Gartner Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies, 2013

Gartner’s 2013 Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies Maps Out Evolving Relationship Between Humans and Machines

2013 Hype Cycle Special Report Evaluates the Maturity of More Than 1,900 Technologies

Gartner to Host Complimentary Webinar “Emerging Technologies Hype Cycle for 2013: Redefining the Relationship,” August 21 at 10 a.m. EDT and 1 p.m. EDT

The evolving relationship between humans and machines is the key theme of Gartner, Inc.’s “Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies, 2013.” Gartner has chosen to feature the relationship between humans and machines due to the increased hype around smart machines, cognitive computing and the Internet of Things. Analysts believe that the relationship is being redefined through emerging technologies, narrowing the divide between humans and machines.

Gartner’s 2013 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 98 areas. New Hype Cycles this year include content and social analytics, embedded software and systems, consumer market research, open banking, banking operations innovation, and information and communication technology (ICT) in Africa.

The Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies report is the longest-running annual Hype Cycle, providing a cross-industry perspective on the technologies and trends that senior executives, CIOs, strategists, innovators, business developers and technology planners should consider in developing emerging-technology portfolios.

“It is the broadest aggregate Gartner Hype Cycle, featuring technologies that are the focus of attention because of particularly high levels of hype, or those that Gartner believes have the potential for significant impact,” said Jackie Fenn, vice president and Gartner fellow.

“In making the overriding theme of this year’s Hype Cycle the evolving relationship between humans and machines, we encourage enterprises to look beyond the narrow perspective that only sees a future in which machines and computers replace humans. In fact, by observing how emerging technologies are being used by early adopters, there are actually three main trends at work. These are augmenting humans with technology — for example, an employee with a wearable computing device; machines replacing humans — for example, a cognitive virtual assistant acting as an automated customer representative; and humans and machines working alongside each other — for example, a mobile robot working with a warehouse employee to move many boxes.”

“Enterprises of the future will use a combination of these three trends to improve productivity, transform citizen and customer experience, and to seek competitive advantage,” said Hung LeHong, research vice president at Gartner. “These three major trends are made possible by three areas that facilitate and support the relationship between human and machine. Machines are becoming better at understanding humans and the environment — for example, recognizing the emotion in a person’s voice — and humans are becoming better at understanding machines — for example, through the Internet of things. At the same time, machines and humans are getting smarter by working together.”

Figure 1. Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies, 2013

Gartner Hype Cycles 2013

Source: Gartner August 2013

The 2013 Emerging Technologies Hype Cycle highlights technologies that support all six of these areas including:

1. Augmenting humans with technology

Technologies make it possible to augment human performance in physical, emotional and cognitive areas. The main benefit to enterprises in augmenting humans with technology is to create a more capable workforce. For example, consider if all employees had access to wearable technology that could answer any product or service question or pull up any enterprise data at will. The ability to improve productivity, sell better or serve customer better will increase significantly. Enterprises interested in these technologies should look to bioacoustic sensing, quantified self, 3D bioprinting, brain-computer interface, human augmentation, speech-to-speech translation, neurobusiness, wearable user interfaces, augmented reality and gesture control.

2. Machines replacing humans

There are clear opportunities for machines to replace humans: dangerous work, simpler yet expensive-to-perform tasks and repetitive tasks. The main benefit to having machines replace humans is improved productivity, less danger to humans and sometimes better quality work or responses. For example, a highly capable virtual customer service agent could field the many straightforward questions from customers and replace much of the customer service agents’ “volume” work — with the most up-to-date information. Enterprises should look to some of these representative technologies for sources of innovation on how machines can take over human tasks: volumetric and holographic displays, autonomous vehicles, mobile robots and virtual assistants.

3. Humans and machines working alongside each other

Humans versus machines is not a binary decision, there are times when machines working alongside humans is a better choice. A new generation of robots is being built to work alongside humans. IBM’s Watson does background research for doctors, just like a research assistant, to ensure they account for all the latest clinical, research and other information when making diagnoses or suggesting treatments. The main benefits of having machines working alongside humans are the ability to access the best of both worlds (that is, productivity and speed from machines, emotional intelligence and the ability to handle the unknown from humans). Technologies that represent and support this trend include autonomous vehicles, mobile robots, natural language question and answering, and virtual assistants.

