3 Themes Surface in the 2021 Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies

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Nonfungible tokens (NFTs), digital humans and physics-informed AI join the 25 technology profiles on the Gartner emerging technologies hype cycle for 2021.
Nonfungible tokens (NFTs), digital humans and physics-informed AI join the 25 technology profiles on this year's emerging technologies hype cycle.

Earlier this year, Christie's announced two major firsts for an auction house: It would accept cryptocurrency, and it would offer for sale a purely digital work backed by a unique nonfungible token (NFT).

The work, by digital artist Beeple, sold for more than $69 million. It forms part of an entirely new means of monetization — and potentially a whole new digital ecosystem.

An NFT is a unique blockchain-based digital asset that links to real-world assets like digital art or music and tokenized physical assets like houses or cars. In the case of art, the NFT verifies provenance, ownership and access. NFTs use immutable public blockchains and, as of last month, had a market valuation greater than $300 million.

Download Now: 2021-2023 Emerging Technology Roadmap

NFTs are also one of the additions to the Gartner Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies 2021, which highlights the 25 breakthrough technologies that will have the most significant effect on business and society over the next two-to-ten years.

Listen Now: Behind the Research: The Gartner Hype Cycle

"Breakthrough technologies are continually appearing, challenging even the most innovative organizations to keep up," says Brian Burke, Research Vice President, Gartner. "Your focus on digital business transformation means you must accelerate change and cut through the hype surrounding these technologies."

This year's technologies, selected for their potential transformational benefits and broad potential impact, fall under three main themes:

Engineering trust Accelerating growth Sculpting change

Theme 1: Engineering trust

For IT teams to effectively lead technology-enabled business transformation, they must engineer a trusted business core. Trust requires security and reliability, but must also be built on working practices that are repeatable, proven, scalable…
Kasey Panetta, Contributor
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