Consortium introduces standard to simplify VR headset connectivity

NVIDIA, Oculus, Valve, AMD, and Microsoft have come together to introduce VirtualLink, an open standard that simplifies next-generation virtual reality (VR) headset connectivity to PCs and other devices. Instead of a range of cords and connectors, the new standard adopts the single, high-bandwidth USB Type-C connector.

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Google faces massive fine over Android

It happened to Microsoft in 2013 and it looks like history is repeating itself, albeit with Google being the one under the spotlight. The European Union (EU) is expected to decide on a record fine for forcing Android smartphone makers to pre-install its search and web browsing tools and use them by default unless they want to lose access to the Play Store.

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Microsoft acquires Semantic Machines

Microsoft has acquired Semantic Machines, which has developed a new approach to building conversational artificial intelligence (AI).

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AI to fuel next wave of cloud growth

The cloud infrastructure services market is continuing to grow strongly, up 47 percent year on year in Q2 to reach US$14 billion, according to Canalys. Growth was driven by demand for primary cloud infrastructure services, such as on-demand computing and storage, across all customer segments and industries.

However, future growth is expected to be fueled by customers using the artificial intelligence (AI) platforms cloud service providers are building to develop new applications, processes, services, and user experiences.

Amazon Web Services (AWS) maintained its leadership position, growing 42 percent on an annual basis and accounting for more than 30 percent of total spend. But its growth rate was lower than those of its main rivals, Microsoft (up 97 percent growth) and Google (up 92 percent), but higher than fourth-placed IBM (up 23 percent). Overall, the top four cloud services providers represented 55 percent of the cloud infrastructure services market, which includes IaaS and PaaS.

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GTC draws the big guns!

As a sign of its coming of age, the GPU Technology Conference (GTC) held annually in San Jose, California since 2009, is no longer a niche event but one that is drawing the who’s who of the technology industry.

NVIDIA’s shift of focus from being a visual computing company to an AI company has certainly played a big part in the expansion of the conference. It has attracted around 50 sponsors and 150 exhibitors on top of more than 7,000 participants.

However, it’s not the number of sponsors and exhibitors but rather the quality that is worthy of attention. The line-up of technology firms includes luminaries such as Adobe, Alibaba, Amazon, Autodesk, Cisco, Cray, Dell EMC, DreamWorks Animation, IBM Watson, Lenovo, Microsoft, Samsung Electronics, Verizon Labs, VMware, and Yahoo Research.

With AI being such a prime mover of autonomous vehicles, it is also not surprising that leading names in the automotive industry were also present — BMW Group, Chevron, ExxonMobil, Ford Motor Company, General Motors, Honda Research Institute, and Mercedes-Benz R&D North America.

Amid the various booths showcasing VR technologies was one by NASA Ames Research Center, which showed a VR demonstration on Mars.

Tablet market to drop 8% in 2015

IDCThe year’s looking bad for tablets as worldwide demand is expected to slide 8.1-percent to just 211.3 million units, according to IDC.

The new forecast follows three consecutive quarters of declining worldwide tablet shipments in 2015. Despite the challenges facing the overall market, IDC expects detachable tablets will continue to represent a growing portion of total shipments.

“We’re witnessing a real market transition as end users shift their demand towards detachables and more broadly towards a productivity-based value proposition. The proliferation of detachable offerings from hardware vendors continues to help drive this switch. We’re starting to see the impact of competition within this space as the major platform vendors – Apple, Google and Microsoft – now have physical product offerings. With attractive price points, including the introduction of sub-US$100 detachables, and platform innovation being driven by competition, IDC is confident that the detachables segment will nearly double in size in the next year, recording more than 75 percent growth compared to 2015,” said Jean Philippe Bouchard , Research Director, Tablets, IDC.

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Alibaba joins Microsoft and AWS as leaders in China cloud market

ForresterThe public cloud market in China will more than double in the next five years, from US$1.8 billion this year to US$3.8 billion in 2020, according to Forrester.

