What’s hot and what’s not

Gartner research group has unveiled its annual ‘emerging technologies hype cycle’, which suggests that at present podcasting is hot, hot, hot, while desktop searching has now stopped wowing users.

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By  Matthew Wade Published  August 25, 2005

Gartner research group has unveiled its annual ‘emerging technologies hype cycle’, which suggests that at present podcasting is hot, hot, hot, while desktop searching has now stopped wowing users. Gartner’s ‘2005 Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies’ assesses the maturity, impact and adoption speed of 44 technologies and trends over the coming decade, including topics as diverse as corporate blogging to carbon nanotubes and speech recognition. Gartner’s so-called technology ‘Hype Cycle’ itself is, in effect, a market (or marketing based) perception of how ‘hot’ a technology is in the minds of the industry and consumers at any one time. The stages of this cycle include: conception (‘Technology Trigger’); market over-enthusiasm (‘Peak of Inflated Expectations’); period of disillusionment (‘Trough of Disillusionment’); to an eventual understanding of the technology’s relevance (named ‘the slope of enlightenment’), and finally, the ‘plateau of productivity, where hype meets usefulness and day-do-day usage. So what’s hot, what’s supposedly hot but actually lukewarm, and which technologies are users becoming disillusioned with? Here’s an overview: Podcasting - the process of users producing independent radio shows and then offering them for download or syncing to other users’ mobile devices – is very much in the ascendant ‘technology trigger’ stage, as the media talks up the trend, related web sites rapidly spring up, and assertions abound that podcasting could spark the beginning of a major slump for traditional radio and even TV subscriptions. “Podcasting will grow increasingly important as the market for content continues to fragment, which will lead to a massive shift in radio, and ultimately TV content delivery,” Gartner claimed. Podcasting, it reckons, could also become an important corporate communications tool. Peer to Peer (P2P) Voice over IP (VoIP) services, such as those offered by Skype, Net2Phone and so on, are currently riding the ‘peak of inflated expectations’. Consumers love the idea of using their fast internet connections to slash phone bills, yet Windows Middle East for one has found that in reality, such services can be low quality and their client software affected by niggles and bugs. “Vendor-proprietary P2P VoIP applications are under development although security concerns still need to be addressed. Services like Skype currently enjoy significant consumer adoption and are beginning to make inroads into the business landscape,” claimed Gartner. Meanwhile ‘desktop searching’ (also known as personal knowledge searching) has passed its hype peak, according to Gartner, and has since begun sliding down the slippery slope towards the ‘trough of disillusionment’. In terms of this technology – which lets users search all the content on a PC using one simple search tool - Google, Microsoft and Yahoo are all competing for customer attention, however Gartner’s view is that customers are not exhibiting much interest in buying solutions. Gartner claims its Emerging Technologies Hype Cycle - one of 68 hype cycles released by Gartner this year - can provide a valuable aid to strategic planners who advise their respective organisations on the adoption of emerging technologies. “Every year since 1995, we have been publishing an Emerging Technologies Hype Cycle and applied the model to an ever increasing number of IT and business domains,” said Jackie Fenn, Gartner fellow and creator of the first Emerging Technology Hype Cycle in 1995. “The IT industry is awash with hype and buzz words and Gartner's Emerging Technologies Hype Cycles cuts through this to offer an independent overview of the relative maturity of technologies in any given domain,” added Alexander Linden, research vice president at Gartner. “It provides not only a scorecard to separate hype from reality, but also models that help enterprises to decide when they should adopt a new technology.” Do you think Gartner’s conclusions are correct? How do these trends and technologies relate to your computing life? Forward your thoughts, comments and arguments to windows@itp.com.

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