Mastering The Hype Cycle

How to Choose the Right Innovation at the Right Time

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Classic Hype Cycle turn signal: ‘Twitter Backlash’ reported

April 17th, 2009 by Mark Raskino · 9 Comments

[Disclaimer - this post DOES NOT constitute an update to Gartner's hype cycle position on microblogging*]

One of the many indicators that the peak of hype has been passed, is when the tenor of media articles about the technology innovation starts to turn sour.  Sometimes that is centered on the lead player in the emerging market for that innovation – which of course requires the analyst to think carefully about whether it is just that company or the generic innovation as a whole which is losing its initial lustre.

With that in mind, here’s an excellent reference example headline that caught my attention yesterday: ” ‘Twitter Sucks!’ The Backlash Begins”

In this article, the New York Observer journalist cites a number of major news media articles about Twitter that have a negative tone – from The Telegraph to CNN. She has even found a Twitter Backlash blog.

Remember the innovation is microblogging (and there are competitors) – so let’s forget the company name for a moment.  This technology innovation example is particularly interesting because the technology is of direct relevance to journalists and media people in their own jobs. So naturally they will discuss it more and the situation is unusually amplified. As they compete for audience attention we will tend to see more extreme hyperbole and backlash. That helps make this innovation a particularly clear reference example, as it passes through the early stages of the Hype Cycle.

We can also see how the web itself is improving the tools to help innovation managers and analysts track technology zeitgeist. I was prompted to read the article becuase I have a daily Google Alert for any mention of the Hype Cycle.  The journalist can quickly follow a hunch (that there is a growing backlash) and find a number of examples to fill her article. She points to a spike in the Google Trends graph for the term ‘Twitter Backlash’ . The mood is encapsulated in the special purpose vehicle of a dedicated public blog. I doubt that blog existed two years ago and I doubt it will be active two years from now – but it will probably be captured for the historical record by systems such as the Internet Archive WayBack machine.

All off this evidence helps form a ‘digital contrail’ for the flight path of the technology – making it far easier to track than when Jackie first described the Hype Cycle in 1995.  Which means that thhe productivity of hype cycle trackers should be improving and you should be able to watch more things with higher frequency for your company.

So what are you waiting for?  Update your own company hype cycle chart of key technologies that matter to your business – right now!

* Gartner’s 2009 Hype Cycles – which will include our updated position for microblogging, will be published late Summer.

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