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August 26, 2015

Why Gartner Dropped Big Data Off the Hype Curve

When Gartner published its latest “Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies” last week, there was a notable absence of one broad class of technology in particular: big data. The reasoning behind the move may surprise you.

Big data has been a fixture on the Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies for several years. In 2013, as big data-mania set in, the technology was near the “Peak of Inflated Expectations.” A year later, as the shine started wearing off, big data started slipping down into the “Trough of Disillusionment.”

If the pattern held, this year we’d expect to see big data near the bottom of the trough, or perhaps starting to climb the “Slope of Enlightenment” on its way to the tech promised land, or the “Plateau of Productivity.”

But, alas, it wasn’t to be, because big data pulled off the biggest surprise yet. That is, it disappeared completely. Betsy Burton, the Gartner analyst who authored the report, discussed the decision to pull big data in a video on the Gartner website.Hype Cycle_2015_1

“There’s a couple of really important changes,” Burton says. “We’ve retired the big data hype cycle. I know some clients may be really surprised by that because the big data hype cycle was a really important one for many years.

“But what’s happening is that big data has quickly moved over the Peak of Inflated Expectations,” she continues, “…and has become prevalent in our lives across many hype cycles. So big data has become a part of many hype cycles.”

Burton elaborated on that decision in an interview with Alison Diana, the managing editor of EnterpriseTech, which is Datanami‘s sister publication.

“I would not consider big data to be an emerging technology,” she says. “This hype cycle is very focused. I look at emerging trends.”

Burton pull quoteFewer technologies made the grade in Burton’s eyes. This year’s Hype Cycle contained just 37 emerging technologies, compared to 44 technologies in last year’s Hype Cycle, 43 in 2013, and 46 in 2012.

Other notable subtractions from this year’s Hype Cycle include prescriptive analytics, data science, and complex event processing. Notable additions include machine learning, citizen data science, and advanced analytics with self-service delivery.

Insofar as big data is a megatrend that touches so many aspects of our interactions with computers–from the Internet of Things and content analytics to cloud computing and virtual reality (all hype-full categories in Gartner’s eyes)—Burton’s view makes a lot of sense. But for those in the data storage and analytics industry who use the phrase “big data” and expect others to nod in agreement, taking big data off the hype curve may seem a bit premature.

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