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August 23, 2021

Gartner Shuffles the Technology Deck with Latest ‘Hype Cycle’ Report

(Indie Design/Shutterstock)

It’s the penultimate week of August, the dog days of summer are in full swing, and not much is happening in the tech world (save for some Hot Chips). Therefore, it must be time for the much-anticipated 2021 Gartner Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies.

Unveiled publicly for the first time today, Gartner’s 2021 Hype Cycle for Emerging Tech (seen above) features 25 technologies that it deems are “must know” product categories that stand to shape the competitive world for the next five to 10 years. It’s the culmination of research into more than 1,500 technologies that it tracks, so boiling it down to a couple of dozen couldn’t have been an easy task.

Gartner selected three themes for this year’s Hype Cycle: engineering trust, accelerating growth, and sculpting change. For each theme, it selected several key technologies that it believes will be instrumental in advancing technological development in that area.

Nearly all of the 30 technologies Gartner listed in its 2020 Hype Cycle for Emerging Tech failed to return for the 2021 list. Only three–generative AI, data fabric, and multi-experience—returned under the exact same name for 2021 (although some of the technology descriptions from 2020 and 2021 are similar, if not exactly the same).

Among the AI, ML, and data-centric categories from the 2020 hype cycle that did receive an invite for the 2021 campaign are: explainable AI; embedded AI; composite AI; adaptive ML; generative adversarial networks (GANs); social data; and self-supervised learning.

Other 2020 categories that Gartner abandoned this year include: two-way brain-machine interface (BMI); DNA computing and storage; low-cost single-board computers at the edge; health passport; biodegradable sensors; packaged business capabilities; secure access service edge (SASE); social distancing technologies; carbon-based transistors; bring your own identity; and ontologies and graphs.

Click to enlarge the 2021 Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies (Source: Gartner) 

Digital twin of the person and citizen twin, which appeared in 2020, appear to have been replaced by digital humans. Similarly, composable applications appears to replace composable enterprise; AI-augmented software engineering appears to replace AI augmented development; and AI-augmented design replaces AI-assisted design. Differential privacy appears to be replaced by homomorphic encryption (a related technology).

New to the list in 2021 are quantum ML; physics-informed AI; named data networking; machine readable legislation; digital platform conductor tools; influence engineering; employee communications applications; decentralized finance; composable networks; self-integrating applications; sovereign cloud; non-fungible tokens (NFTs); real-time incident center as a service; active metadata management, and decentralized identity.

“This Hype Cycle provides a high-level view of important emerging trends that organizations must track, as well as the specific technologies that must be monitored through the themes of Trust, Growth and Change,” Gartner’ Research Vice President Philip Dawson stated in a press release.

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