You won’t be surprised to learn that blockchain, still five to ten years from mainstream adoption, nears the peak of the Gartner Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies, 2016. With its ability to store multiple bank transactions in one centralized ledger, accessible by all parties and regulated by a decentralized network, blockchain will have a transformational impact on business. While bitcoin steals the show as the only proven blockchain, the term blockchain has grown to encapsulate nearly two dozen distributed-ledger products with more than two dozen offerings in the market, thus the hype.
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, one of the three trends along with transparently immersive experiences and perceptual smart machine age highlighted in the Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies 2016.
The Gartner Hype Cycle is designed to help organizations separate the hype and bold promises of new technology from the technologies that are commercially viable. Depending on individual risk appetite and industry, this cycle enables leaders to become educated about the promise of an emerging technology.
“Enterprise architects who are focused on technology innovation must evaluate these high-level trends and the featured technologies, as well as their potential impact — value and risk — on their businesses,” said Mike Walker, research director at Gartner.
Transparently immersive experiences
With most companies focusing on 3D printing applications in the business world, others are looking ahead even further to 4D printing, where materials are coded with a dynamic capability. Using this new shape-shifting material, a sports apparel company could design an adaptive running shoe with a sole that adjusts to wet pavement versus dry pavement to improve grip. Using the same idea, medical companies could design self-assembling stents to reduce surgery times and improve patient outcome. The building industry could design walls that adjust thickness during the winter to increase insulation.
50% of the transparently immersive experiences technologies are at or over the peak, which means they are headed toward the Trough of Disillusionment.
Along with 4D printing, the transparently immersive experiences trend includes virtual reality, gesture control devices and nanotube technologies, and looks to introduce transparency between people, businesses and things. As technology becomes more adaptive, the lines between these three groups will blur and technology will continue to evolve in the work, home and within interactions.
Transparently immersive experiences are of particular interest because 50% of the technologies are at or over the peak, which means they are headed toward the Trough of Disillusionment.
“We can see how the transparently immersive experience technologies such as affective computing, connected home, augmented reality, virtual reality and the growing human augmentation, are pulling the other trends along the Hype Cycle,” said Mr. Walker.
Perceptual smart machine age
The workplace of the future might look a little different than current setups. With the evolution of the Internet of Things (IoT), smart workspaces can digitize physical things and use programmability of physical environments to create a more efficient work experience. Using this technology, an insurance professional could use a digital pen that interacts directly with back-end processing systems. In the average office, electronic whiteboards and strategically placed beacons and sensors will help deliver personalized information to workers based on proximity.
The perceptual smart machine age includes more familiar technologies such as autonomous vehicles, commercial UAVs and smart dust and will be the most disruptive class of technologies over the next 10 years. Radical computational power, near-endless amounts of data and unprecedented advances in deep neural networks are enabling organizations to use smart machines to adapt and solve problems.
What if machines were capable of doing things most people think only humans can do? Neuromorphic hardware will mean that smart machines will become even smarter and more useful by emulating the functions of biological neurons. Machines will be able to tag, contextualize and react to language, content and people’s behaviors. This will allow them to add substantial value to what people do. Neuromorphic hardware represents a technology in the third trend — platform revolution.
Emerging technologies are redefining how companies see and use platforms. While technology continues to evolve toward connectivity and ecosystem-enabling platforms, businesses must look to understand and redefine strategies to exploit these opportunities. Alongside blockchain and neuromorphic hardware, the platform revolution includes technologies such as general purpose machine intelligence.
These technologies are enabling highly disruptive business models, enabling organizations to pursue digital business innovation. Each shows promise in delivering a high degree of competitive advantage over the next five to 10 years. IT leaders should examine how these technologies could impact their industries, and decide which to pursue to create a competitive advantage for their company.