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What is “trending” – anyway?

Source: Gartner (August 2015)

The report “Hype Cycle of Emerging Technologies” – every year’s desperately expected Gartner report about what’s trending in IT – has been out now for a few weeks. Time to bend over it and analyze the most important messages:

1. Evolution

Gartner continues to categorize technologies on the hype cycle by their model of “business eras” (see my post about last year’s Hype Cycle for more details on that). The technologies analyzed for this year’s report are claimed to belong to the last 3 stages of this model: “Digital Marketing”, “Digital Business” and “Autonomous”. Little has changed within the most important technologies supporting these changes:

  • “Internet of Things” is still on its peak
  • “Wearable User Interfaces” has obviously been exchanged by just the term “Wearables” (which makes total sense)
  • “Speech-to-Speech Translation” has advanced beyond its peak
  • “Autonomous Vehicles” is probably the currently most-hyped area around Digital Business

2. Revolution

However, there’s a significant change in the world of technologies to be seen this year: While the plateau of productivity was pretty crowded last year with all sorts of 3D, Analytics and Social stuff (like streams, e.g.), this year’s Hype Cycle doesn’t show much in that area. Which actually proves nothing less than us living in an era of major disruption. Formerly hyped technologies like “Cloud” have vanished from the graph – they’ve become commodity. New stuff like all-things digital, “Cryptocurrencies” or “Machine Learning” are still far from any maturity. So, it’s a great time for re-shaping IT – let’s go for it!

Still, besides that, there remain some questions:

  • Why is “Hybrid Cloud” not moving forward, while “Cloud” is long gone from the Hype Cycle and CIOs are mainly – according to experience with my customers – looking for adopting cloud in a hybrid way? Is there still too little offer from the vendors? Are IT architects still not able to consume hybrid cloud models in a sufficiently significant way? Personally, I suspect “Hybrid” to have further advanced towards productivity than is claimed here; it’s just not that much talked about.
  • Why has Gartner secretly dropped “Software Defined Anything” (it was seen on the rise last year)? All that can be found on this year’s Hype Cycle is “Software-Defined Security”. While I agree, that in low-level infrastructure design the trend of software-defining components co-addresses important aspects of security, “Software-Defined Anything” has a much broader breadth into how IT will be changed in the next couple of years by programmers of any kind and languages of many sorts.
  • IoT Platforms has been introduced newly. With a 5-10 years adoption time? Really? Gartner, i know businesses working on that right now; I know vendors shaping their portfolio into this direction at awesome pace. I doubt this timeframe thoroughly.

3. and More

What’s, though, really important with this year’s Hype Cycle is the concentration of technologies that address “biology” in any sense. Look at the rising edge of the graph and collect what’s hyped there. We got:

  • Brain Computer Interface
  • Human Augmentation
  • 3D Bioprinting Systems
  • Biochips
  • or Bioacoustic Sensing

Not to mention “Smart Robots” and “Connected Homes” … Technologies like these will shape our future life. And it cannot be overestimated how drastically this change will affect us all – even if many of these technologies are still seen with a 5-10 years adoption time until they reach production maturity (however: it wouldn’t be the first time that a timeframe on the Hype Cycle need revision after a year of increased insight).

 

While reading a lot of comments on the Hype Cycle these days, I also fell upon “the five most over-hyped technologies” on venturebeat.com: The author, Chris O’Brien, takes a humorous view on some of the “peaked” technologies on the graph (Autonomous vehicles, self-service Analytics, IoT, Speech-to-speech translation and Machine Learning) – and shares a couple of really useful arguments on why the respective technologies will not be adopted that fast.

I can agree with most of O’Brien’s arguments – however: while some of the things-based stuff invented might be of limited applicability or use (connected forks? huh?), the overall meaningfulness of what “Digital Business” will bring to us all is beyond doubt. The question – as so often before – is not whether we’ll use all that new stuff to come, but whether we’ll be educated enough to use it to our benefit … ?

If you got questions and opinions of your own on that – or if you can answer some of my questions above – please, drop a comment! 🙂

The input for this post, the “Gartner’s 2015 Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies” is published in the Gartner Newsroom

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