Latest Hype Cycle Offers SMB Hope - InformationWeek
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12/21/2010
03:02 PM
Lamont Wood
Lamont Wood
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Latest Hype Cycle Offers SMB Hope

Gartner's annual gauge of what's real and what's hype shows some real productivity tools could be maturing soon.

Gartner's annual gauge of what's real and what's hype shows some real productivity tools could be maturing soon.Productivity tools that could make life easier for SMBs, such as speech recognition and Internet micropayments, could be just over the horizon, according to the latest Hype Cycle report from Gartner.

If you've already heard of speech recognition and micropayments, that's sort of the point of the report. It racks new technologies from the moment of introduction, and then up the steep "Peak of Inflated Expectations" as they're over-hyped. (That's where you probably heard of them.) After they can't live up to the hype, Gartner follows them on a roller-coaster ride almost straight down into the "Trough of Disillusionment." After that it's a slow climb back up the "Slope of Enlightenment" as the public learns realistic expectations, until the technology finally reaches the "Plateau of Productivity" where expectation and reality finally reconcile.

The chart additionally shows how long Gartner thinks it will be before the technology in question reaches mainstream adoption.

Technologies that might be of interest to SMBs that are currently climbing the Slope of Enlightenment (and all with less than five years until mainstream adoption) are pen-centric tablet PCs, speech recognition, location-aware applications, Internet micropayments, and virtual assistants.

Broadband over powerlines is shown as just starting up the slope, but labeled "obsolete before plateau." I find this disheartening since I use it in my office to eliminate the need for Ethernet cables. It does work, obsolete or not.

Shown as crashing down the slope from the Peak of Inflated Expectations to the Trough of Disillusionment are video tele-presence, e-book readers, microblogging, and the cloud. All should reach the mainstream within five years.

Climbing the Peak of Inflated Expectations is a traffic jam over-hyped tech, including 3D displays, 4G wireless, and 3D printing.

You can quibble with each and every point on the graph, but what I like about Gartner's annual Hype Cycle is that someone is making a point of reminding us that the emperor has no clothes. Hype is part of the process of technology introduction-but we have to keep that in mind lest we lose sight of reality.

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