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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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Are you outdated?

The Gartner Hype Cycle 2014 special report is out

So – here it is: Gartner’s assessment of emerging technologies for 2014. And it’s the first time in years, that I haven’t really anything substantial to requery with it. However, two things are worth mentioning:

Cloud Computing’s disillusionment

It’s “The End of the Cloud as we know it“, I said, recently. Gartner – in quite a similar way – sees The Cloud entering the trough of disillusionment with many signs of fatigue, partly accompanied by rampant “cloud washing” but also driven by many – if not all – vendors offering a Cloud Strategy although “many aren’t cloud-centric and some of their cloud strategies are in name only“. The early promises of massive cost savings are finally worn out for the benefit of more realistic advantages with a move into the cloud. And Gartner appreciates that Cloud continues to be one of the most hyped topics in IT history with organizations that develop a true cloud strategy focussing on the real benefits such as agility, speed, time to market and innovation.

Journey into the Digital Age

However, what’s far more important and interesting than the Hype Cycle itself is their publication of the “Journey into the Digital Age” which comes – according to Gartner – with 6 business era models. These models – alongside their respective driving technologies – characterize the focus and outcome of organizations operating within each of those eras. Dividing lines between them are

  • the “Web” before which the only relevant era was “Analog” characterized by CRM and ERP as the most important emerging technologies and
  • the “Nexus of Forces” (mobile, social, cloud and information) which seperates “Web” (as an era), “E-Business” and “Digital Marketing” from “Digital Business” and “Autonomous”

While the era of “Digital Marketing” is mostly what we see with innovative organizations these days, it is the last 2 eras that seperate the latter from the real innovators and the founders of the next age of IT (claimed by many to be called “Industry 4.0”):

  • Digital Business – mainly driven by how the “Internet of Things” changes the way to do business and to interact with customers – will be the era where our physical and virtual world will blur and businesses will adopt and mature technologies like 3D printing/scanning, sensor- or machine-to-machine-technologies or even cryptocurrencies (e.g. BitCoin). We should be watching out for the main innovators in the healthcare domain to show us the way into and through this era within the next few years.
  • Autonomous – to me – is the most compelling of those 6 business era models. According to Gartner it represents the final postnexus stage (which i.m.h.o. will change as evolution is ubiquitous and change is constant) and is characterized by organizations’ ability to “leverage technologies that provide humanlike or humanreplacing capabilities“. Enterprises having the capabilities to operate within this business era model will push innovative solutions of all kind, that allow normal day-2-day activity like driving cars, writing texts, understanding languages, assisting each other, … an automated – an autonomous – task.

When writing “Innovation doesn’t happen in IT” last year around the same time, I was overwhelmed by the fact, that we’re commencing to leave an age where IT was to be a discipline in itself. It is in these days, that we sense an even stronger move into IT being ubiquitous, the nexus of forces being felt in our every-day lifes and IT becoming servant of what’s really important.

I’m hoping for it being a humble servant!

 

(download the full Gartner Hype Cycle of Emerging Technologies Report here)

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