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Gartner: Biometrics, Web services and grid computing top the hype charts

Mike Simons
Enterprises can now profitably deploy virtual private networks (VPNs) and wireless local area network (LANs), according to analyst group Gartner, which has just published its 2002 Hype Cycle of Emerging Technologies.

The report shows that biometrics, Web services and grid computing are the most hyped technologies.

"The 2002 Hype Cycle reflects the bursting of the technology bubble," said Alexander Linden, research director of emerging trends and technology at Gartner.

"There are surprisingly few new technologies entering the Hype Cycle or approaching the peak. Far more technologies are stuck in the trough of disillusionment and several of these are unlikely to emerge from this stage quickly."

Gartner said that peer-to-peer computing, WAP and wireless web services, location sensing, speech recognition on desktops and e-payments are among the technologies that are floundering.

It has taken VPNs more than four years to mature into commercially viable products, said Linden. "There are now real cost savings over a three-year planning horizon," he said. "There are still reliability and security issues, but they are nothing special anymore."

Speech recognition in call centres is a technology that users should investigate and plan for, said Gartner. "It is a good business cost saving technology," added Linden.

A bank or telecoms company might have 1,000 different types of inquiry and should start by developing speech recognition for 10 services, migrating to between 20 and 50 over a year. "In ten years' time, half could be fully automated," said Linden.

Web services have been over-hyped, said Gartner, although Linden thought in-house Web services should take off quickly.

"Public Web services are a different matter," he said. "There are issues of security, trust, compliance and reliability to be sorted out."

Gartner also suggested it would be two to five years before identity services, such as Microsoft's Passport initiative and the Sun Microsystems-led Liberty Alliance, would be accepted for high-value transactions. Privacy and security concerns would hold back acceptance, said Linden.


Gartner's Hype Cycle:
Technology trigger: A breakthrough invention or product launch that stimulates industry interest.

Peak of inflated expectations: A period of unrealistic expectations and failed deployments as technology is pushed to its limit.

Trough of disillusionment: The technology falls from favour as expectations are dashed.

Slope of enlightenment: Focused experiments and hard work lead to an understanding of the technology's applicability, risks and benefits. Off-the-shelf tools and methodologies ease the development and application integration process.

Plateau of productivity: The real-world benefits of the technology are demonstrated and accepted.

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