Gartner tags convergence of tech trends as linchpin to IT success

Mix of cloud, mobile, big data, social collaboration will be hallmark of future IT success, says Gartner analyst at Catalyst Conference

Enterprise IT should focus on the convergence of cloud , mobility, big data and social collaboration technologies if it wants to become an indispensible corporate asset.

"IT must be the service conductor, we can't afford to own and operate it all," said Drue Reeves, chief of research at Gartner, during the opening keynote Monday at the analyst company's four-day Catalyst Conference in San Diego.

While these four major technology trends are all having their own impact on corporate computing, the real strength is in the mix. Such a technology cocktail will ultimately provide a palette of future services that IT can offer to run and sustain corporate business, Reeves said.

"We have to think of IT as a factory," he said.  In this factory, technology goes in one end and services come out the other, and "in the middle IT adds value."

With this model, Reeves said the rise of Shadow IT is actually a gift. "It's the business telling IT what it wants. IT has to bring that into their services."

To showcase the point on convergence, Reeves brought to the stage Harper Reed, chief technology officer of the Obama for America 2012 re-election campaign.

"We were a broker, but more than that," said Reed, whose team of 40 engineers played a pivotal role in getting President Obama re-elected in 2012.

He said the success was based on four innovations, his team, the speed at which they moved, the use of metrics and data. He also relied heavily on cloud computing to implement strategies and dramatically lower costs.

"There was no line between technology and the rest of the business," Reed said. And he added that there was a clear understanding of technology's importance to the campaign.

Following Reed's story, Odell Tuttle, CTO of XRS, took the stage to explain how his company has revolutionized the trucking industry with technology and services.

"Convergence is a fundamental shift for us," he said "You have to be bold." For XRS, that meant cloud computing and mobile devices to collect data on everything from logging the hours trucks are in service to fuel taxes owed per state.

XRS uses a smartphone plugged into a diagnostic port in the trucks to replace a range of sensors hard-wired to each rig. "We use Amazon Web Services. We have scale to no end. We could not do that before," said Tuttle.

XRS collects six terabytes of information per truck, per year for up to five million vehicles, according to Tuttle.

Reeves concluded by saying that IT needs to converge technologies to alter the way businesses run.  "Start changing today," he said.