Gartner Lists Top 7 Grand IT Challenges

Gartner has came out with a list of Grand IT Challenges, which the research firm defined as fundamental IT challenges that, if overcome, will have “broad and extremely beneficial economic, scientific or societal effects on all aspects of our lives.”


Making predictions is always tough, especially in a field as fast moving as information technology. But CIOs and other IT execs are wise to keep one eye peering into the future.

“IT leaders should always be looking ahead for the emerging technologies that will have a dramatic impact on their business, and information on many of these future innovations are already in some public domain,” said Gartner vice president and fellow Ken McGee in a statement released with the list. “There are technologies on the horizon that will completely transform your business.”

Indeed, looking over the list, there just may be.

The seven IT Grand Challenges are as follows:

Technologies that eliminate the need to manually recharge devices. “Today, the ubiquity of portable computing and communications devices powered by battery means that many people would find it highly desirable to either have their batteries charged remotely or their devices powered by a remote source, bypassing the use of batteries altogether,” Gartner said. But the research firm was clear that any solution here “still seems a long way off.”


Parallel programming. “Simulations, entertainment and massive data mining would all benefit from parallel computing advances, Gartner said. However, the challenge here is developing applications that take advantage of the architecture, such as by parsing computing problems into smaller individual problems that can be addressed by individual processors.


A non-tactile, natural computing interface. “ Computer users have long wanted to interact with their machines without a mechanical interface, but the ability to detect gestures and process input in real-time remain challenges, according to the researcher.


Automated speech translation. “Some rudimentary systems have been developed, but progress is still needed in translation capabilities and in producing output understandable to humans, said Gartner.


Persistent and reliable long-term storage. “The barriers to storing data for decades, if not a century, include format, hardware, software, metadata, information retrieval, just to mention a few, said the research firm.


Increase programmer productivity a hundredfold. “The application needs of business and society as a whole, combined with a shortage of programming skills, will demand greater programmer productivity. Reusable code is one solution, said Gartner, but that means meeting the challenges of producing perfect software and avoiding the need to modify it.


Identifying the financial consequences of IT investing. “As CIOs are all too familiar, one of the job’s greatest challenges is explaining the business value of IT in terms business execs understand. But Gartner offered one solution: “[M]anagement accounting could offer business advice and recommendations that would quantify the consequences of a particular IT deployment. Unlike financial accounting measurements which are standard across public companies, the particular management accounting metrics could be different for each company.” This Grand Challenge would be considered conquered, according to Gartner, “when a request for an IT project was argued with the following certainty: ‘If you invest in our IT proposal, you will see an additional $0.03 earnings per share directly attributable to this project by the third quarter of next year.’”


If we ever get to that day, it would truly be a challenge overcome.

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