Two-thirds of Chinese software decision-makers surveyed by Forrester are making increased use of public cloud platforms a top priority over the next 12 months.

Enterprise public cloud platform vendors in China are improving in terms of their service diversity, simple abstraction for operational efficiency, and operational autonomy for on-demand elasticity. Forrester has evaluated the strengths and weaknesses of 11 cloud vendors Alibaba, AWS, ChinaC, DaoCloud, JD.com, Microsoft, MoPaaS, QingCloud, Tencent, UCloud, and UnitedStack.

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India software market up 8% in 2014

GartnerSoftware revenue in India rose 8.3 percent to hit US$4 billion in 2014, according to Gartner.

“The enterprise software marketplace is dynamic and ever-changing. Its growth and structure are being shaped by the factors and forces of decentralised purchasing, consumerisation and mobility, influence of emerging markets, cloud-based implementations, and new consumption models. Improvement in global economic conditions has somewhat relaxed the strain on the Indian economy, thereby boosting corporate sentiments. Along with a new stable government at the center, this has helped in alleviating concerns about economic growth — to a certain extent — with early signs of spending in growth initiatives beginning to emerge,” said Bhavish Sood, Research Director of Gartner.

Several leading trends include:

  • Software as a service (SaaS) adoption and development
  • Open-source software (OSS) adoption and its broader market implications
  • Changing buying behaviors and purchasing styles associated with the digital business
  • Spending in key growth markets such as India and China

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Global PC shipment down 7% in Q1

CanalysApple held on to its top spot despite a 16 percent drop in PC shipment in Q1. It shipped 17.2 million units, taking a 15 percent market share while Lenovo and HP came in second and third place respectively. Samsung was next with 9.5 million units shipped with Dell just behind with 9.4 million units.

Overall, the global PC market, including tablets, declined seven percent, according to Canalys.

“The growth drivers that previously helped the market through 2014 will have little effect this year. Vendors are struggling with exchange rate fluctuations which is making financial planning more difficult and forcing price increases. These challenges, combined with a softening of demand as Windows 10 draws nearer along with Microsoft’s free upgrade plans, means PC market declines will be greater in the second quarter than they were in the first,” said Tim Coulling, Senior Analyst of Canalys.

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India smartphone market shrinks in Q4

IDCSmartphone shipment in India observed its first drop in Q4, according to IDC. The decline was attributed to a high channel inventory at the beginning of the quarter among general trade which in turn was caused by the surge witnessed in online sales during festive season.

Q4 was seen as a correction phase when the Smart Phone market shrank by four percent while the feature phone market plummeted by about 14 percent over the previous quarter. The overall mobile phone market stood at 64.3 million units in Q4, which reflects a sequential drop of 11 percent over Q3 and an annual drop of five percent in 2014.

The feature phone to smartphone migration trend is clearly visible as smartphones formed a healthy 35 percent of the overall mobile business in Q4, an increase of 13 percent fom a year ago.

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Tablet shipment down 12% globally in Q4

CanalysThe stats are in – tablet shipment dropped 12 percent to 67 million units in Q4, according to Canalys. The desktop market fell back into a decline in Q4 as Windows XP upgrades waned. The notebook market held firm with another quarter of just one percent growth.

Total PC shipments (desktops, notebooks and tablets) fell six percent in Q4 to reach 148 million units, resulting in full-year 2014 shipments of 528 million units, up three percent on 2013.

Apple regained the top spot in the PC market on the strength of holiday sales, with just under 27 million units shipped. Lenovo’s shipments grew six percent year on year to almost 20 million units as it increased its market share to 13.3 percent. Samsung dropped out of the top three to make way for HP, with growth of 17 percent driving shipments over 17 million units, its best quarter since Q3 2011.

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Microsoft jumps to Windows 10

Windows 10 familySkipping a generation seems to be the norm these days. A couple of weeks ago, NVIDIA introduced its GeForce GTX 900 series, bypassing the 800 series. Yesterday, Microsoft made a similar move by skipping a highly anticipated Windows 9 to introduce Windows 10.

