Pop quiz: which of the following tech terms have drawn the most hype this year?
1.) Big Data
2.) 3D Printing
3.) Activity Streams
4.) Internet TV
5.) Cloud Computing
If you answered “all of them,” you’d be correct: research firm Gartner’s new 2012 Hype Cycle of Emerging Technologies identified all the above (along with a few other terms, such as “Near Field Communication” and “media tablets”) as terms attracting a good deal of buzz in the tech world.
Gartner uses the report to monitor the rise, maturity and decline of certain terms and concepts, the better for corporate strategists and planners to predict how things will trend over the next few months or years. As part of the report, Gartner’s analysts have built a Hype Cycle, seen above, which positions technologies on a graph tracing their rise, overexposure, inevitable fall, and eventual rehabilitation as quiet, productive, well-integrated, thoroughly un-buzz-worthy technologies.
Right now, Gartner views hybrid cloud computing, Big Data, crowdsourcing, and the “Internet of Things” as on the rise (i.e., positioned along the “Technology Trigger” portion of the research firm’s Hype Cycle), while private cloud computing, social analytics and the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) phenomenon are coasting at the Peak of Inflated Expectations.
In Gartner’s estimation, cloud computing has entered the Trough of Disillusionment stage of the Hype Cycle, although it retains more cachet than firmly past-the-freshness-date technologies such as home health monitoring and virtual worlds. Even as its hype fades, though, cloud computing can look further along the curve to the Slope of Enlightenment—when businesses discover the true utility of the technology, without the confusing hype and buzzwords—and then the Plateau of Productivity, where it can join predictive analytics as technologies people use without chattering incessantly about it on Twitter.
“The theme of this year’s Hype Cycle is the concept of ‘tipping points,’” Hung LeHong, a research vice president at Gartner, wrote in an August 16 statement accompanying the data. “We are at an interesting moment, a time when many of the scenarios we’ve been talking about for a long time are almost becoming reality.”
LeHong cited smartphones as a specific example of this almost-there technology: while your handset can perform a variety of dizzyingly advanced functions, including searching in response to spoken questions, those functions are often rough around the edges. Look at Apple’s Siri, which sometimes provides confusing (or just plain funny) answers to vocal queries, or other smartphones’ mixed track record with facial recognition.
Gartner believes that cloud computing and private cloud computing will reach their plateau of productivity in 2 to 5 years, while hybrid cloud computing will take closer to 5 to 10 years. At that point, the inflated expectations—and the screaming hype—should be a thing of the past.