The journey to digital business is the key theme of this year’s Gartner Hype Cycle. As the Gartner Hype Cycle celebrates its 20th anniversary, the research firm highlighted that as enterprises set out on the journey to becoming digital businesses, identifying and employing the right technologies at the right time will be critical. In their latest report, Gartner crowned the Internet of Things and Natural-Language Question Answering as the two most hyped technologies with both expected to reach their respective “plateaus of productivity” (when they are will become mainstream).
Gartner’s 2014 Hype Cycle special report provides strategists and planners with an assessment of the maturity, business benefit and future direction of more than 2,000 technologies, grouped into 119 areas. Among the new Hype Cycles this year include Digital Workplace, Connected Homes, Enterprise Mobile Security, 3D Printing and Smart Machines.
“The central theme for this year’s Emerging Technologies Hype Cycle is Digital Business. As enterprises embark on the journey to becoming digital businesses, they will leverage technologies that today are considered to be ’emerging,'” explained Hung LeHong, Vice President and Gartner fellow. “Understanding where your enterprise is on this journey and where you need to go will not only determine the amount of change expected for your enterprise, but also map out which combination of technologies support your progression.”
According to industry analysts at Gartner, the IoT is forecasted to reach 26 billion installed units by 2020, up from 0.9 billion just five years ago, and will impact the information available to supply chain leaders and how the supply chain operates, depending on industry. Gartner anticipates a 30-fold increase in connected physical devices by 2020, which will continue to create a network rich with information that enables supply chains to assemble and communicate in new ways.
However, the analysts have pointed to a lack of standardization in the area, as well as the changing nature of the technology itself, as a factor in why widespread adoption of IoT may take longer than anticipated. “Standardization (data standards, wireless protocols, technologies) is still a challenge to more-rapid adoption of the IoT,” Gartner’s Hung LeHong writes.
Highlighted on the Gartner road map to digital business, there are six progressive business era models that enterprises can identify with today and to which they can aspire in the future:
- Stage 1: Analog
- Stage 2: Web
- Stage 3: E-Business
- Stage 4: Digital Marketing: The Digital Marketing stage sees the emergence of the Nexus of Forces (mobile, social, cloud and information). Enterprises in this stage focus on new and more sophisticated ways to reach consumers, who are more willing to participate in marketing efforts to gain greater social connection, or product and service value. Buyers of products and services have more brand influence than previously, and they see their mobile devices and social networks as preferred gateways. Enterprises at this stage grapple with tapping into buyer influence to grow their business. Technologies included in the Digital Marketing stage range from software-defined anything and big data to virtual reality and gesture control.
- Stage 5: Digital Business: Digital Business is the first post-nexus stage on the road map and focuses on the convergence of people, business and things. The Internet of Things and the concept of blurring the physical and virtual worlds are strong concepts in this stage. Physical assets become digitalized and become equal actors in the business value chain alongside already-digital entities, such as systems and apps. 3D printing takes the digitalization of physical items further and provides opportunities for disruptive change in the supply chain and manufacturing. The ability to digitalize attributes of people (such as the health vital signs) is also part of this stage. Even currency (which is often thought of as digital already) can be transformed (for example, cryptocurrencies). Digital Business technologies range from enterprise 3D printing and bioprinting systems to wearable user interfaces and connected homes.
- Stage 6: Autonomous: Autonomous represents the final post-nexus stage. This stage is defined by an enterprise’s ability to leverage technologies that provide humanlike or human-replacing capabilities. Using autonomous vehicles to move people or products or using cognitive systems to write texts or answer customer questions are all examples that mark the Autonomous stage. Technologies that fall within the Autonomous category include virtual personal assistants and smart robots to biochips and autonomous vehicles.
“Although we have categorized each of the technologies on the Hype Cycle into one of the digital business stages, enterprises should not limit themselves to these technology groupings,” LeHong said. “Many early adopters have embraced quite advanced technologies, such as autonomous vehicles or smart advisors, while they continue to improve nexus-related areas, such as mobile apps – so it’s important to look at the bigger picture.”
From home automation and smart metering to wearables and other IoT applications, a new generation of embedded products will increasingly power our lifestyle, as depicted by the Hype Cycle. Atmel is making it easier for designers to create a more intelligent, more connected world through its recently-unveiled Atmel® | SMART™ brand of ARM-based microcontrollers and expanded SMART portfolio. These solutions include embedded processing and connectivity — as well as software and tools — designed to make it faster and more cost-effective to bring smart products to market. Atmel | SMART MCUs combine powerful 32-bit ARM cores with industry-leading low-power technology and intelligent peripherals.
To explore the latest emerging technologies, you can access Gartner’s entire “Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies 2014” report here.