In a technical preview, Microsoft highlighted advancements in the new operating system that are designed for business, including an updated user experience and enhanced security and management capabilities.

“Windows 10 represents the first step of a whole new generation of Windows, unlocking new experiences to give customers new ways to work, play and connect. This will be our most comprehensive operating system and the best release Microsoft has ever done for our business customers, and we look forward to working together with our broader Windows community to bring Windows 10 to life in the months ahead,” said Terry Myerson, Executive Vice President of the Operating Systems group at Microsoft.

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NVIDIA clinches Computex Best Choice Awards for Tegra K1 and GRID

Best Choice AwardNVIDIA has done the double by snaring the Computex Best Choice Award for its NVIDIA GRID technology and the Golden Award for the NVIDIA Tegra K1 mobile processor.

This is the sixth year running that NVIDIA has picked up the award, marking the  longest winning streak of any international Computex exhibitor. More than 475 technology products from nearly 200 vendors competed for this year’s recognition.

Tegra K1 is a 192-core super chip, built on the NVIDIA Kepler architecture — the world’s most advanced and energy-efficient GPU. Tegra K1’s 192 fully programmable CUDA cores deliver the most advanced mobile graphics and performance, and its compute capabilities open up many new applications and experiences in fields such as computer vision, advanced imaging, speech recognition and video editing.

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Sony follows Microsoft into China gaming console market

Though made in China, gaming consoles were banned in the country from 2000. That has since changed with the lifting of the ban last year, which allows gaming console makers in a free trade zone in Shanghai to sell to China.

This has prompted Microsoft, and this week, Sony to announce that they will be entering the gaming console market.

Microsoft plans to ship the Xbox One in September through a joint venture. And Sony intends to do likewise with two joint ventures with Shanghai Oriental Pearl Culture Development. It’s not only the international big boys that are keen on a slice of this pie. Huawei Technologies, TCL and ZTE are reportedly among Chinese companies keen to enter the market with Android-based consoles.

Violin Memory and Microsoft develop and avail all-flash array solution

WFAViolin Memory has teamed up with Microsoft to develop and avail Windows Flash Array (WFA), the first all-flash high-performance storage array powered by Windows Storage Server 2012 R2. WFA is a tightly integrated combination of Windows Storage Server 2012 R2 and Violin’s award-winning hardware and software into a single solution that delivers high performance all-flash array storage for enterprise and cloud customers.

The solution is claimed to transform the datacentre by dramatically reducing server overhead and application response times through improved storage performance, fundamentally altering the cost structure of enterprise applications. It enables enterprise and cloud workloads, such as SQL Server, Microsoft SharePoint and Windows Server with Hyper-V virtualised applications, to meet the needs of global enterprises, while satisfying IT operational demands for maximised agility, automation, and orchestration between network, storage and compute resources.

“Microsoft technologies, such as Windows Server, SQL Server, and Microsoft SharePoint, are already adopted by enterprises worldwide and growing dramatically,” said Bill Laing, Corporate Vice- President of Microsoft. “By jointly developing this highly integrated solution with Violin Memory, we are working together to provide enterprise and cloud customers with dramatically improved performance, scalability, and economics for their Windows applications – virtualised, physical, and cloud.”

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Tablets to account for half of PC market in 2014

 Source: Canalys

Tablets will almost out ship all other PC form factors combined, forming almost 50 percent of the total client PC market (desktops, notebooks, and tablets) in  2014, according to Canalys.

The worldwide client PC market grew 18 percent in Q3, despite desktop and notebook shipments continuing to decline. Tablet PC shipments accounted for 40 percent of PC shipments in Q3, less than half a million units behind global notebook shipments.

Tablet domination is set to continue, with Canalys forecasting 285 million units to ship in 2014, growing to 396 million units in 2017. Apple and Samsung are expected keep ahead of their competitors in the medium term, but there could be challenges for both vendors as competition in the tablet market continues to heat up.

