Something that sticks in the craw of most people who have obtained their information technology degree is hype. Vendors promise things that they can’t really deliver. Executives and users demand what they read about in a fawning article. And IT personnel are the ones who have to become the reality wet blanket, or else they are on the hook to deliver what may not yet be possible.
However, hype isn’t always bad. It can often help point out new technologies and practices that will become important in the future, giving you time to understand and learn them before you need to implement them. And according to at least one respected source, there are a half a dozen big ones that are just about to become big factors in technology’s impact on the world. And one source for a useful take on hype is the current Hype Cycle report from market analyst Gartner. These reports generally break hype down into a series of stages that sound amusing but that exhibit a great deal of common sense:
- Technology trigger
- Peak of inflated expectations
- Tough of disillusionment
- Slope of enlightenment
- Plateau of productivity
If technologies have some real promise, they eventually move through the stages of overexcited expectations and into the ability to deliver real use.
Some examples, as reported by ZDNet, are bring your own device to work (BYOD), 3-D printing, and social network analytics. The main point is that technologies receiving significant hype often get it because they offer a kernel of potential usefulness. And the sooner you can anticipate where things might go, the more prepared you can be. For example, if most IT shops had created strategies for BYOD, they might have solved such issues as security and maintenance in advance and had time to adapt to the new user device model on their own time tables rather than ones now dictated by users. According to Gartner, there are six general areas that about to see tipping points in terms of acceptance and use. These will eventually have an enormous impact on how consumers and companies use technology:
- Any device anywhere — A combination of BYOD, HTML 5, tablets, virtual desktops, and other devices will mean that data might be generated and used anywhere at any time through a multitude of activities. That will affect how companies have to design networks, data sources, and security.
- Smart planet — Mobile robots, big data, integration of telecommunications and computer-based information systems, complex event processing, autonomous vehicles, and mesh networks will create a connected Internet-aware layer atop all other technology.
- Global scale computing — The amount of analysis required by big data will need cloud computing, in-memory database systems, new types of database system design, and quantum computing for analysis and automated and augmented decision making systems.
- Human layer — The drive for simplicity will only continue. Systems and devices of all kinds need smarter interfaces that use voice, gesture, biometrics, near-field communications, and more effective and efficient designs aimed at intuitive human interaction.
- Currency — Forget the world of paper and metal money. Cash and credit become fluid terms, all tracked by electronics. Companies will have to be at the forefront of how industry handles payments.
- From digital to physical — Expect 3D printers to turn virtual concepts into physical objects. That has huge implications for manufacturing costs, distribution strategies, and product design.
Some of these concepts, like electronic currency, are already making strides. Others, like 3D printers everywhere, may be some years out. But now is the time to understand them so you, and your career, are ready when businesspeople realize that they need to stay current with the times.