By Hung LeHong and Jackie Fenn
Imagine this: As you leave for work in the morning, your house automatically turns down the heat and places an order for milk (connected home) and your virtual personal assistant (VPA) alerts you that Cindy will be late to your 9 a.m. meeting and besides, the forecast you prepared has already changed (big data). You allow your car to navigate the traffic to your office (smart machines and Internet of Things [IoT]) while you manage the latest crisis. In this scenario, much of the possibility stems from the growth of digital business and continued adoption of the related technologies as they move through the Gartner 2014 Emerging Technologies Hype Cycle.
Now in its 20th year, the Gartner Hype Cycle tracks technologies as they journey from their Innovation Trigger stage to the Peak of Inflated Expectations then down to the Trough of Disillusionment and finally, to the Slope of Enlightenment and Plateau of Productivity. As organizations plan their journeys to becoming digital businesses, the 2014 Emerging Technologies Hype Cycle helps them understand both the technologies on the horizon as well as those that have reached more widespread adoption. This is important for CIOs, business leaders and strategists to spot opportunities as well as threats from competitors.
Changes in the 2014 Emerging Technologies Hype Cycle
Smart Machines Trigger Innovation
Technologies early on the Hype Cycle, including virtual personal assistants (VPA), the connected home and smart robots, will disrupt current behaviors and business processes. It will take 5 to 10 years for these technologies to reach mainstream adoption, yet the hype surrounding their potential drives innovation to deliver on their promise.
Internet of Things Rises to Peak of Inflated Expectations
What will slow rapid adoption of IoT? Standardization, including data standards, wireless protocols and technologies. A wide number of consortiums, standards bodies, associations and government/region policies around the globe are tackling the standards issues. Ironically, with so many entities each working on their own interests, we expect the lack of standards to remain a problem over the next three to five years.
In contrast, dropping costs of technology, a larger selection of IoT-capable technology vendors and the ease of experimenting continue to push trials, business cases and implementations of IoT forward.
Big Data Moves Over the Peak
The big data market is settling into a more reasonable approach in which new technologies and practices are additives to existing solutions and creating hybrid approaches when combined with traditional solutions.
Watch out, big data’s passage through the Trough of Disillusionment will be fast and brutal. Tools and techniques are being adopted before expertise is available, and before they are mature and optimized, which is creating confusion. This will result in the demise of some solutions and complete revisions of some implementations over the next three years.
Elements of the work scenario described earlier, such as forecasting from big data, may be possible today. Others, such as the connected home and smart machines, remain on a longer horizon to adoption. Yet, as some of these technologies progress along the Hype Cycle, they will drive enterprises to become digital businesses. This is particularly true for smart machines, IoT, 3D printing and wearables. Combined, digital business technologies will transform enterprises and entire industries.
Hung LeHong and Jackie Fenn are both vice presidents and Gartner Fellows at Gartner. They will speak about digital business technologies and innovation at the upcoming Gartner Symposium/ITxpo 2014.