It is hype cycle season here at Gartner, with updated and new hype cycles having been recently published or on their way. Whenever new hype cycles are published, there tends to be a lot of focus on where things are on the graph and what, if anything is missing. A key thing to remember is that the primary audience for hype cycles is the technology buyer. They are designed to guide them as to whether a technology might be risky, but full of opportunity, or if it is more proven.
But hype cycles can also be useful for tech providers, if they take the time to understand the implications to them. Here are a few guidelines and reminders:
- Hype Cycles are about innovations. A technology only appears on a hype cycle if it has not reached the bulk of the mainstream market. The last stage is when the early majority is starting to adopt. While being an innovator and establishing a leadership position is important, the real money to be made in most markets happens once a technology moves off the Hype Cycle. The only exception to this is for technologies that never make it to the end, effectively dying (or being consumed in other innovations) before they reach maturity.
- The Trough of Disillusionment represents opportunity. When I talk to some providers they feel like the trough is a bad time for the market. The reality is this is a sign of needed maturity. Opportunity in the trough comes from switching from talking about what is possible to talking about what is reality. Customer stories, implementation roadmaps, acquisitions, and other clear guidance can give providers an opportunity to establish a strong position as technologies move into the mainstream.
- The graphic only tells a part of the story. Some of the most important part of hype cycle profiles for providers don’t show up in the graphic. Information like projected impact and adoption levels reveal Gartner’s view of the opportunity. Always read the profiles and don’t just focus on the graphic. You’ll find tips to help you prioritize go-to-market investment levels.
- Time to plateau matters. When introducing a new innovation, the typical guidance is that you have to move fast. Yes, first mover is an advantage, but first movers don’t always win. And, investing too heavily early, when an innovation is likely to move slowly through the hype cycle is really just a great way to burn cash. Make sure you assess Gartner’s thoughts on time until innovations reach the plateau of productivity (or early mainstream). If it is short, then yes, be aggressive. If it is long, be thoughtful and focused about your investments.
Beyond the individual hype cycles, there are three documents that I recommend that tech providers that are Gartner clients read. A couple of these are “archived” (i.e. have not been updated recently), but the guidance still applies.
As a final note, don’t forget to checkout the companion to hype cycles, Gartner’s IT Market Clocks. They provide a life cycle view of products and services that go beyond the hype cycle period.
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