The Digital Marketing Hype Cycle is my favorite piece of Gartner research. I love the construct of it. It’s like a character arc for the new technologies and disciplines that appear on digital marketer’s radars almost daily.
And like a character arc, it dangles the promise of redemption in the end. What will actually make it to the Peak of Inflated Expectations, survive the Trough of Disillusionment, and ascend to that redemption at the Plateau of Productivity brings an element of suspense to the research.
Suspense was the topic of a recent Freakonomics podcast. In it, host Stephen Dubner spoke to authors, filmmakers, and yes, economists, about how they create suspense. Novelist Harlan Coben said:
“I know the ending. I know the final twist and surprise. I compare it to travelling – if I’m taking you from New Jersey to L.A., I can take you there a lot of different ways. I can take you via the Suez Canal, as long as I keep my eyes on the final destination.”
Unlike novelists, we don’t know which characters in the Hype Cycle story – from neurobusiness to wearables – will eventually arrive at the final destination (although venturing an educated guess is what makes the Hype Cycle valuable), and which of them will be killed off before they ever get there.
But we do know the full roadmap – where things might wind up, and that brings in another literary tool – the element of hope. For vendors and marketers fully invested in one of these emerging technologies, the Hype Cycle provides some validation of their hope, while offering cautionary tales of those that didn’t quite make it. As Coben says:
“Hope can be the cruelest thing in the world. It can crush your heart like an eggshell, or it can make it soar.”
If you haven’t yet seen our Hype Cycle for Digital Marketing, 2015, the suspense is over.
Or perhaps it’s just begun.