2012's 'Tipping Point' Technologies: Unlocking Long-Awaited Technology Scenarios

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The technology industry has long talked about scenarios in which any service or function is available on any device, at any time and anywhere. This scenario is being fueled by the consumerization trend that is making it acceptable for enterprise employees to bring their own personal devices into the work environment. The technologies and trends featured on this hype cycle that are part of this scenario include BYOD, hosted virtual desktops, HTML5, the various forms of cloud computing, silicon anode batteries and media tablets. Although all these technologies and trends need to mature for the scenario to become the norm, HTML5, hosted virtual networks and silicon anode batteries are particularly strong tipping point candidates.

Big Data, 3D printing, activity streams, Internet TV, Near Field Communication (NFC) payment, cloud computing and media tablets are some of the fastest-moving technologies identified in Gartner Inc.'s 2012 hype cycle for emerging technologies.

Gartner analysts said that these technologies have moved noticeably along the hype cycle since 2011, while consumerization is now expected to reach the plateau of productivity in two to five years, down from five to 10 years in 2011. Bring your own device (BYOD), 3D printing and social analytics are some of the technologies identified at the peak of inflated expectations in this year's emerging technologies hype cycle.

"The theme of this year's hype cycle is the concept of 'tipping points.' We are at an interesting moment, a time when many of the scenarios we've been talking about for a long time are almost becoming reality," said Hung LeHong, research vice president at Gartner. "The smarter smartphone is a case in point. It's now possible to look at a smartphone and unlock it via facial recognition, and then talk to it to ask it to find the nearest bank ATM. However, at the same time, we see that the technology is not quite there yet. We might have to remove our glasses for the facial recognition to work, our smartphones don't always understand us when we speak, and the location-sensing technology sometimes has trouble finding us."

Although the hype cycle presents technologies individually, Gartner encourages enterprises to consider the technologies in sets or groupings, because so many new capabilities and trends involve multiple technologies working together. Often, one or two technologies that are not quite ready can limit the true potential of what is possible. Gartner refers to these technologies as "tipping point technologies" because, once they mature, the scenario can come together from a technology perspective.


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