Taking stock of top 10 lists

Do Gartner's annual lists of top technologies hit the mark or miss the boat? We look back over the years to find out.

The consulting firm Gartner issues its list of the top 10 strategic technologies for the coming year each October, and has for the past five years. Viewing those lists side by side presents an interesting perspective on the issues that presumably have occupied CIOs during a given time period.

Gartner defines a strategic technology as one with the potential for making a significant impact in the next three years. That impact might include a high potential for disruption to IT or business operations, the need for a major dollar investment or the risks associated with being late to adopt the technology.

How well do Gartner’s priorities match those at your agency? Green IT, which appeared for three years in a row, dropped off as an agenda item starting in 2011. Interestingly, security appears only once in five years — in the form of activity monitoring on the 2010 list. Has security really become that routine?

On other fronts, cloud computing first appeared on the 2009 list and has held a spot every year since. No surprise there. And of course, all things Web have also made perennial appearances, from “mashup and composite apps” in 2008 to “contextual and social user experience” in 2012.

Interestingly, the one technology with the most endurance has been analytics (earlier called business process modeling or business intelligence), with an uninterrupted run of appearances starting in 2008. The devices, hardware, software and infrastructure that CIOs manage might constantly change, but the main reason for fussing with it all remains: improving how organizations operate through the automation and analysis of information. Everything else in IT is a means to that end.

Media tablets and beyond
Mobile-centric applications and interfaces
Contextual and social user experience
Internet of Things
App stores and marketplaces
Next-generation analytics
Big data
In-memory computing
Extreme low-energy servers
Cloud computing

Cloud computing
Mobile applications and media tablets
Social communications and collaboration
Next-generation analytics
Social analytics
Context-aware computing
Storage-class memory
Ubiquitous computing
Fabric-based infrastructure and computers

Cloud computing
Advanced analytics
Client computing
IT for green
Reshaping the data center
Social computing
Security: Activity monitoring
Flash memory
Virtualization for availability
Mobile applications

Cloud computing
Servers: Beyond blades
Web-oriented architectures
Enterprise mashups
Specialized systems
Social software and social networking
Unified communications
Business intelligence
Green IT

Green IT
Unified communications
Business process modeling
Metadata management
Virtualization 2.0
Mashup and composite apps
Web platform
Computing fabric
Real-world Web
Social software

Do you think the gurus at Gartner have missed anything over the years? Or perhaps made too much of a technology that wasn’t really as big a deal as they thought?

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