Thinking about Gartner’s Hype Cycle

As AR professionals focus (obsess) on the Gartner Magic Quadrant and Forrester Wave as primary targets for influencing, an important signature research deliverable is often overlooked – Gartner’s Hype Cycle (click graphic to see a larger version). This point is driven home by the fact that is takes a fair amount of work to find a vendor reprint of any Hype Cycle, whereas you can easily find MQ and Wave reprints starting on the first Google search results page. This vendor attitude is unfortunate because Gartner says that the Hype Cycle is the most read/download type of research, even more than the Magic Quadrant. However, because the Hype Cycle does not directly compare products and rarely even mentions vendors in passing, it is easy for vendors not to give Hype Cycles a high priority.

The Hype Cycle might take on additional visibility in October 2008 if Gartner and the Harvard Business School Press (HBSP) promote the new book, Mastering the Hype Cycle: How to Choose the Right Innovation at the Right Time by Jackie Fenn and Mark Raskino, as effectively as Forrester and HBSP did with Groundswell, which joined the BusinessWeek Best Sellers List on July 3, 2008. You can pre-order the Hype Cycle book or buy Groundswell from Amazon by clicking on the linked titles above.

Relevance – The Hype Cycle is of most relevance to vendors who use R&D and adoption of emerging technologies as a means of market differentiation or those who wish to be recognized as thought leaders in their markets. The Hype Cycle is much less relevant to vendors who sell mature products to lagging adopters of technology. While not relevant to current product selection, the Hype Cycle can be influential on longer term strategic decisions, especially for an enterprise deciding to adopt new technology sooner or later. Because of its impact on strategic planning and budgeting, the Hype Cycle can be either useful or a hurdle to vendor sales organizations as well.

In the next post, we will introduce a framework for when and how to provide input to a Hype Cycle.

SageCircle Technique:

  • Carefully review the list of Hype Cycles to identify relevant targets (while there are 96 Hype Cycles as of July 6, 2008, this task will likely not require a lot of time and effort)
  • Identify which of your company’s leading-edge technologies or thought leadership ideas are or are not being covered on a Hype Cycle
  • Conduct inquiries with the appropriate analysts to determine why items you think relevant were left off the Hype Cycle.

Bottom Line: The Hype Cycle deserves a lot more attention from vendors than it receives because of its impact on IT’s strategic decision making. Vendors who sell to early adopters and fast followers should consider putting more emphasis on providing input to the Hype Cycle and leveraging it in the marketing and sales processes.

Question: IT managers – How do you use Hype Cycles? AR teams – What is the percentage of effort you put into influencing the Hype Cycle versus the work done on a Magic Quadrant?

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8 Responses

  1. Forrester Research also projects status of emerging technologies with its TechRadar™ service. Both of these deliverables provide a technological snapshot, but it is the frequency that may be an issue. These need to be refreshed in less than 12 month cycles, given the rapidity of progress and failure that occurs.

  2. Hi Don, Thanks for the comment.

    Completely agree that “hype” changes so fast – because it is not tied to product cycles — that a 12 month refresh cycle is totally inadequate.

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