The Technology Hype Cycle



"We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten. Don't let yourself be lulled into inaction."

- Bill Gates

Emerging technologies provide an opportunity for early adaptors to gain an advantage over competitors. Earlier adopters, however, face the risk of hidden pitfalls of the new technology.

Gartner's Hype Cycle is a framework to evaluate the maturity of a technology. The Hype Cycle evaluates a technology's location between hype and expectations. A use-case for the framework is to assess the risk faced when adopting new technology.

The Hype Cycle plots a technologies path along five stages:


Stage 1. Innovation initiation

Technology evangelists fixate on the potential of the innovation. Media channels typically initiate a surge of enthusiasm as influencers first discover the technology.

Stage 2. Crest of promoted expectations

Few numbers of successful implementations are made publically known. Companies evaluate the technology and attempt to hedge risk as far as possible.

Stage 3. Pit of disillusionment

Attention for the technology declines. Few companies boast impressive successes in line with original forecasts. Boundaries and contexts are starting to become clearly defined.

Stage 4. Ascent of enlightenment

More practical functions for the technology are found. Implementation numbers increase off the back of revised business models. As skill availability increases as more companies adopt the technology. The total number of published use cases increase.

Stage 5. Plateau of productivity

In this stage, more comprehensive market adoption takes place. The market generally views the technology as stable. The technology becomes known well enough for implementers to realistically define the outcomes possible through it.

Timing

Technology does provide an advantage when adopted earlier than competitors or early enough to deliver value to an awaiting market at the right time. Timing needs to be accurate. The hype cycle framework helps determine the best moment to select a technology within the mixed chorus of excitement and resentment.