Hyped technologies for 2006

Gartner tips Web 2.0 for the trough

Don't invest in a technology just because it is being hyped, and don't ignore a technology just because it is not living up to early expectations. So says Gartner, which today released its annual hype cycle for emerging technologies.

The cycle assesses the maturity, impact and adoption speed of 36 key technologies and trends during the next 10 years.

It puts Web 2.0 at what Gartner calls the "peak of inflated expectations" – although technologies like mobile phone payments and enterprise Instant Messaging have matured from the "trough of disillusionment" to climb the "slope of enlightenment".

Each technology takes a path from a trigger point – when the product is launched and generates press interest, up to the peak of inflated expectations, down into the trough of disillusionment, after failing to meet these expectations, and then up the slope towards the "plateau of productivity".

This year's hype cycle highlights three major themes that are experiencing significant activity and which include new or heavily hyped technologies, where organisations may be uncertain as to which will have most impact on their business: Web 2.0, Real World Web, and Applications Architecture.

1. Web 2.0

Web 2.0 is a collective term for internet technologies and business models that, for the most part, let people collaborate and share information online. Particular focus has been given to user-created content, lightweight technology, service-based access and shared revenue models.

Web 2.0 technologies rated by Gartner as having transformational, high or moderate impact include:

Social Network Analysis (SNA) is the use of information and knowledge from many people and their personal networks. It involves collecting massive amounts of data from multiple sources, analysing the data to identify relationships and mining it for new information. It enables new ways of performing vertical applications that will result in significantly increased revenue or cost savings for an enterprise. Gartner rates it as high impact and capable of reaching maturity in less than two years.

Gartner said SNA can successfully impact a business by being used to identify target markets, create successful project teams and serendipitously identify unvoiced conclusions.

Ajax is also rated as high impact and capable of reaching maturity in less than two years. Ajax is a collection of techniques that web developers use to deliver an enhanced, more responsive user experience in the confines of a modern browser (for example, recent version of Internet Explorer, Firefox, Mozilla, Safari or Opera).

A narrow-scope use of Ajax can have a limited impact in terms of making a difficult-to-use web application somewhat less difficult. However, even this limited impact is worth it, says Gartner, and users will appreciate incremental improvements in the usability of applications.  High levels of impact and business value can only be achieved when the development process encompasses innovations in usability and reliance on complementary server-side processing (as is done in Google Maps).

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Next page: 2. Real World Web