10 Top Tech Trends for 2011: Leaner, Cloudier, Smarter and Unified

Fasten your seatbelt because this is going to be one fast-moving year in tech!

We scoured the most respected IT trending sources, combined them with what we’re seeing in the industry and our own client base, and now are glad to present you with (drum roll, please) Leapfrog’s Top 10 Tech Trends for 2011.

No surprise that most of the trends are highly reflective of this year’s prevailing megatrend: saving time and money.

1. Virtualization: As popular as it was to slice and dice server space last year, it’ll be even bigger this year. New tools are making it easier for everyone to benefit from virtualization, particularly small- and medium-sized businesses that previously gazed with envy at virtualized giants like Amazon.com. Hop here for a more detailed article: 3 Things Every CEO Should Know About Virtualization.

2. The Cloud: Why not use someone else’s computing power to handle your data? Renting online software (software as a service) such as salesforce.com, taking advantage of alternative computing platforms or using free personal tools like YouTube and Picasa will grow in popularity, so watch for even more new offerings. (Insider secret: it’s virtualization that makes the cloud possible.) Hop here for a more detailed article: Does cloud computing make sense for your business?

3. Analytics: For better decision-making, this year it’s all about accurate numbers over gut instinct — proof is what gets confidence going during a recession. New techniques, such as those that let you dump all your data onto one platform, will help you see what’s really going on in your business.

4. Security First: Gone are the days when you jump into a new technology without first having your cyber bodyguard walk the perimeter. The key question for 2011: But will my information be at risk? If so, people will say no. Especially if they’re on board with trends 1, 2 and 3.

5. Outsourcing: Just when you thought companies couldn’t get leaner, sticking to core competencies will become even more important — and doable — as better, more sophisticated outsourcing options come onto the scene.

6. Automating: Software programs that free you from repetitive tasks save time and brainpower. And boredom. From doing the monthly billing, to synchronizing devices, to backing up your hard drive…2011 will see fewer keystrokes and more computing in the background.

7. Unified Communications: In business environments and for personal use, too, people will simplify the way they can be reached by having one number that can find them anywhere — phone, email, text, and more. Hop here for a more detailed article: 10 Reasons the Switch Is On To Unified Communications.

8. Smartphones and Mobile Apps: The 1.2 billion people who already use smartphones want even more functionality from their fun little computers. Microsoft’s dashboard approach will be hot in 2011 and so will the iPhone despite increased competition from other smartphone manufacturers. Verizon, the nation’s #1 wireless provider, will be adding iPhone to its network in 2011.

9. Apple Products in Businesses: People love their iPads, iPhones and MacBook Airs so much that they want to use them for work, too. Fully integrated IT environments will make the particular operating system you use irrelevant as business PCs and Macs will work together seamlessly.

10. Social Networks: Yes, Facebook and Twitter will expand even further (44% of Twitter users joined in the first eight months of last year!), especially into the work environment. Which means conversations about business will increasingly take place next to conversations about what’s for dinner.