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Gartner says hot technologies include social network analysis, collective intelligence, location-aware applications, and event-driven architectures.

Researcher Gartner Inc. on Wednesday identified the technologies it believes will have the greatest impact on businesses over the next 10 years, naming such hot areas as social-network analysis, collective intelligence, location-aware applications and event-driven architectures.

In its 2006 Emerging Technologies Hype Cycle report, Gartner assessed the maturity, impact and adoption speed of three dozen technologies and trends. The list was divided under three themes: Web 2.0, Real World Web and Application Architecture.

Under Web 2.0, social-network analysis and Ajax were rated as "high impact" and reaching maturity in less than two years. Collective intelligence, on the other hand, was rated as potentially transformational to businesses.

Social network analysis, as defined by Gartner, is using the information and knowledge gathered from people's personal networks to identify target markets, create project teams and discover unvoiced conclusions. Ajax, a method for building enhanced user interfaces for Web applications, could achieve high impact if the development process encompasses innovations in server-side processing, such as Google's use of the method in its mapping service called Google Maps.

Collective intelligence was defined as an approach to developing intellectual content, such as code and documents, through individuals working together with no centralized authority. "This is seen as a more cost-efficient way of producing content, metadata, software and certain services," Gartner said, adding that the approach is expected to go mainstream in five to 10 years.

Among the high-impact technologies under Real World Web were location-aware technologies and applications. The former includes the use of global positioning systems and other technologies in the cellular network and handset to locate a mobile user. The technologies were expected to reach maturity in less than two years.

Once devices were location-aware, business applications were expected to take advantage of the capabilities in the next two to five years. Uses include field force management, fleet management, logistics and goods transportation, Gartner said.

Under Applications Architecture, event-driven architecture, a form of distributed computing, was expected to reach mainstream adoption in five to 10 years. EDA involves the packaging of discrete functions into modular, encapsulated, shareable components, some of which are triggered by the arrival of one or more event objects, Gartner said. EDA is currently being used in financial trading, energy trading, supply chain, fraud detection, homeland security, telecommunications, customer contact center management, logistics and sensor networks, such as those based on radio-frequency identification, or RFID.

Other technologies listed under the architecture theme was the use of semantic markup languages to reduce the costs and improve the quality of Web content management, information access, system interoperability, database integration and data quality. The technologies were expected to reach mainstream in five to 10 years.

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