Gartner identifies 3 themes to watch for in emerging technologies

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Sovereign cloud, NFT, Quantum, ML, generative AI and homomorphic encryption are among the tech to track, the firm said.

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Image: Gartner

Engineering trust, accelerating growth and sculpting change are the three predominant trends Gartner has selected for its Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies, 2021. They will drive organizations to explore emerging technologies such as nonfungible tokens (NFT), sovereign cloud, data fabric, generative AI and composable networks to help secure competitive advantage, the research firm said.

Gartner's hype cycle provides a high-level view of important emerging trends that organizations must track, along with the specific technologies that must be monitored through the themes of trust, growth and change, said Philip Dawson, research vice president at Gartner.

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Breaking down the three themes of emerging technology trends

Engineering Trust:  Trust demands security and reliability, Gartner said. However, it can also extend to building innovations as a resilient core and foundation for IT to deliver business value. This foundation must consist of engineered, repeatable, trusted, proven and scalable working practices and innovations.

For example, U.S. and Asian providers currently dominate the market for digital and cloud technology and services. As a result, many European companies store their data in these regions, which creates political uneasiness and concerns about retaining data control and complying with local regulations, Gartner said.

By utilizing a sovereign cloud, countries can achieve digital and data sovereignty, which will in turn provide legal requirements to apply data protection controls, residency requirements, protectionism and intelligence gathering, the firm said.

The technologies to watch to engineer trust are sovereign cloud, NFT, machine-readable legislation, decentralized identity, decentralized finance, homomorphic encryption, active metadata management, data fabric, real-time incident center and employee communications applications, according to Gartner.

Accelerating Growth: Only after the trusted core business is established can recovery and growth happen, the firm said. Organizations should balance technology risk with the appetite for business risk to ensure near-term objectives are attainable. Once the innovation-led core is scaling, accelerated growth extends delivery and value.

For example, generative AI is an emerging technology that the pharmaceutical industry is using to help reduce costs and time in drug discovery. Gartner predicts that by 2025, more than 30% of new drugs and materials will be systematically discovered using generative AI techniques. Generative AI will not only augment and accelerate design in many fields; it also has the potential to "invent" novel designs that humans may have otherwise missed.

To accelerate growth, the following technologies should be explored: multi-experience, industry cloud, AI-driven innovation, quantum machine learning (ML), generative AI and digital humans.

Sculpting Change: Change is traditionally disruptive and often is tied to chaos, but organizations can use innovations to sculpt change and bring order to chaos. The art is to anticipate and auto-tune to the needs of change.

For example, composable business applications enable a better match of application experiences to a changing, operational business context. Composable business, founded on composable application technology and built with composable thinking, positions organizations to recognize and exploit business opportunities, respond to unexpected disruptions, and meet customers' changing demands at their pace, retaining their loyalty.

Organizations looking to sculpt change should consider composable applications, composable networks, AI-augmented design, AI-augmented software engineering, physics-informed AI, influence engineering, digital platform conductor tools, named data networking and self-integrating applications.

"Technology innovation is a key enabler of competitive differentiation and is the catalyst for transforming many industries. Breakthrough technologies are continually appearing, challenging even the most innovative organizations to keep up," according to Brian Burke, research vice president at Gartner, in a statement. "Leading organizations will lean on the emerging technologies in this year's hype cycle to build trust and new growth opportunities against a background of continued strategic change and economic uncertainty."

Organizations must "cut through the hype surrounding emerging technologies" and accelerate change as they continue their focus on digital business transformation, said Melissa Davis, research vice president at Gartner.

Additional information is also available in the free Gartner webinar "The Gartner Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies, 2021."

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