The Hype Cycle

By David Hill, CAPP, MA

The other day, I happened upon an article that introduced me to the Gartner Hype Cycle. The Hype Cycle is a theoretical model postulated by Gartner, Inc, a research and advisory firm in business, IT, and customer experience. It suggests a conceptual representation of how the maturation process works in emerging technologies, observing that new tech passes through five phases of acceptance:

  1. Technology Trigger.  A new breakthrough, early proof-of-concept stories, and media interest. Often no usable products exist and commercial viability is unproven.
  2. Peak of Inflated Expectations. Early publicity, some success stories, many failures. Some companies take action; most don’t.
  3. Trough of Disillusionment. Interest wanes, experiments and implementations fail to deliver. Investment continues if providers improve their products to the satisfaction of early adopters.
  4. Slope of Enlightenment. Concept evolves, more instances of benefits and viability. Second-generation products appear; more pilot programs.
  5. Plateau of Productivity. Mainstream adoption, viability clearly defined, broad market applicability paying off, surviving products succeed.

It seems to me that the Hype Cycle pretty closely illustrates the launch and progress of any new concept or product–from musical groups to automobiles to kitchen blenders. In our industry, our zeal to lead positive change pushes us toward early acceptance and inflated expectations, sometimes resulting in inevitable disillusionment when the product crashes, or when the reality doesn’t measure up to the hype. Over the longer haul, however, new concepts are always influential and forever change our vision of what is possible.

For more information on the Hype Cycle, click here.

David Hill, CAPP, MA, is CEO of Clayton Hill Associates.

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