Since Gartner introduced the “Hype Cycle” in 1995, technologists have been using it to evaluate emerging technologies. Today, entrepreneurs can utilize the Hype Cycle principle more broadly to consider how technologies can combine with an organization’s ecosystem to foster competitive advantage.

The Hype Cycle has five phases, and it takes about two years for technologies to shift from one phase to the next:

Phase 1- The Technology Trigger

During the trigger phase, there is significant media interest in a new technology. For internal systems, users fall in love with the perceived efficiencies or customer impacts. Current examples include Crowdsourcing and Big Data.

Phase 2 – The Peak of Inflated Expectations

In the second phase, users are unrealistic about the capabilities of a technology, how long it will take to implement, and the return on investment. Current examples are 3D Printing and Private Cloud Computing.

Phase 3 – The Trough of Disillusionment

In reaching the trough, users understand that technologies do not realize their potential and thus become cynical about them. Current examples would be Cloud Computing and Home Health Monitoring.

Phase 4 – The Slope of Enlightenment

During the next phase, users readjust their expectations for more realistic outcomes and find more real-world applications of various product features. Current examples include Mobile OTA Payments and Media Tablets.

Phase 5 – The Plateau of Productivity

Finally, when a technology is adopted, its bugs are repaired and users are trained. Over time, it becomes more stable and nuances are better understood. Current examples are Speech Recognition and Predictive Analysis.

The promise of the Hype Cycle is to help executives filter through the noise and decipher which advances will be applicable to their business. The term “hype” is aptly titled, given our entrepreneurial nature to be curious about things that are not fully proven. The theory of the hype cycle suggests that every advantage has a dreadful downside; those who implement technologies too quickly are apt to be disillusioned. As the saying goes, the devil is in the details.

Many companies constantly evaluate new tools before they are fully understood. Managers should be more thoughtful in vetting such opportunities and fully comprehending their implications. Especially as companies move to a higher level of integration, they will be more selective on how they use technologies that must coexist with ERP systems and the like.

So, the hype cycle can be used as a strategic planning tool, to evaluate emerging technologies and opportunities within a strategic planning process.

In evaluating a new technology, a sound cost-benefit analysis should be conducted by the managers who will use the product. The days of IT executing technology in a vacuum are over.


Source:  Gartner Hype Cycle Research Methodology