Meet Jackie Fenn: Gartner Analyst, Hype Cycle Inventor and Novelist

Jackie Fenn, Distinguished VP Analyst and Gartner Fellow Emeritus in Gartner Research & Advisory, contemplates her 25-year Gartner journey that has resulted in numerous new frameworks and models, TV interviews, thought leadership awards, a business book, and a techno-thriller novel with rave reviews.

As I look back over 25 years at Gartner, what stands out is the range of experiences I have enjoyed. I came from a background in artificial intelligence and speech recognition, and joined Gartner to cover emerging trends and technologies. I’ve dived into a wide variety of topics over the years, including my current focus areas of innovation management, the psychology of creativity, and how insights from behavioral science can shape leadership. Gartner’s flexibility means I have been able to work between two beautiful cities (Boston and Sarasota), and I’ve had the opportunity to travel to events and client sites all over the world. Highlights have been visits to Singapore, Japan and Australia, as well as some of my favorite U.S. and European cities.

Gartner’s atmosphere of intellectual stimulation and collaboration has been particularly rewarding for me. I enjoy the combination of activities that analysts are involved in — researching and analyzing new information, writing research notes, taking inquiries, creating presentations and workshops, and meeting clients at events and on-site visits. Being at the center of a network of amazingly smart people in the technology industry, end-user organizations, and of course all of my Gartner colleagues, is a source of ongoing inspiration and energy.

I love to create models and frameworks that simplify complex ideas. The year after I joined, I wrote a research report observing that new technologies go through a predictable path of overenthusiasm and disillusionment before they eventually provide predictable value. It had a simple graphic with catchy names for the stages (like “The Peak of Inflated Expectations”), and some examples of technologies at each stage. The note was called “When to Leap on the Hype Cycle,” and I had no idea what it would lead to. Today, Gartner creates about 100 Hype Cycles every year and the concept has made it into popular culture as well as academic literature. In 2008, Harvard Business Press published the book “Mastering the Hype Cycle” that I authored with my colleague Mark Raskino.

Being exposed to emerging technologies and their impact on business and society has also fueled ideas for my passion outside of work, which is fiction writing. Last year I published my first novel — a techno-thriller, naturally. It’s about a programmer who writes an algorithm to influence people on social media. He uses it to take revenge on a company that stole his code, but it works far better than he ever anticipated, and of course, things go horribly wrong. It’s called Gone Viral under the pen name J.A. Knight. It ended up being very timely given the social media controversies of the past year, and I was thrilled when it was awarded a Publisher’s Weekly starred review.

I think the people who succeed at Gartner are those who view their career as a journey of continuous learning. Whether you aspire to deliver a Symposium/Xpo™ keynote, create a new industry framework or just help as many clients as possible through great conversations, there’s always an opportunity to incorporate your own interests and passions in a way that helps other people fulfill their potential.

Are you looking for a job where you’ll do challenging, groundbreaking work? At Gartner, each and every associate has a hand in our success. Learn more about how you can make an impact with your work here.

Explore our available Research & Advisory roles here and join Jackie’s team.

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