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What are the recent technologies that have failed to deliver their promise?

by Mark P. McDonald  |  December 17, 2010  |  2 Comments

An Executive Vice President at a company I visited recently asked me the question above. He went onto explain, “You know the technologies that everyone said a few years back would really change the way we were supposed to work.”  I took deep breath and came up with the following things.  Please feel free to comment, refute, etc.  They are in no particular order,

Business Intelligence is a technology that promised to revolutionize management, the way we used information, how we worked smarter.  It seems that BI has had a chance to deliver on that promise.  For many reasons it appears that it has not. Now this is not just my opinion, rather I attended and event where a senior executive from a supposed BI-innovator said that BI had done little than act as a higher power reporting tool, that he and his company have been waiting for 10 years for it to deliver and they were still waiting.  I would rather not say whom, because I have not asked if he was ok being quoted, but the sentiment is clear.  See related post on BI

Revenue Generation via consumer focused social media.  It may be too early to tell, but form a corporate perspective it seems that ideas centering on setting up a consumer community and generating revenue from a company generated consumer community has not really come to fruition.  Now that definition above may be a little narrow and some people have generated revenues for products and services that have a community component, but the community as a source of revenue does not seem to have lived up to its business expectation other than the idea of brining together a big audience and selling advertising to them.

The first generation of mobile commerce described in terms of location-based services intended to generate additional revenues.  I know that this definition is a little particular, but people mobile commerce expected mCommerce be the next extension of eCommerce.   People will say, but wait a minute, what about the smart phones and all the millions of dollars generated selling apps.  True that is revenue generated selling to mobile devices, but not location based services that generate additional revenue.  I think we are just beginning to understand what mobility really means and that is someone beyond using a device outside of the home or office. So original promise from 2000 or so — the days of WAP etc. yes going forward probably not.

That is what I came up with, on the spot in front of a senior executive no time for deep analysis.  I mention this as an explanation as to what may seem to you to be wrong or lame.  I could have mentioned specific technologies, like Microsoft’s KIN mobile phone, or the Segue other specific products, but I think that question was generally about classes of business technology rather than specific technologies.

So how would you respond to the question, a business executive asking about the recent technologies that failed to deliver on their promise.

I really welcome your comments and thoughts because I am sure that you all can come up with things much better than did in the time it took to take a sip of water.

Category: innovation  technology  tools  

Tags: innovation  technology  technology-leadership  value-of-it  

Mark P. McDonald
8 years at Gartner
24 years IT industry

Mark McDonald, Ph.D., is a former group vice president and head of research in Gartner Executive Programs. He is the co-author of The Social Organization with Anthony Bradley. Read Full Bio

Thoughts on What are the recent technologies that have failed to deliver their promise?

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Heidi Schall, DecisionPath. DecisionPath said: sad statement (though common refrain) about underdelivery of #BI benefits: […]

  2. John Joseph says:

    It’s an interesting topic. One I’d add to the list is speech recognition technology simply because it hasn’t lived up to customers’ wildest expectations. It’s also interesting to look at the technology and market dynamics at play in each example you mention because there are stark differences. In the case of mobile commerce and consumer focused social media, both are still relatively young concepts/technologies. As with many young technologies, either the customer expectations exceed technical reality or consumers aren’t ready to adopt yet because it requires a change in behavior. Not every product can be an iPad…although we should note that tablet computers were around decades ago too, but they were too heavy, too limited in capabilities, etc. So while mobile commerce and consumer focused social media may have over-promised and under-delivered to date, we are seeing these technologies in their early stages and it is quite possible that they may still reach their full potential. The Business Intelligence case is different because BI has been around for 30+ years and the traditional BI technologies have plateaued in their capabilities. For example, BI is viewed as important technology for producing and distributing corporate/financial reports, but it is also viewed as time consuming, inflexible and too difficult for non-technical business people to use. Today businesses put a premium on agility and they are demanding that BI systems support rapidly changing and highly diverse data (including textual data from Twitter et al.). They also demand that the ease of use hurdles be eliminated so that BI can be used by many more people within the enterprise. Interestingly, there is a new wave of innovation in the BI industry that promises to help BI reach its full potential under these new requirements. There is growing recognition that addressing the new requirements of BI users will require a new approach – one based on a more flexible architecture (enabled by flexible data models and in-memory and columnar databases) that can sit alongside the traditional BI systems. In addition, other innovations such as search and interactive visualizations make it possible for someone without a Ph.D. in BI to take advantage of the analytic power to answer not just financial questions, but questions that arise in other departments, such as engineering, product quality, procurement, customer service, sales, and marketing.

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