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Global video game market to reach US$93b

GartnerThe worldwide video game marketplace, which includes video game console hardware and software, online, mobile and PC games, will reach US$93 billion in 2013, up from $79 billion in 2012, according to Gartner.

Driven by strong mobile gaming and video game console and software sales, the market is forecast to hit US$111 billion by 2015.

Mobile games are the fastest-growing segment of the market, with revenue set to nearly double between 2013 and 2015 from US$13.2 billion to US$22 billion.

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New Apple hardware? OK, but free OS and apps sound really good!

OSXApple’s fall event early this morning (Singapore time) was about thinner, lighter and more powerful products. Yes, these are improvements but not something that would get me excited to lay my hands on one.

After all, having gone through two iterations of the iPad and other Apple products, the new announcements seem to be marginal improvements. OK, the new iPad Air is lighter and thinner but hey, I’m already used to having the New iPad (or at least, that’s what it was called at launch). However, what kept me awake (remember, it was in the wee hours) was the announcement that users can have the latest Mac operating system, OS X Mavericks, for free. Now, this has the potential to be a game changer especially in its battle with Windows. How often have we heard of free Microsoft products? If at all…

According to Jan Dawson, Chief Telecoms Analyst of Ovum, the changes to Apple’s software licensing for Mac OS X, iLife and iWork is also important, not least for Microsoft. Continue reading “New Apple hardware? OK, but free OS and apps sound really good!”

Lower-priced products to drive devices growth in 2013

GartnerLower-priced devices are driving the growth of worldwide combined shipments of PCs, tablets and mobile phones in 2013, according to Gartner. The global devices market is expected to hit 2.32 billion units, a 4.5 percent increase from 2012.

Worldwide shipments of traditional PCs (desk-based and notebook) are forecast to total 303 million units in 2013, an 11.2 percent decline from 2012, and the PC market, including ultramobiles, is forecast to drop 8.4 percent. Mobile phone shipments are projected to grow 3.7 percent, with volume of more than 1.8 billion units.

Tablet shipments are expected to grow 42.7 percent this year, with shipments reaching 184 million units. Premium tablets are faced with continued price decline in the 7-inch form factor as a larger number of consumers prefer smaller form factors when it comes to content consumption.

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Microsoft Xbox One tops ABI Research’s Game Console Competitive Assessment

Microsoft Xbox One consoleThe gaming console market is highly competitive with Microsoft just edging Sony for the top position in ABI Research’s game console Competitive Assessment, based on expectations for the impact of Sony’s PS4 and Microsoft’s Xbox One game consoles.

ABI Research evaluated a number of companies across three device categories: game consoles, smart set-top boxes, and TVs/Blu-ray players. Several factors were used to score each company based on two main axes of Innovation and Implementation. The assessment provides deep insight into consumer electronics ecosystems and modern video experiences in the connected home.

Sony fell to second in the game console assessment in part because key PlayStation 4 (PS4) differentiators such as cloud gaming are still untested (and won’t be fully available at launch), but largely because Microsoft has shown more features on the broader entertainment front (eg hybrid premium/OTT services). Nintendo secured the third position but a significant gap remains between it and market leaders.

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Beginning of the Digital Industrial Economy

GartnerWorldwide IT spending is forecast to reach US$3.8 trillion in 2014, a 3.6 percent increase from 2013, but it’s the opportunities of a digital world that have IT leaders excited, according to Gartner.

The beginning of the Digital Industrial Economy will make every budget an IT budget; every company a technology company; every business a digital leader, and every person a technology company.

“The Digital Industrial Economy will be built on the foundations of the Nexus of Forces (which includes a confluence and integration of cloud, social collaboration, mobile and information) and the Internet of Everything by combining the physical world and the virtual,” said Peter Sondergaard, Senior Vice President of Gartner and Global Head of Research.