The three trends that will change the workforce and the everyday lives of humans in the future are enabled by a set of technologies that help both machine and humans better understand each other. The following three areas are a necessary foundation for the synergistic relationships to evolve between humans and machines:

4. Machines better understanding humans and the environment

Machines and systems can only benefit from a better understanding of human context, humans and human emotion. This understanding leads to simple context-aware interactions, such as displaying an operational report for the location closest to the user; to better understanding customers, such as gauging consumer sentiment for a new product line by analyzing Facebook postings; to complex dialoguing with customers, such as virtual assistants using natural language question and answering to interact on customer inquiries. The technologies on this year’s Hype Cycle that represent these capabilities include bioacoustic sensing, smart dust, quantified self, brain computer interface, affective computing, biochips, 3D scanners, natural-language question and answering (NLQA), content analytics, mobile health monitoring, gesture control, activity streams, biometric authentication methods, location intelligence and speech recognition.

5. Humans better understanding machines

As machines get smarter and start automating more human tasks, humans will need to trust the machines and feel safe. The technologies that make up the Internet of things will provide increased visibility into how machines are operating and the environmental situation they are operating in. For example, IBM’s Watson provides “confidence” scores for the answers it provides to humans while Baxter shows a confused facial expression on its screen when it does not know what to do. MIT has also been working on Kismet, a robot that senses social cues from visual and auditory sensors, and responds with facial expressions that demonstrate understanding. These types of technology are very important in allowing humans and machines to work together. The 2013 Hype Cycle features Internet of Things, machine-to-machine communication services, mesh networks: sensor and activity streams.

6. Machines and humans becoming smarter

The surge in big data, analytics and cognitive computing approaches will provide decision support and automation to humans, and awareness and intelligence to machines. These technologies can be used to make both humans and things smarter. NLQA technology can improve a virtual customer service representative. NLQA can also be used by doctors to research huge amounts of medical journals and clinical tests to help diagnose an ailment or choose a suitable treatment plan. These supporting technologies are foundational for both humans and machines as we move forward to a digital future and enterprises should consider quantum computing, prescriptive analytics, neurobusiness, NLQA, big data, complex event processing, in-memory database management system (DBMS), cloud computing, in-memory analytics and predictive analytics.

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Gartner 2012 Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies

Big data, 3D printing, activity streams, Internet TV, Near Field Communication (NFC) payment, cloud computing and media tablets are some of the fastest-moving technologies identified in Gartner Inc.’s 2012 Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies.

Gartner analysts said that these technologies have moved noticeably along the Hype Cycle since 2011, while consumerization is now expected to reach the Plateau of Productivity in two to five years, down from five to 10 years in 2011. Bring your own device (BYOD), 3D printing and social analytics are some of the technologies identified at the Peak of Inflated Expectations in this year’s Emerging Technologies Hype Cycle (see Figure 1).

Gartner’s 2012 Hype Cycle Special Report provides strategists and planners with an assessment of the maturity, business benefit and future direction of more than 1,900 technologies, grouped into 92 areas. New Hype Cycles this year include big data, the Internet of Things, in-memory computing and strategic business capabilities.

The Hype Cycle graphic has been used by Gartner since 1995 to highlight the common pattern of overenthusiasm, disillusionment and eventual realism that accompanies each new technology and innovation. The Hype Cycle Special Report is updated annually to track technologies along this cycle and provide guidance on when and where organizations should adopt them for maximum impact and value.

The Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies report is the longest-running annual Hype Cycle, providing a cross-industry perspective on the technologies and trends that senior executives, CIOs, strategists, innovators, business developers and technology planners should consider in developing emerging-technology portfolios.

“Gartner’s Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies targets strategic planning, innovation and emerging technology professionals by highlighting a set of technologies that will have broad-ranging impact across the business,” said Jackie Fenn, vice president and Gartner fellow. “It is the broadest aggregate Gartner Hype Cycle, featuring technologies that are the focus of attention because of particularly high levels of hype, or those that Gartner believes have the potential for significant impact.”

“The theme of this year’s Hype Cycle is the concept of ‘tipping points.’ 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,” said Hung LeHong, research vice president at Gartner. “The smarter smartphone is a case in point. It’s now possible to look at a smartphone and unlock it via facial recognition, and then talk to it to ask it to find the nearest bank ATM. However, at the same time, we see that the technology is not quite there yet. We might have to remove our glasses for the facial recognition to work, our smartphones don’t always understand us when we speak, and the location-sensing technology sometimes has trouble finding us.”

