How will emerging tech affect your company?

Gartner has looked ahead at how emerging technologies will affect the business landscape, including the Semantic Web, social-network analysis and mashups
Written by Tom Espiner, Contributor

Analyst firm Gartner has released its emerging technologies hype cycle for 2006.

The hype cycle, which can be seen below, is Gartner's way of showing how technology enjoys hype and endures disillusionment before being accepted into the fold. It focuses on a number of emerging technologies.

The architecture behind the corporate Semantic Web, which enables computers to read the contents of Web pages and make connections between data as readily as people do, is tipped by Gartner to reduce costs and improve the quality of content management, information access, system interoperability, database integration and data quality.

The use of semantic markup languages such as Resource Description Framework, Web Ontology Language and topic maps in corporate Semantic Web environments will take five to 10 years to reach maturity, Gartner predicted.

The buzz around "Web 2.0", a collection of Internet trends that includes embracing user-created content and shared revenue models, is right at the peak of Gartner's hype cycle, and is tipped to slide into the "trough of disillusionment" in under two years.

However, various components of Web 2.0 will be embraced by companies, according to Gartner. Firms will increasingly analyse massive amounts of information from multiple sources to deduce social networks, then data-mine the resulting information. This social-network analysis was recently used by the US National Security Agency (NSA) in a wiretapping operation that outraged many Americans.

Gartner said social-network analysis can be used successfully by businesses to identify target markets and create successful project teams, and is predicted to become standard practice within two years.

Another element of Web 2.0 due to be embraced by companies within two years is the mashup — where multiple applications or content is combined into a single entity. Mashups can be used in a corporate environment to quickly "meet tactical needs with reduced development costs and improved user satisfaction", said Gartner.

However, Gartner warned that because mashups combine data and logic from multiple sources, they're vulnerable to any failures that affect the source material.

AJAX (Asynchronous Javascript and XML), a Web-development technique for creating interactive web applications, is already used by many developers. It is likely to have a major impact on the corporate space within two years, Gartner said. However, to have a major positive impact, companies would need to combine other innovations in usability and rely on services such as Google Maps, which offer free server-side processing.

Mesh networking based on sensors, such as ZigBee, is a long-term proposition for mass uptake, according to Gartner. Companies may be keen to deploy a low-cost mesh network, which could organise or reorganise itself, but they should proceed with caution.

"The market is still immature and fragmented, and there are few standards, so suppliers will evolve and equipment could become obsolete relatively rapidly," said Gartner. 

Gartner's emerging technology hype cycle, 2006


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