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Microsoft introduces Surface 2 powered by NVIDIA Tegra 4

Surface 2Microsoft has introduced Surface 2, the successor to the ill-fated Surface RT, for which the company booked a US$900 million loss. So, what’s the difference between the first iteration and this new version?

“Surface 2 is not subtle, but is a revamp. It is not the simple changes that everybody wants, but it’s the changes people need,” said Panos Panay, Surface Chief of Microsoft.

It’s powered by the NVIDIA Tegra 4, which should provide a major performance boost over the first-generation Surface RT tablet. The chip’s ARM Cortex-A15 quad-core CPU and 72 GeForce GPU cores should help the device fly across web browsing, zip through Office applications and deliver immersive DirectX gaming experiences.

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China’s top five vendors grab 20% of the world’s smartphone market

CanalysSamsung and Apple grew smartphone shipment by 55 percent and 20 percent respectively to maintain first and second place in Q2, according to Canalys.

However, both lost market share to Chinese vendors as the top 5 China vendors (Lenovo, Yulong, Huawei, ZTE, and Xiaomi) now account for 20 percent of the  market, up from less than 15 percent a year ago.

Altogether, some 238.1 million units were shipped in Q2, an impressive 50 percent year-on-year gain.

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Cellebrite introduces PC-based wireless retail solution

Cellebrite DeskTopCellebrite has introduced Cellebrite DeskTop, a PC-based version of its suite of applications that increase revenue, boost margins and improve customer satisfaction in the store and beyond.

Cellebrite DeskTop includes fast phone-to-phone content transfer, back-up, and restore, a fully automated phone trade-in programme, application content and delivery, and robust diagnostics to “detect and correct” phone problems, in an integrated solution running in a Microsoft Windows environment.

It reduces total cost of ownership (TCO) by offering retailers the flexibility of running on a general-purpose PC, eliminating the added cost associated with dedicated hardware. Users will also benefit from unprecedented system performance, including fast content transfer.

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Smart watches poised to take off in 2014

CanalysFancy a new accessory? How about a smart watch? It looks like smart watches are going to be the next “must have” item. According to Canalys, the worldwide smart watch market will exceed five million units in 2014.

Canalys estimates that over 330,000 smart watches were shipped in 2012, led by Sony and Motorola. Kickstarter-backed Pebble Technology has joined Sony as a market leader in 2013. More than half a million units will be shipped this year. Smart watches are then set to explode by the end of 2014, growing tenfold as a new generation of devices from Apple, Google, Microsoft, Samsung, and others are launched.

Unlike earlier products, these smart watches will provide more sophisticated software and more elegant hardware. Glanceable information, integration across sensors and hooks into web services will be key features. These companion devices will not replace smart phones, but rather complement them as ‘appcessories’.

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NVIDIA PhysX supports Microsoft Xbox One

Microsoft Xbox OneNVIDIA has announced its support for the Microsoft Xbox One game console with its popular NVIDIA PhysX and NVIDIA APEX software development kits (SDKs).

Together, PhysX and APEX provide solutions for collision detection and simulation of rigid bodies, clothing, fluids, particle systems and more, across a wide range of platforms, including desktop PCs, game consoles, and mobile and handheld devices.

NVIDIA PhysX technology is the world’s most pervasive physics solution for designing real-time, real-world effects into interactive entertainment titles. The PhysX development environment gives developers unprecedented control over the look of their final in-game interactivity.

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IDC: Worldwide tablet market posts strong growth in Q1

IDCWorldwide tablet shipments continue to surge, growing 142.4 percent year over year in the first quarter of 2013 (1Q13), according to preliminary data from IDC Worldwide Quarterly Tablet Tracker. Tablet shipments totaled 49.2 million units in 1Q13, surpassing that of the entire first half of 2012. With growth fueled by increased market demand for smaller screen devices, tablets have shown no sign of slowing down.

