The latest Gartner Hype Cycle for Emerging Trends has been published and concludes a 10 year evaluation of the trends that made the list

In 2005 I had a conversation about Gartner Hype Cycles – how accurate were they? Had anybody ever bothered to look back and see if prior predictions came true? And so began an experiment. This year is the last update. 10 years of Gartner Hype Cycles for Emerging Technologies plotted in a table to see if the trends follow their predicted course.

The conclusion – it seems emerging trends do not easily fit a hype cycle.

For starters, the range is very broad. From popular buzzwords that have already been percolating for a year or more before joining the curve – new entrants this year include Data Science, Connected Home and Virtual Personal Assistants. To ideas barely ready to leave a sci-fi novel – last year’s newbies Smart Dust and Electrovibration have not returned. Quantum Computing has been listed for 10 years and still has a prediction of 10+ years to plateau. I quite agree with the prediction, but should it be on the curve? It’s not really managed the innovation trigger yet outside of academic research… Subjects go from generic concepts- Software-Defined Anything and Idea Management – to specific outcomes such as Solid State Drives and HTML5.

Quite a few trends are still evolving. Virtual reality may one day go mainstream but has been in the Trough of Disillusionment for 7 years now and not even Facebook’s acquisition of the Occulus Rift is going to lift it to the Plateau of Productivity anytime soon. Electronic paper/Digital ink disappeared after 2010 yet the emergence of new materials such as graphene suggests a new round of innovation is starting. Am quite surprised graphene isn’t on the curve yet given smart dust, biochips and silicon anode batteries have previously made the list. The smartphone was considered mature in 2007, just as the iPhone launched. And you can’t help but chuckle at seeing Tablet PCs on the slope of enlightenment before the iPad launched in 2010.

It seems that emerging trends rarely follow the simplicity of the hype cycle. Many will never reach the plateau of productivity or become obsolete before arrival. Instead they become a niche – for now at least – or adapt and become something quite different. Or turn out to be just a passing fad. Perhaps a fork in the road could highlight those alternative realities


To summarise changes in the 2014 hype cycle:

Trends listed for the first time this year Last year’s newbies that didn’t make a 2nd appearance Older trends that have fallen off the curve
  • Connected home
  • Crypto-currencies
  • Digital security
  • Smart workspaces
  • Smart advisors
  • Smart robots
  • Software-defined anything
  • Virtual personal assistants
  • Electrovibration
  • Location-aware intelligence
  • Smart Dust
  • Biometric authentication methods
  • Mesh networks: Sensor
  • Mobile Robots
  • Virtual Assistants
  • Trends still around after 10 years! Quantum computing, Augmented reality

You can view the table here


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