The Merging of Real and Virtual Worlds: Gartner IT Predictions Emerging in 2015

This blog will be the final part of the series examining IT trends, as predicted at the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo in Orlando back in 2014. Five months into the year, we have certainly seen the emergence of the themes that were predicted to have an impact in 2015, from web-scale IT to actionable intelligence.

According to David Cearley, vice president & Gartner Fellow, the merging of real and virtual worlds is another theme that, along with the ‘advent of intelligence everywhere' and ‘the technology impact of the digital business shift', cover the top 10 strategic technologies that organizations should not be ignoring in 2015.

What is merging the real and virtual world?

At the heart of the merger between real and virtual worlds are the ‘hotting up' technology trends of Computing Everywhere, IoT and Cloud Computing.

Smart phones already have a role to play in almost every area of our private and working lives, facilitating everyday tasks and activities by providing the information and data we need to do them. The rise in Computing Everywhere will see a continuing emphasis on serving the needs of the mobile user through new connected technologies.  The computing environment will expand to accommodate new forms of consumer electronics, connected screens and wearable devices that will enhance our real life everyday experiences and blur the boundaries between virtual and real life worlds.

Similarly, the Internet of Things, where any object can be given an IP address and presence on the internet capable of collecting and in some cases, acting on information is also set to rise — bringing with it a whole host of ‘everyday life changing' applications.  Intelligent shopping systems are just one such example: shoppers' purchasing habits can be monitored by tracking their mobile phones in store in order to offer tailored information on the location of items they might require or anticipate their needs with personalized offers.

Of course with so much additional data in circulation, applications enabled by these trends could not be used and optimized if it wasn't for Cloud Computing. IDC predicted in December 2014 that within the next five years, more than 90% of all IoT data will be hosted on service provider platforms as cloud computing reduces the complexity of supporting IoT “Data Blending”.

No network, no merger

While we gaze into the future and imagine all these exciting, ‘disruptive' new applications that the merged virtual/real world will bring, it is worth reflecting on the fact that underpinning all these technologies are the networks they rely on. In its December predictions, IDC also calculated that within three years, 50% of IT networks will transition from having excess capacity to handle the additional IoT devices to being network constrained with nearly 10% of sites being overwhelmed.

Companies will be under increasing pressure to ensure their Wide Area Networks (WANs) are prepared and ready to absorb new applications easily and quickly and at the same time guarantee that business-critical application traffic is not negatively impacted by the rise in these ‘new world' communications.

This merger of real and virtual worlds reminds me of when ‘e-business' became simply ‘business' and the differentiation between ‘electronic' and real life forms of business dissolved. The evolution towards these merging worlds has undeniably already begun and the signs show that in the near future we will see a greater movement towards these types of technologies — but that does depend of course on the ability of corporate networks that support them.

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