The dog days of August are here, which can only mean one thing: It’s time for Gartner’s Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies! The 2022 version includes numerous data and AI technologies among its 25 entries, including data observability and the metaverse. But which tech has the staying power to survive the hype?
Gartner produces many hype cycles–click here to read Jaime Hampton’s take on Gartner’s hype cycle for the integration platform as a service (iPaaS) market. But the hype cycle for emerging tech is unique because it distills the respected analyst group’s collective insight into more than 2,000 technologies it tracks into a set of two dozen “must-know” topics that have the potential to move the needle for early adopters over the next two to 10 years.
Gartner grouped its 2022 Hype Cycle around three themes that it sees playing outsize roles in today’s tech landscape. They include immersive experiences, AI automation, the optimizing how technologists deliver new tech.
Tech to watch in the immersive experiences category include metaverse, non-fungible tokens (NFTs), super apps and Web3, decentralized identity, digital humans, digital twin of the customer, and internal talent marketplaces. In AI automation, Gartner advises keeping an eye on tech like autonomic systems, causal AI, foundation models, generative design AI, and machine learning code generation.
Meanwhile, technologists will lean on a host of things to help them with the delivery of new digital products and services, including: computational storage, data observability, OpenTelemetry, observability driven development, cloud data ecosystems, cloud sustainability, cybersecurity mesh architecture, dynamic risk governance, industry cloud platforms, minimum viable architecture, platform engineering, and augmented FinOps.
“All technologies on this Hype Cycle are at an early stage,” Gartner Distinguished VP Analyst Gary Olliffe says in a press release, “but some are nascent and great uncertainty exists about how they will evolve. Such technologies present greater risks for deployment, but potentially greater benefits for early adopters who can assess and exploit them in line with their organization’s ability to handle unproven technologies.”
The metaverse, which refers to virtual reality and augmented reality (listed on emerging tech hype cycles of the past), is predominantly a consumer-oriented technology. However, because of its enormous potential, big tech firms are pounding their stakes into the ground now in hopes of being ready when the technology matures (still more than 10 years from now, per Gartner). The metaverse is also being spied as a potential new delivery vehicle for real-time analytic insights, and the potential around data collection is huge.
Data observability has been on the of hottest topics of the past two years, and is a topic that we’re expecting to keep making news in the second half of 2022. We also applaud Gartner including OpenTelemetry in its new hype cycle, as the technology has emerged as a standard that vendors of data and IT observability and application performance management (APM) tools can agree on.
Casual AI, meanwhile, is an emerging field that looks to take the AI field beyond the application of statistical probabilities and into modeling the actual cause and effect of phenomena. In the field of predicting human behavior, causal AI can help policymakers to avoid making “devastating…mistakes” wrought by the age-old error of confusing correlation with causation, researchers with the Surgo Foundation wrote in “The Case for Causal AI,” which was published two years ago in the Stanford Social Innovation Review.
Computational storage is an emerging tech that sees the addition of processors within the confines of the storage device. These computational storage devices (CSDs), such as the new SmartSSD that Samsung plans to ship later this year, can offload processing and acceleration from servers, thereby reducing the strain on CPUs and saving network bandwidth.
Gartner has also picked up on the recent activity around cloud data ecosystems, which is something we’re also tracking at Datanami. Industry giants like AWS and Snowflake have an early lead in the category, but new data marketplaces are popping up quickly, such as the one that Databricks launched less than two months ago.
Other tech included in the 2022 list, including things like observability-driven development–in which the state and behavior of system before, during, and after development is tracked–have the potential to help accelerate the development of better, more responsive, and more secure applications.
One thing that concerns us is that only three of the technologies listed on the 2021 Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies returned in 2022. That makes it hard to gauge how Gartner is tracking the development of these emerging technologies over time (alas, we are not paying subsribers).
NFTs and Decentralized Identify, which were neck and neck in the 2021 Hype Cycle, are still tied at the hip, but they moved further off the Peak of Inflated Expectations and are headed directly toward the Trough of Disillusionment, with two to five years still before they climb out of the Slope of Enlightenment towards the holy Plateau of Productivity. Digital Humans, meanwhile, stayed about where it was in 2021: firmly planted on the climb to the Peak of Inflated Expectations following the Innovation Trigger, with a 10-plus year wait to reach the promised land.
Technologies that we wish were still included on the Hype Cycle include: quantum ML, homomorphic encryption, physics-informed AI, AI augmented design, active metadata management, and data fabric. We also wonder whatever happened to smart dust, which used to be a perennial contender in Gartner’s annual mid-summer compilation but has apparently been relegated to the dustbin of tech history.