In "Gartner's Hype Cycle Special Report for 2009," the Stamford, Conn.-based IT research and advisory firm analyzes the maturity of 1,650 technologies in 79 technology, topic and industry areas. Each Hype Cycle provides a snapshot of key technologies and trends in a specific technology, topic, geographic region or industry domain, according to Gartner.

The "Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies" is the longest-running annual Hype Cycle, according to Gartner, "providing a cross-industry perspective on the technologies and trends that IT managers should consider in developing emerging-technology portfolios." This Hype Cycle features technologies that are the focus of attention in the IT industry because of particularly high levels of hype, or those that may not be broadly acknowledged but that Gartner believes have the potential for significant impact.

"Technologies at the 'Peak of Inflated Expectations' during 2009 include cloud computing, e-books (such as from Amazon and Sony) and Internet TV (for example, Hulu), while social software and microblogging sites (such as Twitter) have tipped over the peak and will soon experience disillusionment among enterprise users," said Jackie Fenn, vice president and Gartner fellow, and co-author of the book "Mastering the Hype Cycle."

While cloud computing may be at its pinnacle of hype, Fenn notes that it is one of a number of "potentially transformational technologies" -- including Web 2.0, Internet TV, virtual worlds and service-oriented architecture (SOA) -- that will become mainstream in the next five years.

"Longer-term, beyond the five-year horizon, RFID, 3-D printing, context-delivery architectures, mobile robots and human augmentation will be transformational across a range of industries," she added.

'Deafening' Levels of Hype

The Gartner report offers this additional analysis on some of the technologies and trends at the Peak of Inflated Expectations that will reach the plateau in two to five years:

  • Cloud computing -- As enterprises seek to consume their IT services in the most cost-effective way, interest is growing in drawing a broad range of services (for example, computational power, storage and business applications) from the "cloud," rather than from on-premises equipment. The levels of hype around cloud computing in the IT industry are "deafening," with every vendor expounding its cloud strategy and variations -- such as private cloud computing and hybrid approaches -- compounding the hype, according to Gartner.
  • E-book readers -- Sony's e-book reader and Amazon's Kindle have attracted a great deal of attention in 2009. However, the devices still suffer from proprietary file formats and digital rights management technologies, which, along with price, are limiting their adoption and will drive them into the "Trough of Disillusionment," according to Gartner.
According to the report, the following technologies and trends have tipped just past the Peak of Inflated Expectations:
  • Social software suites -- Due to the popularity of related consumer social software and Web 2.0 services, awareness of social technology is high. Within businesses, there is growing evidence of experimentation and early production deployments, according to Gartner. The movement from point tools to integrated suites has brought broader adoption but also high expectations. "Disillusionment is beginning based on the realization that, even with a suite, much work must be done to build an effective social software deployment," Gartner asserts.
  • Microblogging -- Microblogging, in general, and Twitter, in particular, have exploded in popularity during 2009 to the extent that the inevitable disillusionment around "channel pollution" is beginning. "As microblogging becomes a standard feature in enterprise social software platforms, it is earning its place alongside other channels (for example, e-mail, blogging and wikis), enabling new kinds of fast, witty, easy-to-assimilate exchanges," Gartner explains.
Gartner introduced the Hype Cycle in 1995 as a commentary on the common pattern of human response to technology. Gartner's Hype Cycle characterizes the typical progression of an emerging technology, from over-enthusiasm through a period of disillusionment to an eventual understanding of the technology's relevance and role in a market or domain. Each phase is characterized by distinct indicators of market, investment and adoption activities.

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