Gartner’s special 20th anniversary Hype Cycle maps the journey to digital business

As the Gartner Hype Cycle celebrates its 20th year, the analyst house said that as organisations set out on the journey to becoming digital businesses, identifying and employing the right technologies at the right time will be critical.

Gartner's 2014 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 119 areas. New Hype Cycles this year include Digital Workplace, Connected Homes, Enterprise Mobile Security, 3D Printing and Smart Machines.

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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 business strategists, chief innovation officers, R&D leaders, entrepreneurs, global market developers and emerging technology teams should consider in developing emerging-technology portfolios.

'The Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies 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 said have the potential for significant impact,' said Jackie Fenn, vice president and Gartner Fellow. 'Companies should use this Hype Cycle to identify which technologies are emerging and use the concept of digital business transformation to identify which business trends may result.'

'The central theme for this year's Emerging Technologies Hype Cycle is Digital Business. As enterprises embark on the journey to becoming digital businesses, they will leverage technologies that today are considered to be 'emerging,' said Hung LeHong, vice president and Gartner Fellow. 'Understanding where your organisation is on this journey and where you need to go will not only determine the amount of change expected for your enterprise, but also map out which combination of technologies support your progression.'

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As set out on the Gartner road map to digital business, there are six progressive business era models that enterprises can identify with today and to which they can aspire in the future: analog, web, e-business, digital marketing, digital business, and autonomous

Since the Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies is purposely focused on more emerging technologies, it mostly supports the last three of these stages: digital marketing, digital business and autonomous.

Digital marketing

The digital marketing stage sees the emergence of the Nexus of Forces (mobile, social, cloud and information). Organisations in this stage focus on new and more sophisticated ways to reach consumers, who are more willing to participate in marketing efforts to gain greater social connection, or product and service value.

Buyers of products and services have more brand influence than previously, and they see their mobile devices and social networks as preferred gateways. Organisations at this stage grapple with tapping into buyer influence to grow their business.

Digital business

Digital business is the first post-nexus stage on the road map and focuses on the convergence of people, business and things. The Internet of Things and the concept of blurring the physical and virtual worlds are strong concepts in this stage. Physical assets become digitalised and become equal actors in the business value chain alongside already-digital entities, such as systems and apps.

3D printing takes the digitalisation of physical items further and provides opportunities for disruptive change in the supply chain and manufacturing. The ability to digitalise attributes of people (such as the health vital signs) is also part of this stage. Even currency (which is often thought of as digital already) can be transformed (for example, cryptocurrencies).

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Autonomous represents the final post-nexus stage. This stage is defined by an organisation's ability to leverage technologies that provide humanlike or human-replacing capabilities. Using autonomous vehicles to move people or products or using cognitive systems to write texts or answer customer questions are all examples that mark the Autonomous stage.

'Although we have categorized each of the technologies on the Hype Cycle into one of the digital business stages, organisations should not limit themselves to these technology groupings,' said Mr LeHong. 'Many early adopters have embraced quite advanced technologies, such as autonomous vehicles or smart advisors, while they continue to improve nexus-related areas, such as mobile apps – so it's important to look at the bigger picture.'

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...