Multicore processors, cloud computing, user interfaces, social networks/social software and Web mashups top a list of 10 "disruptive technologies'' set to reshape the IT landscape between 2008 and 2012, according to Gartner analysts David Cearley and Carl Claunch.
The remaining five are ubiquitous computing, contextual computing, augmented reality, semantics and virtualisation.
Multicore processors are providing new advances, but single-threaded applications won't be able to take advantage of their power, the analysts say. "A single-thread application may drive an eight-core system to only 12.5% utilisation, as it can use only one-eighth of the available cores," they wrote in a note made available before they gave a presentation at a Gartner conference.
Organisations should therefore identify applications "that will need remediation to continue to meet service-level requirements in the multicore era", they wrote.
The leader of the list's second half — ubiquitous computing — will also gain traction in the next several years, according to the analysts.
"The work of Mark Weiser and other researchers at Xerox's PARC painted a picture 20 years ago of the coming third wave of computing — one where computers surround us, yet are invisibly embedded into our environment," they write. "The vision of the third wave is the relegation of computers to hidden roles, exposing only enough technology to fit the need. Computers in cars are hidden behind steering wheels and simple buttons; in the future, most computers will be equally transparent."
This trend will be powered by a combination of means, such as radio frequency identification (RFID) tags, portable and widely accessible data, and accompanying advances in networking technologies, the analysts predict.
The analysts also said:
-- By 2010, web mashups "will be the dominant model (80%) for the creation of composite enterprise applications."
-- "The concepts, language and technologies of consumer social software will become part of mainstream workplace technology vendors by 2010."
-- By 2010, It will cost less than a dollar to add a three-axis accelerometer — which allows a device, such as Nintendo's Wii controller, to sense when and how it is being moved — to a piece of electronic equipment. "
Acceleration and attitude (tilt) can be combined with technologies such as wireless to perform functions such as 'touch to exchange business cards,'" the analysts offer as an example of how the technology could be applied in the future.