4 Disruptive Technologies To Watch In 2013

Gartner, the well-known information technology research and advisory firm, recently released a list of its top 10 technologies and trends for 2013. The list covers a wide range of technologies that will most disrupt IT and business-as-usual over the next twelve months. Today I’m going to take a look at some of their findings and share my own insights and opinions.

1. Mobile devices

According to Gartner’s research, 2013 will be the year mobile devices completely take over the computing landscape. In 2013, mobile phones are expected to overtake PCs as the devices most commonly used to access the web worldwide and by 2015, Gartner is predicting that 80% of phones will be smartphones. These are absolutely wild findings, and, if true, mean big changes in the way we all do business.

Last year, I talked about how the world has gone mobile and how small businesses need to ensure they had a mobile-friendly website ready to go. This year, not only do you need a mobile website, but you also need to be thinking about how an app or a new, mobile-friendly business model could re-invigorate your bottom line. Whether you sell products, provide services, or are an individual looking to turn yourself into a brand, this is the year to ensure you have a strong presence on mobile devices through social media, a website, and possibly even an app, But that brings us to our next topic that tackles the platforms and technologies that may power your new mobile business.

2. Mobile applications and HTML 5

Anyone with a smartphone or tablet already knows how mobile websites and apps empower us to do more while on the go and to be more productive while working from a mobile device. This year, Gartner is predicting that the general trend will be away from native apps (i.e., apps specific to a certain smartphone platform like Android) and into more general web apps based on the HTML 5 standard. Here, I have to disagree somewhat with Gartner. Take Google for example. In the past year they’ve released beautiful apps that integrate with a variety of their services, from their Google Drive office suite to their Gmail e-mail client. These native apps, as opposed to the web-based versions that are also accessible, provide much nicer, easier-to-use interfaces that just work better! Sure, for a business there’s a lot to consider—with a multitude of smartphone and tablet platforms to create apps for, it’s hard to know where to start! But from the user’s perspective, a native app is definitely preferable to having to remember a website address and navigating a less-than-optimized experience on a phone.

For your business, you may just want to target a small number of mobile platforms instead of trying to make apps for everyone. That way you can give people exactly what they want from your company. Plus, apps are still a hot topic—just the other week, I highlighted my top apps for 2013 on the TODAY show. Mobile websites simply do not get the same press coverage as their app equivalents, and you may miss out on media coverage if all your business has to offer is a cross-platform web-based interface.

3. Personal cloud

It used to be that all of our files were in one place, on our desktop computers at the office. Then came laptops, and we used various ways to ensure we had the files we needed while on the go. Today, we often need the exact same document in half a dozen locations—not just laptops and desktops but mobile devices including smartphones and tablet computers. The answer to this problem is maintaining a strong personal cloud, a personal collection of cloud services, web destinations, and apps to ensure that our files are there when we need them and that changes are saved across our devices. Gartner is predicting that this transition will be slow but inevitable, and our personal cloud will be the “glue” that holds our digital lives together. I couldn’t agree more! Files need to be portable and available because no single type of computing device fits all of our needs. Files will increasingly shift from our machines to the web, and apps and web-interfaces are absolutely the future of file management.

4. The Internet of Things

One important phrase that has been kicking around the online world lately is the “Internet of Things.” This phrase refers to the fact that the Internet is no longer just a network, but something that a variety of real-world physical devices (the “things”) all connect to. Far beyond our smartphones, the Internet of things increasingly connects to our homes through smart appliances and televisions, and it connects to our transportation through smart cars and Wi-Fi enabled trains and planes. The Internet of Things even connects to our bodies through digital health products like wristbands that track our workouts, sleep, and eating habits. These devices increasingly talk to each other through localized wireless technologies like Bluetooth and near field communication (NFC), but also connect via Wi-Fi or data networks to the entire Internet.

2013 is already shaping up to be a banner year for the Internet of Things. At CES this year, I saw wild new forms of mobile and digital health tech as well as amazing tech to train the next generation of children how to better live in a connected world.

These are just some of the hot new trends that Gartner is predicting for the next year in technology. If you’d like to know more about what tech Gartner is predicting will change not just your business but your life in 2013, I recommend Kevin Tea’s excellent analysis in this blog post at Web2.

As always, if you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comments below, and I’ll do my best to help out or point you in the right direction as we head into the new world of 2013 technology!


Mario Armstrong, Digital Lifestyle Expert, is an Emmy Award winning, tech commentator for the TODAY show, CNN, HLN and Fuse. An entrepreneur by nature, Mario made his passion his career by quitting his day job and founding Mario Armstrong Media. Follow Mario at @MarioArmstrong. AT&T has sponsored this blog post.

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