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Trends to follow when dealing with NFTs, generative AI, sovereign cloud, data fabric and composable networks
Wed, 25th Aug 2021
FYI, this story is more than a year old

Engineering trust, accelerating growth and sculpting change are the three overarching trends to drive organisations to explore emerging technologies such as non-fungible tokens (NFT), sovereign cloud, data fabric, generative AI and composable networks.

This is according to the Gartner report, Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies, 2021. The report pulls insights from more than 1,500 technologies into a set of "must-know" emerging technologies and trends that show promise in delivering a competitive advantage over the next five to ten years

"Technology innovation is a key enabler of competitive differentiation and the catalyst for transforming many industries," says Gartner research VP, Brian Burke.

"Breakthrough technologies are continually appearing, challenging even the most innovative organisations to keep up. Leading organisations 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."

As organisations continue their focus on digital business transformation, Gartner says they must accelerate change and cut through the hype surrounding emerging technologies.

"This Hype Cycle provides a high-level view of important emerging trends that organisations must track, as well as the specific technologies that must be monitored through the themes of trust, growth and change," says Gartner research VP, Philip Dawson.

Three themes of emerging technology trends

Engineering trust 
This can mean building innovations as a resilient core and foundation for IT to deliver business value. Gartner says the foundation must consist of engineered, repeatable, trusted, proven and scalable working practices and innovations.

For example, the digital and cloud technology and services market is currently dominated by U.S. and Asian providers. As a result, many European companies store their data in these regions, possibly creating political uneasiness and concerns about retaining data control and complying with local regulations. Countries can engage a sovereign cloud to achieve digital and data sovereignty, which will, in turn, provide legal requirements to apply data protection controls, residency requirements, protectionism and intelligence gathering.

According to Gartner, the technologies to watch are sovereign cloud, NFT, machine-readable legislation, decentralised identity, decentralised finance, homomorphic encryption, active metadata management, data fabric, real-time incident centre and employee communications applications.

Accelerating growth
Gartner says organisations 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 will extend delivery and value.

Generative AI is an emerging technology that the pharmaceutical industry uses to help reduce costs and time in drug discovery. Gartner predicts 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 might otherwise miss.

Gartner says to accelerate growth, the following technologies should be explored, multi-experience, industry cloud, AI-driven innovation, quantum machine learning, generative AI and digital humans.

Sculpting change
Change is traditionally disruptive and often tied to disorder, but organisations can use innovations to sculpt change and bring order to chaos. 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, enables organisations to recognise and exploit business opportunities, respond to unexpected disruptions, and meet customers' changing demands at their pace, retaining their loyalty.

According to Gartner, organisations 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.

The Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies, 2021 is one of over 90 Gartner Hype Cycles covering a range of innovations, technologies, business trends and key vertical industries.