Gartner, Inc. developed the Hype Cycle back in 1995 as a graphic representation of the maturity, adoption and social application of specific technologies. Hype cycles help organizations determine whether a particular technology is hype or reality, and when they should consider adoption.
- Technology Trigger.
This is the trigger that generates the hype, often either a technology breakthrough (e.g., the transistor) or a product launch (e.g., the MPMan).
- Peak of Inflated Expectations.
The trigger is usually followed by frenzy of publicity and reporting which generates unrealistic expectations. Usually there are a few products during this phase, but mostly they fail, often taking the company with them.
- Trough of Disillusionment.
The mismatch between reality and expectations compounded by, at best, abandonment by the press drives adoption sharply down.
- Slope of Enlightenment.
In spite of the bad taste of the roller coaster ride to the trough, some companies will continue to invest in the technology, finally understanding the benefits and creating a practical and useful product.
- Plateau of Productivity.
Productivity, and profitability, is created by a stable product that widely shows the benefits leading to acceptability. The final height of the plateau depends on how broad-based the potential market is.
For those with short memories, the MPMan was the world’s first mass-produced portable media player. It came out in 1998 and could hold about six songs. In 2001, Apple introduced the iPod and immediately jumped the Trough of Disillusionment.
Gartner’s latest Cloud Computing Hype Cycle was published in August, 2012:
One difficulty with Cloud Computing is that it is not a product, and it is not even a technology; it is a concept. This chart shows where Gartner believes 37 different capabilities are today and how long it will take each to get to the Plateau of Productivity. In one sense, this chart is not “The Cloud Is Ready Today,” as there are many of the capabilities in the 2-5 year range. But keep in mind that moving to the Cloud is not an event – it is a journey, and a journey that for most companies will take 2-5 years. I suspect that somewhere in your organization is an application or capability that can go to the Cloud today and provide real measurable benefit in the areas of reduced cost, increased agility, and reduced aggravation. Your trick is to find those low-hanging fruit opportunities and use them to gain a competitive advantage over your competitors, and preparing your organization to continue your journey to the Cloud.
The last word:
Gartner maintains more than 100 hype cycles, and many companies find them and the accompanying analysis critical to making business decisions. If your company subscribes to Gartner, find out who controls access to the reports on Gartner’s website. Otherwise, you can purchase a single copy of a hype cycle report. The single copy price for the Cloud Computing hype cycle and the accompanying 75-page report is $1,995.
Like any kind of prediction, especially one that attempts to predict customer behavior, any Hype Cycle is a guess. Gartner at least has the experienced analysts and access to data to make them scientific guesses. However, the more revolutionary the concept, the less accurate the prediction. Cloud Computing certainly falls into the “game-changing” category.
Keep your sense of humor.