“A Hype Cycle (term coined by Gartner) is a graphic representation of the maturity, adoption and business application of specific technologies.
Hype cycles characterize the over-enthusiasm or “hype” and subsequent disappointment that typically happens with the introduction of new technologies. Hype cycles also show how and when technologies move beyond the hype, offer practical benefits, and become widely accepted.
The hype cycle comprises 5 steps:
- “Technology Trigger” breakthrough, product launch or other event that generates significant press and interest.
- “Peak of Inflated Expectations” frenzy of publicity typically generates over-enthusiasm and unrealistic expectations.
- “Trough of Disillusionment” Technologies fail to meet expectations and quickly become unfashionable.
- “Slope of Enlightenment” some businesses continue to experiment and understand the benefits and practical application of the technology.
- “Plateau of Productivity” the benefits become widely demonstrated and accepted. The technology becomes increasingly stable and evolves in second and third generations.
Hype cycles aim to separate the hype from the reality, and enable executives to decide whether or not a particular technology is ready for adoption.” (adapted from Wikipedia)
The Hype Cycle is a tool that can be used by EA to help evaluate new technologies and whether it’s the “right” time to jump in and invest.
The hype cycle teaches us not to be blind, bleeding edge technology adopters, but rather to allow ample time for the technologies and their applications to mature. Often a swift follower can implement a relatively new technology cheaper, faster, and better than those on the bleeding edge: the kinks have been worked out, the patches applied, and the applicability fleshed out. More important, those technologies that were more hype than substance have been eliminated from the mix.
While early adoption can be a winning strategy (and extremely lucrative) for those gifted to recognize and be able to apply real innovations early on, in most cases, the swift follower is the big winner and the bleeding edge adopter the loser.