A look at Gartner’s 2017 Hype Cycle report

For this post, I received input from colleagues who provided welcome alternative perspectives on this topic. We have written this piece together, and had a lot of fun doing so!

A year ago, we analysed Gartner’s 2016 Hype Cycle and the many different technologies predicted to be of interest to enterprises. Looking at Gartner’s recently released 2017 Hype Cycle, we see many new technologies that were not there before — technologies that appear to be thriving and that provide a shifted perspective on the world of IT.  This blog discusses that information provided by Gartner from my perspective and that of some of my colleagues, to help readers understand the strategies available to them in this complex world of technology.

There are 8 major technologies present in the new report that weren’t there last year. These include Artificial General Intelligence, Deep Learning, Deep Reinforcement Learning, Digital Twin, Cognitive Computing, Edge Computing, Serverless PaaS and 5G. To us, these all seem interrelated in the form of Artificial Intelligence and the Connected Mind.

If you are anything like us, and therefore curious about something you do not know about, you might have glanced at the above list and instinctively said, “Well, what on earth is Edge Computing?” These are devices that are out there in the world, happily collecting data in their own little way, but that need to connect up to the bigger picture somehow. Think of them as small brains on the edge of the technology. They connect remote and often small offices, hubs, machines, and people, to the larger organisation. Without these connections, Surveying, LIDAR, 3D Laser Scanning, Photogrammetry, or the collection and sensing of data would not be able to occur. Nor would we be able to facilitate types of future connections that we haven’t even envisaged yet. Edge collects and processes the type of data that we will enable us to colonise Mars, or any other planet we choose to visit. It is this Edge technology which will be useful for us over the next 10 years.

In our opinion, not all of the new technologies on the Hype Cycle this year seem to fit the “new” bill. For example, we can’t quite understand how Artificial General Intelligence hasn’t been included before now. And how is it still not predicted to plateau for another 10+ years? With the announcement from Google earlier this year about DeepMind’s progress in the AGI space, they’re pulling that figure back to 5-10 years tops. Or what about Digital Twin technology, which also debuted on this year’s list? We know that some of our clients are using this technology daily already, and deriving real-world benefits and value.

So what does that say about these “new” technologies? Maybe we shouldn’t be thinking of them as new at all, but rather that this year they have come into the spotlight for the first time, for one reason or another. So as individuals and as organisations, we all might want to keep an eye on these areas, as we expect there are great things to come in the not so distant future.

Technologies that are thriving are those which we are using on a daily basis, including Virtual and Augmented Reality. The world is thinking about AR technology as something that is real and here now, not something 10 years down the road. However, the swarms of people hunting for Dragonites at Kings Park (or whatever your particular local example of this might be) don’t quite make the best use case for enterprises looking to jump in on this trend. That’s where DXC’s AR.Labs comes in. The use cases for health, utilities, mining and many other industries coming out of the Melbourne-based team, on not only the HoloLens, but DAQRI helmet and RealWear technology, are paving the way forward for Enterprise AR. Take a look at some of the wonderful examples from AR.Labs.

The other areas of technologies which are thriving right now are Cognitive Advice and Neuromorphic hardware. They are moving at a rapid rate and really starting to thrive in this changing environment. We are starting to see, for example, where the medical industries have leveraged the use of AI, started to show advances, and started to prepare for cognitive and Neuro awareness. This is needed for organisations to radically and dramatically change the way in which they are working, for the better and for the future. We like to call this a thriving mind-set, where organisations are borrowing technologies already developed in other industries, and then applying them to new areas.

So what about the technology that hasn’t moved? We see a number on the Hype Cycle this year from the year before, with no (or very little) change to expected plateau times. This includes tech like Autonomous Vehicles and Smart Dust, among others. Autonomous vehicles are becoming more widely adopted every day. From the huge autonomous mining vehicles utilised around the world to Perth’s own autonomous bus developed by the RAC. It’s no surprise here that these are seen to be progressing as expected.

