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Gartner last week announced key predictions that it claims will change the nature of business today and beyond.

According to the research house, its 2010 predictions span 56 market, topic an

d industry areas, with around 250 predictions in total.

Gartner analysts said last year's themes of shifting ownership and revenue flows continue, becoming more pronounced and more sharply focused. As the macro-economic environment adjusts to a new balance between supply, consumer demand and regulation, the focus of this year's top predictions has expanded to encompass shifts in the way that users interact with IT, the firm added.

"As organizations make plans to navigate the economic recovery and prepare for the return to growth, our predictions for 2010 focus on the impact of critical changes in the balance of control and power in IT," said Brian Gammage, vice president and research fellow at Gartner. "With greater financial and regulatory oversight for all IT investment decisions, few organizations will be unaffected."

"For many organizations, the economic and budgetary challenges of 2009 drove important changes in the general governance of IT investment decisions, accelerating the trend toward greater accountability and transparency," said Daryl Plummer, managing vice president and chief Gartner fellow. "With a strong emphasis on business-case justifications, chief financial officers (CFOs) assumed a more active role. Although most organizations enter 2010 preparing for a return to growth, this financial oversight is unlikely to be lifted anytime soon. For IT leaders, greater fluency in the language of business has become a requirement."

Expected in the Decade

Gartner's top predictions for 2010 and beyond include:

* By 2012, 20 percent of businesses will own no IT assets. Several Inter-related trends are driving the movement toward decreased IT hardware assets, such as virtualization, cloud-enabled services, and employees running personal desktops and notebook systems on corporate networks.

The need for computing hardware, either in a data center or on an employee's desk, will not go away. However, if the ownership of hardware shifts to third parties, then there will be major shifts throughout every facet of the IT hardware industry. For example, enterprise IT budgets will either be shrunk or reallocated to more-strategic projects; enterprise IT staff will either be reduced or reskilled to meet new requirements, and/or hardware distribution will have to change radically to meet the requirements of the new IT hardware buying points.

* By 2012, India-centric IT services companies will represent 20 percent of the leading cloud aggregators in the market (through cloud service offerings). Gartner is seeing India-centric IT services companies leveraging established market positions and levels of trust to explore nonlinear revenue growth models (which are not directly correlated to labor-based growth) and working on interesting research and development (R&D) efforts, especially in the area of cloud computing. The collective work from India-centric vendors represents an important segment of the market's cloud aggregators, which will offer cloud-enabled outsourcing options (also known as cloud services).

* By 2012, Facebook will become the hub for social network integration and Web socialization. Through Facebook Connect and other similar mechanisms, Facebook will support and take a leading role in developing the distributed, interoperable social Web. As Facebook continues to grow and outnumber other social networks, this interoperability will become critical to the success and survival of other social networks, communication channels and media sites.

Other social networks (including Twitter) will continue to develop, seeking further adoption and specializations with communication or content areas, but Facebook will represent a common denominator for all of them.

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