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Driving your organization down the road to digital business? If you are, Gartner has identified seven emerging and established technologies that may help assure a smoother journey.

The recently published 2014 Gartner Hype Cycle Special Report identifies them as: Internet of Things and operational technologies, mobile infrastructure, enterprise mobility management (EMM), analytics, big data, social and cloud. But don’t get too hooked on these goodies, because there are more technologies just starting to emerge.

The report is the result of an evolution of over 2000 technologies, services and trends in 119 different areas over the past year.

What's Hot, What's Not

Generally speaking, hype cycle reports offer a snapshot of the relative maturity of technologies, IT methodologies and management disciplines. The report also highlights over-hyped areas and estimates how long technologies and trends will take to reach maturity.

They also provide buyers with insight into the expectations that surround innovations. With something that is evolving as quickly as the Internet of Things, that is key to preparing enterprises for the IT shockwave that is heading in their direction.

According to Gartner, the hype cycles help organizations to determine the right time to invest in a technology, or services, based on their business needs and risk tolerance, rather than based on the market perception and promotion of value.

This is the 20th year Gartner has published hype cycles, with a number of new reports being added to the collection this year including: Digital Workplace, Connected Homes, Enterprise Mobile Security, 3D Printing and Smart Machines.

Peaked Out

Gartner has identified the following technologies as having reached their peak in the cycle over the past year:

  • Data Science
  • Smart Advisors
  • Autonomous Vehicles
  • Speech-to-Speech Translation
  • Internet of Things
  • Natural-Language Question Answering
  • Wearable User Interfaces
  • Consumer 3D Printing
  • Cryptocurrencies
  • Complex-Event Processing

The hype cycle also follows the evolution of technologies from the initial excitement around the emergence of the technology to its incorporation into the mainstream as a core enterprise technology.

According to Gartner, 10 percent of these technologies are considered transformational for businesses, while a further 40 percent were identified as high impact technologies. All are progressing through the cycle at a very rapid rate.

Gartner assessed their position on the cycle based on position, time to plateau, rating and adoption rate. Its goal was to find common themes and trends by looking at the technology, service and discipline profiles that moved significantly year over year.

Report authors Betsy Burton and David A. Willis said they had found that the nexus of forces of social, mobile, cloud and information management had significant impact on the technology profiles that had changed most over the course of the year.

It is also worth noting that while the hype cycle focuses on the progress of emerging technologies as they move towards mainstream adoption, leaving the cycle does not mean that the technologies are being replaced, or set aside, for something else. It just means that they have entered the mass market where they may, or may not, be experiencing rapid adoption.

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From Trigger To Peak

For enterprises, it is important to be aware of the technologies, or forces, that are driving the push from entry to peak position.

According to Gartner, vendors are likely to bring these technologies up in discussions and feature them in marketing materials or road maps. In all, there were four sets of umbrella technologies that were pushing specific technologies along the hype cycle from trigger position (entry position on hype cycle) to peak, or even post-peak over the past year. They were:

1. IoT and Operational Technologies

One of the big emerging business opportunities for digital businesses is the impact of technologies that operate on the physical world.

Think Nest Labs here and you get an idea of what Gartner is talking about. While a large number of those technologies are not new, they have been newly connected to the IoT and are expected to have a high impact, or even transformational impact, on wider business community when they become established. Many are industry specific, like advanced metering infrastructure, or in-vehicle networks for automobiles.

2. Mobile Infrastructure

Mobile is becoming the primary vehicle for business applications. Using it, organizations can reach more users and include themselves into more business use cases than previous technologies. The increasing use of devices among consumers and increasing interest in mobile applications makes the upward movement of mobile technologies inevitable. The cycle shows key mobile infrastructure enablers moving rapidly, including 5G wireless or heterogeneous networking.

3. Enterprise Mobility Management 

Associated with this rise is the emergence of EMM suites across the cycle. It has moved 16 places this year and is now over the peak largely because of the rapid adoption of mobile technology in the enterprise and the realization that data in mobile environments needs to be protected.

4. Analytics

All these technologies are dovetailing with the rise of analytics, which is pushing a large number of technologies across the hype cycle and into the mainstream. Gartner cites the example of business analytics PaaS (bPaaS), which is the delivery of analytics capabilities and tools as a service. It moved up 12 positions, from right above the trigger point to just below the peak. Analytics is one of the primary drivers in bringing the worlds of IT and operational technologies together as more enterprises look to analytics of diverse data to improve decision making across the supply chain.

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5. Big Data

Big data and data management have both moved over the hype peak as more and more enterprises turn to them to big data applications to manage and analyze increasingly large quantities of data.

While big data is over the peak, it is still very much in demand across enterprises as the market has settled into a reasonable set of approaches to developing and deploying big data strategies. Consistent data management, which includes technologies for supporting complex, global-case and Web-scale applications, moved along the cycle along with big data as the two are closely linked.

Gartner points out that the move of analytics up the cycle, combined with big data’s move over the cycle’s peak indicates that the role of technology supporting big data sets to using those data sets to make business decisions.

6. Social

Many profiles associated with engagement initiatives, aka social computing impacts, are still climbing. These include social capital, social employee recognitions systems and social magazines.

However, many social technologies moved over the peak as it finally became clear to companies that achieving business outcomes using these technologies is more difficult than they thought. However, this movement indicates that they are now becoming the norm and part of other business initiatives like digital business.

One of the big movers is external peer-to-peer communities — virtual places for collaboration among people and organizations in the market ecosystem outside of the enterprise. Another is social procurement tools that moved nine places beyond the peak.

7. Cloud

Many of the cloud technologies like cloud access security, cloud application development services and cloud integration platform services are all still moving towards the peak, but there is a large number of cloud profiles that have peaked and are on the way down.

These include cloud computing, private cloud computing and hybrid cloud. Hybrid cloud refers to the use of cloud services across isolation and provider boundaries among public, private and community service providers, or between internal and external cloud services.

However, Gartner cites immaturity and complexity as holding it back. Personal cloud computing, or the use of the cloud by individuals so they can access their content on any device is also heading for the trough of mainstream acceptance.

Meanwhile mobile cloud (the use of mobile cloud access to support information on many different mobile devices) is over the peak.

These are only some of the main technologies that have been assessed in this list and which have an impact on emerging and established business models. For a wider overview check the aggregated Hype Cycle Special Report for 2014. 

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