We have recently seen the 1990s' dream of the application service provider (ASP) model become a reality in the form of cloud computing, as almost-ubiquitous connectivity opened up online services to companies and consumers. Virtualisation is helping save server space, as well as reducing operating costs and energy usage. Event-driven computing, pioneered in financial services, is now changing the way architectures are created in a wide variety of sectors, creating enormous efficiencies in service delivery; mobile computing is actually now an everyday reality for people.

So, as we come to the end of the noughties, we can look back to a wealth of IT innovation having occurred in the last 10 years. It took a bit of a knock in 2009 - budgets were cut and cost efficiency was for many sectors the only objective. But with the global economy showing some signs of recovery the belts are likely to be loosened in 2010 and innovation will be a big priority again.

The stage is already set for this. Software-as-a-service (SaaS) adoption is paving the way for further computing services to be offered in the cloud and event-driven computing looks set to accelerate. Also, enabling more people to have high-speed internet access is another vital area of technology development. In the UK for example, the UK Digital Economy Act will (eventually) bring broadband to all, changing expectations for how we interact with the internet permanently. For the CIO who wants to lead the revolution in their organisation, my advice would be to innovate at every opportunity, watch consumer trends and listen to ideas from across the business to ensure success.

The five key technology trends set to shake up computing in 2010 in my opinion are:


1. Cloud computing will become mainstream

The definition of ‘cloud' will become both broader and more segmented, with storage-as-a-service, platform-as-a-service and computers-as-a-service becoming more widely sold and used. Adoption will be quicker than the analysts suggest, as the cost savings and flexibility that cloud can introduce become more compelling. The cloud will continue to disrupt both the open source and traditional software markets. People may object or differ in opinion on terminology but cloud computing is here to stay. In time, only key IT systems which are core to a firm's competitive advantage or holding key IP will be controlled and retained internally.

2. Event-driven computing adoption will accelerate

In many industries, a constant stream of business events is becoming the norm. These events describe the pulse of a business - what is happening now. The use of event processing technologies will accelerate and give organisations more power to understand the opportunities and risks present in their businesses. The design of IT architectures will evolve to a point where all are, at least partially, event driven.

3. Mobile computing will be the biggest driver of innovation

Vast leaps have been made in the last few years to break the PC stranglehold on personal computing. Smartphones, PDAs, ultra-portable laptops will continue to improve substantially. Together with better wireless communication and location positioning technology these devices promise to deliver the ‘always connected' and ‘context aware' computing systems that have been promised for some years. Mobile, consumer-oriented social networking applications will be a very innovative area with business applications using and translating successful trends. The internet is now properly mobile - using a web browser on a PC to access it will seem almost old fashioned.

4. Real-time insight and business control will become a must-have

Organisations can ill-afford to lose money and customers through being slow to notice problems in delivery. In 2009, our research found that 67 per cent of businesses only become aware of problems when customers report them. Better real-time insight into what customers are doing is required. 80 per cent of companies already have critical business events they need to monitor in real-time, but currently only 8% of organisations report on these. In 2010, insight into these events powered by the right technology, will be essential to success.

5. CIOs will be forced to justify IT investments

The recession has killed off the notion of ‘IT for IT's sake' once and for all. CIOs must demonstrate rapid return on investment, business relevance and the strategic importance of IT to innovate, to ensure funding is released for projects.

What may seem like small changes in IT - further innovations in mobility, increased cloud take-up and changes in our approach to managing information - will lead to new frontiers opening up. Driven by the need to work efficiently, reduce costs and innovate together with a world economy beginning to recover, 2010 will see much greater innovation than the straightened times of 2009. CIOs must ensure they're aware of their skills, technologies and trends, which will further lead to an always-on, information ‘now' business environment.