When the analysts at Gartner began publishing their Emerging Technologies Hype Cycle graphic seventeen years ago tablet computers weren’t anywhere on the chart. Nor were most of the enabling and offshoot technologies found in the latest edition published earlier this month.
This newest assessment of the maturity, business benefit and future direction of more than 1,900 technologies addresses a number of tablet-related hardware and software developments. In addition to charting individual technologies along a continuum running from Technology Trigger to Plateau of Productivity, Gartner’s Emerging Technologies Hype Cycle report encourages us to consider their results in groupings of related, interdependent technologies—and at least two of these are of significant interest to the tablet-focused among us.
Before getting into the groups, here is how Gartner defines each of the Hype Circles, the five phases of a technology’s life cycle:
“Technology Trigger: A potential technology breakthrough kicks things off. Early proof-of-concept stories and media interest trigger significant publicity. Often no usable products exist and commercial viability is unproven.
Peak of Inflated Expectations: Early publicity produces a number of success stories—often accompanied by scores of failures. Some companies take action; many do not.
Trough of Disillusionment: Interest wanes as experiments and implementations fail to deliver. Producers of the technology shake out or fail. Investments continue only if the surviving providers improve their products to the satisfaction of early adopters.
Slope of Enlightenment: More instances of how the technology can benefit the enterprise start to crystallize and become more widely understood. Second- and third-generation products appear from technology providers. More enterprises fund pilots; conservative companies remain cautious.”
Plateau of Productivity: Mainstream adoption starts to take off. Criteria for assessing provider viability are more clearly defined. The technology’s broad market applicability and relevance are clearly paying off.”
Bring your own anything: still a few years out.
What do silicon anode batteries, virtual desktops and HTML5 have in common? All are considered “tipping point” factors (among a host of others) in what Garter calls the Any Channel, Any Device, Anywhere scenario. Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), discussed at length elsewhere on this blog, and (not surprisingly) media tablets are at the center of this topic as well, though not considered tipping points. The batteries are still back at Tech Trigger stage; BYOD and HTML5 are at the top of the hype curve, while virtual desktops currently languish in the Trough of Disillusionment. Gartner says that tipping point will likely be reached in two to five years.
As I’ve discussed in previous posts, I strongly believe workable BYOD won’t be feasible for some time—and Gartner apparently agrees.
A cashless world: coming soon?
A number of technologies appearing somewhere on Gartner’s hype curve will impact the trend toward a world where every payment is electronic. Mobile over-the-air (OTA) payment and Near Field Communication (NFC) technologies—which my colleague Jonathan Mulder has written about previously—are considered tipping points for the scenario, and the two are at opposite ends of the Disillusionment stage. NFC is still five to 10 years away from its plateau, while OTA could level off in as soon as two years.
Put another way, Google wallet on your tablet is coming much sooner than tapping (or bumping) ThinkPads with a sales clerk to complete a transaction. Other tablet-centric technologies bound to play a role here include mobile app stores (just entering the peak-hype Disillusionment stage) and biometric authentication methods (much closer to its productivity plateau).
Tablets and human beings.
One other noteworthy scenario covered by the Gartner report: human/machine interaction. This grouping encompasses technologies like speech-to-speech translation, gesture control and (there it is again) NFC. While the topic doesn’t focus specifically on mobile devices, we’re already seeing tablets take the lead in touch and voice recognition. In a world where Gartner sees people interacting more naturally with technology, tablets will likely continue to play an important role.
It’s interesting to see how tablet technology development and adoption are reflected in Gartner’s report. If you haven’t time to read the full document, you can review this convenient summary of the Gartner Hype Cycle report. How closely do you think the report tracks with the realities you see in your organization?