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Nicole Klemp

It’s been a year of ups and downs… The U.S. won 46 gold medals in Rio, we said goodbye to the champ, and we spent a great deal of time talking about politics on social media. But while the election got a lot of attention this year, our friends at Gartner Research concerned themselves with a different kind of hype. Each year, they release their Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies to explain what’s on the rise, which technologies are currently peaking, and which ones have plateaued.

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What’s new this year?

Understanding the maturity level of different technologies and applications is important when determining if and when it’s a good idea to implement them into your business strategies. As technology becomes more human-centric, Gartner predicts it will begin to create more transparency between people, businesses, and things. Nearly all the emerging technologies that currently appear on the Hype Cycle have the power to create entirely new business models and transform the way people live and work. Sixteen new technologies were added to the Hype Cycle this year, including 4 that we think live up to the hype — blockchain, machine learning, smart workspace, and personal analytics.

Blockchain. In traditional transactions, banks act as money middlemen. With blockchain, buyers and sellers can connect directly — removing the need for a 3rd party. Cryptography keeps these exchanges secure, and blockchain provides a decentralized database — or “digital ledger” — of transactions that everyone on the network (a chain of computers) can see. Each computer in the network must approve an exchange before it can be processed.

blockchain

According to Gartner, blockchains’ ability to store multiple bank transactions in one centralized ledger will have a transformational impact on businesses in the coming years. “Right now, blockchain is gaining traction because it holds the promise to transform industry operating models. It is also one example of an enabling technology of the platform revolution trend.”

Machine learning. Smart machine technologies are expected to be some of the most disruptive of the next decade. Their computational power and scalability make them valuable to enterprises and contribute to their addition to this year’s Hype Cycle. Machine learning will have an impact on every industry; it will change the way we produce goods, how we serve customers, and will have a tremendous impact on the future of work.

Smart workspaces. Another emerging technology that will affect the future of work is the smart workspace. As the Internet of Things (which has it’s entirely own Hype Cycle) continues to evolve, items and tools that workers use — and the environments in which they work — will become digitized, creating opportunities for more efficient worker experiences. “In the average office, electronic whiteboards and strategically placed beacons and sensors will help deliver personalized information to workers based on proximity,” Gartner predicts.

Personal analytics. With smart phones, wearables, and countless other personal devices, we are constantly creating personal data. This data can be informative and useful to us in our daily lives — like tracking our steps to improve physical fitness —  and is extremely valuable to marketers who wish to customize the Customer Experience with targeted, personalized content. The more connected we become, the more important it is to have access to technologies that can help us harness the data that we create.

There’s no “one-size-fits-all” solution when it comes to technology strategy. To take advantage of the opportunities that these emerging technologies present, CIOs and other business leaders must strive to understand how (and when) they will impact their industries, and determine which ones can create competitive advantage.

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