Figure 1. Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies, 2012


Source: Gartner (August 2012)

Although the Hype Cycle presents technologies individually, Gartner encourages enterprises to consider the technologies in sets or groupings, because so many new capabilities and trends involve multiple technologies working together. Often, one or two technologies that are not quite ready can limit the true potential of what is possible. Gartner refers to these technologies as “tipping point technologies” because, once they mature, the scenario can come together from a technology perspective.

Some of the more significant scenarios, and the tipping point technologies, need to mature so that enterprises and governments can deliver new value and experiences to customers and citizens include:

Any Channel, Any Device, Anywhere — Bring Your Own Everything

The technology industry has long talked about scenarios in which any service or function is available on any device, at anytime and anywhere. This scenario is being fueled by the consumerization trend that is making it acceptable for enterprise employees to bring their own personal devices into the work environment. The technologies and trends featured on this Hype Cycle that are part of this scenario include BYOD, hosted virtual desktops, HTML5, the various forms of cloud computing, silicon anode batteries and media tablets. Although all these technologies and trends need to mature for the scenario to become the norm, HTML 5, hosted virtual networks and silicon anode batteries are particularly strong tipping point candidates.

Smarter Things

A world in which things are smart and connected to the Internet has been in the works for more than a decade. Once connected and made smart, things will help people in every facet of their consumer, citizen and employee lives. There are many enabling technologies and trends required to make this scenario a reality. On the 2012 Hype Cycle, Gartner has included autonomous vehicles, mobile robots, Internet of Things, big data, wireless power, complex-event processing, Internet TV, activity streams, machine-to-machine communication services, mesh networks: sensor, home health monitoring and consumer telematics. The technologies and trends that are the tipping points to success include machine-to-machine communication services, mesh networks: sensor, big data, complex-event processing and activity streams.

Big Data and Global Scale Computing at Small Prices

This broad scenario portrays a world in which analytic insight and computing power are nearly infinite and cost-effectively scalable. Once enterprises gain access to these resources, many improved capabilities are possible, such as better understanding customers or better fraud reduction. The enabling technologies and trends on the 2012 Hype Cycle include quantum computing, the various forms of cloud computing, big data, complex-event processing, social analytics, in-memory database management systems, in-memory analytics, text analytics and predictive analytics. The tipping point technologies that will make this scenario accessible to enterprises, governments and consumers include cloud computing, big data and in-memory database management systems.

The Human Way to Interact With Technology

This scenario describes a world in which people interact a lot more naturally with technology. The technologies on the Hype Cycle that make this possible include human augmentation, volumetric and holographic displays, automatic content recognition, natural-language question answering, speech-to-speech translation, big data, gamification, augmented reality, cloud computing, NFC, gesture control, virtual worlds, biometric authentication methods and speech recognition. Many of these technologies have been “emerging” for multiple years and are starting to become commonplace, however, a few stand out as tipping point technologies including natural-language question answering and NFC.

What Payment Could Really Become

This scenario envisions a cashless world in which every transaction is an electronic one. This will provide enterprises with efficiency and traceability, and consumers with convenience and security. The technologies on the 2012 Hype Cycle that will enable parts of this scenario include NFC payment, mobile over the air (OTA) payment and biometric authentication methods. Related technologies will also impact the payment landscape, albeit more indirectly. These include the Internet of Things, mobile application stores and automatic content recognition. The tipping point will be surpassed when NFC payment and mobile OTA payment technologies mature.

The Voice of the Customer Is on File

Humans are social by nature, which drives a need to share — often publicly. This creates a future in which the “voice of customers” is stored somewhere in the cloud and can be accessed and analyzed to provide better insight into them. The 2012 Hype Cycle features the following enabling technologies and trends: automatic content recognition, crowdsourcing, big data, social analytics, activity streams, cloud computing, audio mining/speech analytics and text analytics. Gartner believes that the tipping point technologies are privacy backlash and big data.

3D Print It at Home

In this scenario, 3D printing allows consumers to print physical objects, such as toys or housewares, at home, just as they print digital photos today. Combined with 3D scanning, it may be possible to scan certain objects with a smartphone and print a near-duplicate. Analysts predict that 3D printing will take more than five years to mature beyond the niche market.

Additional information is available in “Gartner’s Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies, 2012″ at http://www.gartner.com/hypecycles. The Special Report includes a video in which Ms. Fenn provides more details regarding this year’s Hype Cycles, as well as links to the 92 Hype Cycle reports.

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