The Gartner Hype Cycle is supposed to show how technologies progress, from innovation to hype, to inevitable disappointment followed by a painful climb towards utility. However, many technologies don’t make it that far – some are broken down into parts, others get absorbed into amalgams, and many disappear into the Trough of Disillusionment never to emerge.
The technology entries (profiles) are written by specialist analysts, who also decide where on the ‘cycle the profile should go, but the decision on what to cut, or cut up, is a group effort built on rambunctious debate.
The process starts as last year’s ‘cycle is circulated, along with a note saying that this year we should reduce the number of profiles by focusing only on really-important technologies. Everyone agrees with this, but everyone also has strong, and divergent, opinions on what should be considered “really important”. Then the debate starts, generally kicking off by e-mail as analysts lay down their lines, introduce pet profiles, and hint at what compromises they may be prepared to make. This initial round is followed by a series of presentations leading to open and honest (not to mention robust) debate on which technologies just don’t matter anymore.
Personally I’m responsible for a few Hype Cycles: IoT Standards and Protocols, Embedded Software and Systems and Drones and Mobile Robots, and adjudicating on what gets left out is by far the hardest part.
This year we decided it was time to drop Li-Fi, despite a bundle of EU money it’s still a solution looking for a problem, and 802.11ah is never going to reach the Plateau of Productivity. We also dropped 5G machine-type communications, in favour of the protocols which will carry it (NB-IoT and LTE-M). Last year we added “Secure Processing Units” and “Advanced Development Boards”, but 12 months later neither has made any significant impact and both have been cut. There are happier stories – 6LoWPAN, Open SCADA and Arduino are amongst those technologies that are beyond the hype, having become productive standards.
Those are the decisions we made, but the good news is that Gartner Customers can change the decisions they disagree with and create a Hype Cycle of their very own. That way they can have their own debates on what’s “really important” and make their own decisions about what’s no longer worth following.