’s needs and proactively serves up the most appropriate and customized content, product or service. This Context-Aware Computing article provides more information on the topic if you are interested.

A recurring theme is emerging. Strategic technologies and the role of IT are on a collision course with customers and revenue generation. In my opinion, social technology and advanced analytics are at the heart of future revenue generation strategies.

Gartner makes predictions about the prospects of all ten strategic technologies in their Strategic Technologies for 2011 announcement.

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