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Gartner Hype Cycle 2010 – Emerging Technologies

What is in there and what is not

If you are interested in emerging technology, you must be waiting for the yearly hype cycle to be published by Gartner. They have released a presentation which outlines the 2010 Gartner Hype Cycle on Emerging Technology. Is it an interesting document? It sure is! Does it have an element of surprise? Yes it does!

(If you are new to Gartner Hype Cycle, there is a short explanation towards the end of this post)

This report from Gartner is meant to guide enterprises on which emerging technologies to invest in. It is suppose to indicate where to put your money so that you can get the maximum benefit.

But, can you rely on this report? You could assume that since the report is from Gartner, it must be reliable. However, if you are pragmatic, you would want to check the accuracy of their past predictions and you would like to see some consistency in the predictions. That is when you will start getting your doubts. Let me give few examples:

  1. If a technology has appeared, for 3 years in a row (2007 to 2009) as Transformational you would not expect it to suddenly disappear from the list. However, that is precisely what happened to Web 2.0 and SOA. These two technologies have simply disappeared from the list. Neither of them had entered the Plateau of Productivity. There is also no indication that they have become Obsolete before Plateau. So, what happened to them? Is Web 2.0 Dead or Is It Thriving?
  2. Of the 7 technologies listed under Slope of Enlightenment, four do not appear in last year’s list. These technologies are – Predictive Analytics, Interactive TV, Internet Micropayment Systems and Biometric Authentication Methods. Where did they come from? Are these new terminologies? Not really. So, why where they not appearing in the past reports?
  3. Only 50% of the technologies mentioned in this year’s hype cycle had found a place in last year’s list. (Year wise consistency figures are given at the end of this post)

So, what is my recommendation? Before you use this report for decision making, I suggest that you perform your own analysis and compare it with past reports.

For those of you who are not familiar with Gartner’s Hype-Cycle
Here is a short explanation.

The assumption behind it is that every new technology creates an initial hype when everybody is talking about it. As a result an inflated expectation gets created around that technology. Since new technologies take time to mature and deliver value, it very rarely lives up to the initial hyped expectation. Therefore, after a peak of inflated expectation disillusionment follows till it reaches a trough. After this, some technologies dies a natural death and are forgotten. However, there are some which starts delivering value and people starts adopting them. When sufficient number of people adopts it, the technology is said to have reached the mainstream. The hype-cycle is represented as a graph and each technology of interest is plotted on the graph. Gartner also predicts the timeframe of each technology to reach mainstream.

In addition to the Hype Cycle, Gartner also publishes a Priority Matrix which puts all the listed technologies into a 4×4 grid. On the x-axis you have “years to main stream adoption” which is, from left to right, less than 2 years, 2 to 5 years, 5 to 10 years and more than 10 years. On the y-axis you have “benefit” which is, from top to bottom, transformational, high, medium and low. So, the top left corner will be the most important cell which will contain the list of “Transformational technologies to mature in less than 2 years“. Its adjacent columns will be next in importance, which are “Transformational technologies to mature in 2 to 5 years” and “High impact technologies to mature in less than 2 years“.

How consistent is the hype cycle compared to previous years?
This is how I measure consistency. I count all the technologies mentioned in the current year’s hype cycle. Then I count the number of those technologies which was also mentioned in last year’s hype cycle. The ratio expressed as a percentage is the degree of consistency. Here are the consistency figures from year 2004 onwards.

  • 2010 – 50%
  • 2009 – 62%
  • 2008 – 44%
  • 2007 – 52%
  • 2006 – 47%
  • 2005 – 43%
  • 2004 – 46%

BTW: Here are some of my earlier posts on hype cycle:

More Stories By Udayan Banerjee

Udayan Banerjee is CTO at NIIT Technologies Ltd, an IT industry veteran with more than 30 years' experience. He blogs at http://setandbma.wordpress.com.
The blog focuses on emerging technologies like cloud computing, mobile computing, social media aka web 2.0 etc. It also contains stuff about agile methodology and trends in architecture. It is a world view seen through the lens of a software service provider based out of Bangalore and serving clients across the world. The focus is mostly on...

  • Keep the hype out and project a realistic picture
  • Uncover trends not very apparent
  • Draw conclusion from real life experience
  • Point out fallacy & discrepancy when I see them
  • Talk about trends which I find interesting
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