Enterprise IT faces "dramatic changes" as a result of eight trends identified by consultancy Accenture.

Accenture says new data management systems, social platforms and cloud computing will help drive the evolution of enterprise IT.

The Accenture Technology Vision 2011 report identifies eight emerging trends that "challenge long-held assumptions about IT". The report offers “action steps” that businesses and governments can take to prepare "for the new world of computing".

Gavin Michael, managing director of R&D and alliances at Accenture, said,“The role of technology is changing - it is no longer in a support role. Instead, it is front and centre driving business performance."

One of the trends identified in the report is that the age of “viewing everything through an application lens is coming to an end". Instead, says Accenture, platform architectures will be selected primarily to cope with soaring volumes of data and the complexity of data management, not for their ability to support applications.

The tried and tested relational database will not go away, but it will soon start to make way for other types of databases, said Accenture, like streaming databases, for instance.

“IT and business leaders will begin to view application services as utilities that can be procured off the shelf,” said Michael. “The roles of application and data will be reversed, with data becoming the platform that supports application services. Business leaders, as such, will be encouraged to reframe their IT orientation around the idea of data platforms.”

The report also predicts the evolution of social media into social platforms. This means company web sites may no longer be the first port of call for customers.

For example, “social identities” – based on the rich history of information that individuals leave in social networks – will become much more valuable to businesses than the traditional and isolated information individual users can access on corporate websites.

Accenture also says cloud computing will become so pervasive that the term itself will become superfluous. According to the report, hybrid clouds – software as a service (SaaS) and platform as a service (PaaS) in combination with internal applications – will “cement IT’s role as a driver of business growth".

Other trends identified in the Accenture report:

-Data Security: The fortress mentality, in which all IT has to be architected to be foolproof, is giving way to a security architecture that responds proportionately to threats when and where they happen.
-Data Privacy: Individual privacy will take centre stage as a result of increased government regulation and policy enforcement.
 -Analytics: Companies that continue to view analytics as a simple extension of business intelligence underestimate analytics' potential to help manage the business in a major way. Smarter IT leaders are working closely with business leaders to identify where analytics can be leveraged effectively.
-Architecture: IT is evolving from a world that is server-centric to one that is service-centric. Companies are moving away from monolithic systems that are wedded to one or more servers towards finer-grained, reusable services distributed inside and outside the enterprise.
-User Experience: Business process design will be driven by the need to create superior user experiences that help to boost customer satisfaction.