Smart Dust seems to be the next step after Edge Computing really takes off, which we can see this year it is gearing up to do. While this Smart Dust is already being developed around the world, it’s the ability to build off the foundation currently being laid by related technologies, which we expect will be the kick-starter for huge progress in this space in the next few years.

The reaction when it came to seeing the lack of acceleration of Drones in this category however, was, “doesn’t everyone own a drone?” Drone technology has absolutely flourished over the last year, both commercially and in the homes of people with the right passion. Take our very own Phil Matherson for example, a Young Professional here at DXC, and the amazing work he’s being doing with voice-activated Drones. We would definitely label this as one of the biggest thriving technologies for 2017.

The change we’ve seen in a year is scary, and yet exciting at the same time. Companies are going to need to develop their own thought leadership to be brave and bold over the next 5-10 years, if they’re going to be able to keep up. The technologies on Gartner’s Emerging Trends graph right now will not be there in 10 years’ time. The change just in the last year has proved this.

We believe that thinking in terms of 5-10, and 10+ years will need to change. In the future, we will need to be thinking within the immediate 2-5 year timeframe when considering our next steps in tech. Thinking beyond this may limit the use of technology available and the benefits that it can bring to an organisation now. We think that roadmaps and strategies will need to be reviewed every year, to ensure that the technologies being used today are still relevant in this constantly evolving industry.

An understanding of the new technology marketplace will also need to be undertaken every year, in order for a company to gain advantage. This is especially important considering that innovation won’t just be coming from humans anymore — there will be innovation coming from machines as well. Once Artificial Intelligence becomes widely adopted, there will be an impact on other technologies and areas which are even indirectly related to it, such as an increased need for data scientists and other resources. This could be the catalyst for the biggest state of change we have ever seen within the technology landscape.

We won’t even be able to see it happening. AI will suddenly become prominent everywhere, and it will be hard for us to tell the difference, or to catch up if we’ve been left behind. It will likely happen in the next five years. We probably just don’t realise how much AI already exists in our technology landscapes, as we use so many different terms for the same concept. The difference in the next five years, we think, is that AI, or the results of AI, will be in the board room, and being used to make fundamental business decisions.

Our biggest takeaway from this exploration: the questions that it’s made us ask ourselves. What does this mean for the future? If this is how much change and disruption we are seeing in just 12 months, what kind of changes to the technology landscape will our children (or future children) see as they grow up? If you have young children now, they will live and breathe the tech that’s on this year’s cycle. By the time they’re in the workforce, these things will have plateaued comfortably. What will be on the cycle when they sit down to analyse it?

For myself, if I end up having children, potentially still over 10 years away, how can we even begin to comprehend or predict the kind of world that they will live in? What will be the dynamics or relationships that will exist between humans and machines? It’s an extremely motivating and exciting, and yet chilling thought.

So, what did you think of this year’s Emerging Trends? Did they live up to your predictions? And where do you think we go from here? Please let us know in the comments!

Source: Gartner, Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies, 2017, 21 July 2017

Note: Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in its research publications, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings or other designation. Gartner research publications consist of the opinions of Gartner’s research organization and should not be construed as statements of fact. Gartner disclaims all warranties, expressed or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.


Courtney-Carr-headshotCourtney Carr is an Associate Consultant at DXC, where she focuses on change and project management, business analysis, strategic planning and innovation. She is also involved in DXC’s Authentic Leadership, Women in Leadership, Pride, Young Professionals, and Corporate Responsibility resource groups. Born and raised in Western Australia, Courtney has a passion for environmental conservation and social justice.

Comments

  1. AGI has less than a 1% market penetration and today’s AI has not been proven to possess the equivalent to human intelligence. That’s might bullish of you to believe we’ll reach that type of level of technological advancement and mass adoption of said technology within 2-5 years!

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