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Don’t Believe The Hype: Cutting Through the 2012 Hype Cycle

Sogeti Labs
August 30, 2012

It cuts no ice. Despite the fact that the digital puzzle has now largely been outlined, modeled and dressed up with features, we still don’t see how things actually fit together. The economy, society, or life itself. At best, we recognize connections and immediately attach short-term consequences to them. But the next moment we replace them with other connections and implementations, just as easily. Gartner’s annual hype cycle borrows its raison d’être from such practices, even reinforcing them, unfortunately. You can find the Hype Cycle by Gartner here. SlowTech Should Be the Norm In the summer of 2012, we have again witnessed a number of ‘technologies’ that are new in relation to the previous hype cycle, although they may well have been present in earlier versions. The accompanying introduction literally says so. Gartner points out that we have to see a total of forty-eight 2012-‘technologies’ in all kinds of mutual linkage, depending on our interests and needs. But a clear overall picture is lacking, even if all the pieces of the puzzle are obviously available. Now that the digital puzzle has reached the culmination of its evolution, we have a good basis for distancing ourselves from all the technological frenzy. SlowTech should be much more the norm. The Puzzle: Apps, Analytics, Data, Media, Mobile, Social and Cloud It is not even a difficult puzzle, although it is an ingenious one, replete with history. Only the proper historical perspective – in this case, one covering 20 years – enables us to understand how things currently fit together digitally. It also allows us to understand how we can use this coherence as a basis for short-cyclic interventions and measures. Technology forms the foundation but the true concern, of course, is life itself. So it is handy to bring the ‘technologies’ together and to assign clear denominators. There are six of these: Apps, Analytics, (Big) Data, Media, Mobile and Social. With Cloud as number 7: the ‘ether’ in which digital life occurs, and not a 7th Heaven by the way. The Hype Cycle Is a Crushed Roller Coaster Following Gartner’s advice to examine their various ‘technologies’ above all in their context, we looked at the Big Data cluster, because this is now on the verge of a breakthrough, as many claim. Across practically the entire hype cycle roller coaster – ranging from ‘Inflated Expectations’ via ‘Disillusionment’ and ‘Enlightenment’ to ‘Plateau of Productivity’ – we encounter the following nine categories. To start with, Big Data itself, then Social Analytics, In-Memory Database Management Systems, Activity Streams, Audio Mining/Speech Analysis, In-Memory Analytics, Text Analytics, Speech Recognition and, finally, Predictive Analytics. The distribution of these coherent and occasionally inextricably linked connections, almost 20 per cent of all 2012-‘technologies’, is enormous. The nine categories simply cannot be differentiated other than on the basis of completely diverging argumentation. Thus, Gartner’s hype cycle is little more than a crushed roller coaster. At best, it is a Babylonian talking picture – while there is already more than enough confusion of tongues! The 10101st-Century Rubik’s Cube Instead of this, we wish to look at convergence: at the way in which our life is structured in digital terms. In business and private domains. MIT Media Lab director Nicholas Negroponte stated, as far back as 1995: ‘Computing is not about computers any more, it is about living.’ And that’s how it is: in this 10101st century, digital will be a component of life itself and will further shape that same life. The reciprocal relationship will be expressed in the connections between Apps, Analytics, (Big) Data, Media, Mobile and Social. These six are the nine-section faces of a Rubik’s Cube, the puzzle that currently represents our digital life. Clustered together to Social Media, Mobile Apps and (Big) Data Analytics, we have three corner sections that fit together to form the cube itself. You are at liberty to call the six nine-section faces what you please; this obviously depends on your interests and needs. Pervasive and Ubiquitous Computing As is known, a Rubik’s Cube is not a static entity but a dynamic one. In the core of our variant, Pervasive or Ubiquitous Computing – the concept from the nineties, devised by the deceased Xerox-CTO Mark Weiser – gives all six nine-section faces their flexibility. Nowadays we simply give the name ‘cloud’ to the core and the embellished entity, but Pervasive Computing is rightly making a remarkable revival at this moment, as illustrated by the IEEE magazine for ‘Mobile and Ubiquitous Systems’, for instance. Dozens or Hundreds of Permutations on Exa-Scale With regard to Big Data, it is up to organizations to productively use, in the complexity of life itself, via ‘technologies’ and on a truly Big-Data exa-scale, the flexibility of the dozens (if we leave the Cube intact) or hundreds (if we disassemble the Cube) of permutations offered by Rubik’s Cube. Again, technology is the foundation, but ‘Computing is not about computers any more, it is about living.’ Seventeen years ago, this was an almost religious sci-fi mantra, but the digital puzzle has now been fully developed and embellished: with Social Media, Mobile Apps and (Big) Data Analytics. Accordingly, a little extra SlowTech – far removed from the hype (cycle) – can do no harm at all.

About the author

SogetiLabs gathers distinguished technology leaders from around the Sogeti world. It is an initiative explaining not how IT works, but what IT means for business.


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