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  • Writer's pictureCristina Ferrero Castaño

Much more than artificial intelligence: 15 emerging technologies that will shape the next decade.

Gartner publishes its famous 'hype cycle' every summer. On this occasion, it covers interest in NFTs, sovereign clouds and generative AI.

Alberto Iglesias Fraga

El Español

August 27, 2021

Life is like a roller coaster, with its ups and downs. It is inevitable, as is the natural evolution of emerging technologies in their particular life cycle. This is how the analysis firm Gartner has understood it for many years, materialised in a graph (the 'hype cycle') that has become a viral summer classic.

This famous curve is the result of an in-depth analysis of more than 1,500 emerging technology trends. Every year, the researchers of this house order and weigh the maturity, the degree of expectation and the foreseeable evolution of all of them. The objective? To find out which are the magic words that we will not stop hearing in the coming years in the industry.

Pero, ¿qué dice el análisis de este 2021? Por lo pronto, se trata de una de las pocas ediciones de este trabajo en que no se recoge ninguna tendencia en declive, esto es, que ya ha superado su etapa de máxima ilusión y comienza el normal descenso hacia la consolidación real en el mercado. Un fenómeno con lectura agridulce: estamos en un momento formidable de creación e ideación de innovación, pero nos aguardan unos años de inmensas decepciones hasta encontrar los casos de uso tangibles de todas esas invenciones.

But what does the analysis of 2021 say? For one thing, it is one of the few editions of this work in which no trend is in decline, i.e. it has already passed its stage of maximum excitement and is beginning the normal descent towards real consolidation in the market. A bittersweet phenomenon: we are at a formidable moment of innovation creation and ideation, but there are years of immense disappointment ahead of us until we find tangible use cases for all these inventions.

That said, let us now turn to technologies with a name of their own. At the crest of the wave, with a maturity period of between two and five years, are non-fungible tokens (or NFTs) and decentralised industry. The first of these concepts, the distributed materialisation on blockchain of works of art and a host of objects from the physical world, has become enormously popular in the last year, but has not yet established itself as a stable business with solid foundations, which remains to be seen in the coming years.

Still climbing our peculiar roller coaster (i.e. gaining adoption before consolidation) are other trends such as employee communication applications, composable applications or generative artificial intelligence. All of these will be more or less tangible realities in less than five years' time, although again they will have to go through the inevitable fall into hell.

In the next decade

So much for the technologies that will see the light at the end of the tunnel in the short term, according to Gartner. But as we have said, we are looking at a profuse analysis of thousands of trends which, opportunely placed in line with the expectations created, offer us a ten-year map of the concepts that are going to take over everything.

Among them, in this intermediate state of maturity, we would find paradigms such as the 'data fabric', active metadata management, decentralised finance (similar to blockchain, as we have seen before), homomorphic encryption, verticalised clouds by industry or sovereign clouds (similar to the Gaia-X project being proposed in the European Union).

And what lies beyond that ten-year horizon? Gartner also covers that more distant future with a string of concepts to which we should pay increasing interest: digital humans, AI-driven innovation, AI-augmented design and quantum machine learning.

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