In a recent webinar, Gartner identified what it considers the most hyped emerging technologies for the coming year. Innovative and trendy for sure, this annual disclosure can give pause to even the most cutting edge IT groups. And that’s the point.
Topping the list is Bring-Your-Own-Everything. This trend is increasingly familiar within IT groups as more employees expect to use their personal devices to do business, whether at work or on the road. And today, most people have more than one device which means more devices for IT to manage. The hype here, as Gartner sees it, is that the technologies are still maturing and not yet working together seamlessly. Today, there are separate applications for Android, Apple, and Blackberry, for example. Not only that, IT must integrate security features to protect the corporate network and proprietary information while enabling access for the mobile workforce and dynamic work environment.
Another big trend is Machine-to-Machine (M2M). The Internet, quite simply, is making machines smarter. Just name an industry, and one can see the transformations. Vending machines are remotely connected to the Internet, sending real-time inventory information, location, and time of sale. Retailers use M2M devices on the floor to enhance the customer experience. These devices enable salespeople to move around and meet customers near product displays, look up inventory and product information, and even make sales right on the spot. Companies see the potential of M2M, yet Gartner considers it hyped because companies are still discovering how best to incorporate and make sense of the abundance of information (Big Data) which these machines can provide.
Lastly, one of the most interesting trends is how humans interact with technology. Not so long ago, touchscreens and swipe features were considered cutting edge. Now we have image recognition in search (think Google goggles) and natural language software that recognizes and understands what was said and is able to respond. The virtual movement too is completely changing how people work (think virtual keyboards and whiteboards). Lastly, technologies such as near-field communication (NFC) are enabling smartphones to become digital wallets. What makes these technologies part of the emerging technology hype cycle is that many are still in their infancy, and the markets are small and growing.
So why pay attention to the hype? The emerging technology hype cycle may best be used, recommends Gartner, as a reference to generate new ideas, and to explore and investigate opportunities, especially during strategy discussions between IT and business units. Ultimately, the decisions should be determined based on which technologies can transform business, reduce costs, create a new revenue stream, enhance a customer experience, or make a company more competitive.