Hype Cycle. Staying ahead of the curve but what curve?

Hype Cycle is a visualisation by Gartner which provides an insight into current ideas and their trending.

Reading and interpreting the infographic can be a bit daunting at first.  This article hopes to explain how to use them.

As a game of “do I know what that means”  hype cycles prove useful in sense checking if you’re up with the jargon of the latest technologies.

Whilst this years hype cycle is a paid for event, last years hype cycle are generally available for free if you go looking.

Most of the chart deals in years as a timeline measure so last years chart will still be relevant to this year.

So… what’s trending?!

  • Straight to the good stuff
  • What am I looking at?
  • Wrap up

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Straight to the good stuff

Gartner Hype Cycle Infographic

These infographics are representations of some of the research produced by Gartner on a specific topic.

They seek to visualise the most relevant topics of the day in a particular area of technology.


The different cycles

The research they do depends on the areas being asked about.  So year on year titles change.  Frequently reported and looked up topics  will see their hype cycle updated annually.

To view the most recent hype cycles is a paid exercise.  Yet with a of searching on Google gets you good results.

Use the following links, click “Images” in google and use the titles on and around the graphic to examine what year it is about.

Here are the links done for you.  You can also add the year to the search words to try refine it but remember you’re getting this info for free so don’t set your expectations too high.

You can get creative with your titles.  Depending on who’s around and interested in buying the research, they’ll do the research.  If not his year, maybe next or the following year.

  • Network and Communications
  • ERP
  • Application Security
  • Connected Vehicles and Smart Mobility

Please remember to ALWAYS check the year of the hype cycle you’re reviewing.


Why bother?

I’m too busy

Yep, we’re all too busy.  Until that is a

  • new technology comes along,
  • makes us redundant and
  • then we have plenty of time sitting on a porch doing nothing and making no money.

Then and only then do we wonder… why didn’t I put some time in.

I’m not talking about donating days or weeks of time.  I’m talking about taking an hour out a month or even a quarter to sense check yourself and your business.

Most technical trends won’t affect our business at all.  Yet in the chaos might be the idea that makes or breaks us.


Market Research

I’ve detailed before that market research has many benefits.  There are many approaches to how you get your information.

Most people don’t have time to read academic papers or keep up to date with every technology company and what they’re producing.

Wouldn’t it be nice if someone could serve it to you?


Gartner is one research company who makes a business of going around the houses, centralising that information and presenting it on a plate.

So think of Gartner as someone who does the leg work for you.  They get paid by being up to date and they don’t give their info away for free.

Companies who see the research and realise the marketing value buy that info and subsequently share it with the world.

So thank you marketing departments, what can you share with me today?



Wikipedia defines an infographic as (a clipped compound of “information” and “graphics”) are graphic visual representations of information, data or knowledge intended to present information quickly and clearly

Not just art, these images can convey a significant amount of data in a very effective way using colour, shapes and position.

Image from http://bit.ly/2pOHv58

Like any map, a “Key” provides an explanation for symbols on the infographic.

Take the pink SE in the bottom right corner.  What does that stand for?  So the key provides an explanation.


The Gartner Hype Cycle

The empty cycle look like this

Firstly the Technology Trigger is the starting point.  A new technology is discovered.  There are no products for it and there is no track record for the idea.  So the inventor / innovator generates public interest with stories and uses the media to raise awareness.  This starts the hype cycle.

Like any first attempt there are going to be mistakes.  The idea might not work.  At some point the amount of failures vastly outweighs the amount of successes and the hype which served to generate interest no becomes its critic.  The peak of inflated expectations is the height of people being aware but taking no action.

All but the hardcore believers falls away, until only the strongest remain.  This low point is the trough of disillusionment.  Bugs continue to be fixed and mistakes corrected.  Someone has to keep the dream alive but most people now believe it won’t work.

As more people understand what the idea can do and how to apply it a resurgence begins.  Often more recent versions vastly improve on initial models.  Funding, investment and adoption begins to rise but cautiousness abounds.  The slope of enlightenment represents the growth of how the solution works for more and more people and businesses.

Finally the idea enters the plateau of productivity.  The solution is adopted by the mainstream.  The ideas relevance is clear and there is a lot of precedence for its application.  No longer a niche solution the market expands and adopts the idea.


The Key

Each entry on curve is represented by a symbol.

So for each item, how long do Gartner estimate it will take before the idea will move through the cycle.

If they believe it’ll take too long, then you get “obsolete before plateau”.  Gartner believes the idea is taking too long.

Very fast moving ideas are represented as circle with a white center.  This represents very hopefully ideas.


Is it scientific?


Even the titles expectation, disillusionment and enlightenment show these to be subjective, not objective positions.

How the position each solution ends up on the cycle is subjective based on two factors.  Firstly Gartner is a paid company and companies can influence their findings depending on how much is spent with Gartner.

Secondly there method by which each position gets chosen is never revealed, so we as readers take it on good faith.

That said, it’s edutainment.   Defined as “video games, television programmes, or other material, intended to be both educational and enjoyable.”

That said if the material wasn’t relevant the popularity and investment by companies in the output would not have made Gartner the multi-billion dollar company it is.

Use critical thinking and allow the hype curves inform your decision making process.  Just don’t stake the house on it!

Even by Gartner’s own write up the hype cycle examines promise and potential.


Wrap up

Hype cycles are very useful for emerging areas and being able to talk with confidence about relevance in a particular area.

Gartner get it wrong from time to time.  What they present is a snapshot in time… but no one can predict the future.


Just the exercise of “sense checking” am I up with titles in they hype cycle in various areas is sensible.

As a student these reports help to ensure that the material you’re studying is industry relevant.

In business this research gives decision makers insights that might not have dropped into their lap till too late.

For entrepreneurs and innovators exploring different areas can spark ideas and solutions to your own next idea which might feature on the hype cycle.

If there’s anything in this article you’d like to chat to me about you can contact me here or on social media.


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