Apple outperformed IDC’s most recent projections for the quarter, shipping 19.5 million units compared to a forecast of 18.7 million units. The company, which historically has experienced a steep drop off in first quarter shipments (following strong holiday sales in the fourth quarter), saw some smoothing of that seasonality this year. Number two vendor Samsung also performed above expectations and managed to grow its shipments over the fourth quarter as more of the company’s smaller-sized tablets began to gain traction in the market. Samsung has also used its recent Android smartphone growth to help bring its tablet product line into new markets and channels, leveraging the opportunity to package and bundle. The strong performance of the two market leaders helped drive total shipments to an impressive 49.2 million units for the quarter.

“Sustained demand for the iPad mini and increasingly strong commercial shipments led to a better-than expected first quarter for Apple,” said Tom Mainelli, Research Director, Tablets at IDC. “In addition, by moving the iPad launch to the fourth quarter of 2012, Apple seems to have avoided the typical first-quarter slowdown that traditionally occurred when consumers held off buying in January and February in anticipation of a new product launch in March.”

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ACCA launches vendor-neutral cloud assessment tool

ACCAThe Asia Cloud Computing Association (ACCA) has launched the online version of its Cloud Assessment Tool (CAT), which is designed to help businesses choose the most suitable cloud provider.

CAT provides a standard framework for IT users to measure their requirements against vendor offerings. The vendor-neutral framework will help enterprises make informed decisions as they consider migrating their data and applications to the cloud.

ACCA is currently benchmarking services and platforms provided by its members, including PLDT/Smart, Microsoft, Verizon Terremark, Telenor, Equinix, and Hiring Solutions.

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Gartner: Declining worldwide PC shipments in Q4 of 2012 signal structural shift

GartnerWorldwide PC shipments totaled 90.3 million units in the fourth quarter of 2012, a 4.9 percent decline from the fourth quarter of 2011, according to preliminary results by Gartner. Analysts said the PC industry’s problems point to something beyond a weak economy.

PC shipments in Asia/Pacific totalled 29.9 million units in the fourth quarter of 2012, a 1.8 percent decline from the fourth quarter of 2011. Vendors struggled to offer compelling products to convince buyers to upgrade and attract new buyers as consumers’ interest continues to be on smartphones and tablets. The introduction of Windows 8 met with lukewarm response and availability was primarily on the higher-end models, which were priced beyond the mainstream price point for volume sales.

“Tablets have dramatically changed the device landscape for PCs, not so much by ‘cannibalizing’ PC sales, but by causing PC users to shift consumption to tablets rather than replacing older PCs,” said Mikako Kitagawa, principal analyst at Gartner. “Whereas as once we imagined a world in which individual users would have both a PC and a tablet as personal devices, we increasingly suspect that most individuals will shift consumption activity to a personal tablet, and perform creative and administrative tasks on a shared PC. There will be some individuals who retain both, but we believe they will be exception and not the norm. Therefore, we hypothesise that buyers will not replace secondary PCs in the household, instead allowing them to age out and shifting consumption to a tablet.”

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Gartner predictions for IT organisations and users for 2013 and beyond

GartnerGartner has revealed its top predictions for IT organisations and IT users for 2013 and beyond.

Gartner’s top predictions focus on economic risks, opportunities and innovations that will impel CIOs to move to the next generation of business-driven solutions. Selected from across Gartner’s research areas as the most compelling and critical predictions, they address the trends and topics that underline the reduction of control that IT has over the forces that affect it.

“The priorities of CEOs must be dealt with by CIOs who exist in a still-turbulent economy and increasingly uncertain technology future,” said Daryl Plummer, Managing Vice President and Gartner Fellow. “As consumerisation takes hold and the Nexus of Forces drives CEOs to certain expectations, CIOs must still provide reliability, serviceability and availability of systems and services. Their priorities must span multiple areas. As the world of IT moves forward, it is finding that it must coordinate activities in a much wider scope than it once controlled, and as a result, a loss of control echoes through several predictions we are making.”

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