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Gartner tweaks Hype Cycle

International IT research firm Gartner is tweaking its Hype Cycle to better reflect market expectations for new technologies, rather than to only reflect the visibility innovations attract when they first appear.

Gartner analyst Mark Raskino told ITWeb at Gartner ITxpo/Symposium Africa 2009, in Cape Town, yesterday, that this entails relabeling the graph's Y-axis (vertical) to “expectations” rather than “visibility” as a measure of the market's predictions for a new technology.

Raskino says the Hype Cycle is maturing as a tool as a greater understanding of its constituent parts emerges.

“It has already proven itself during the technology depression of 2000 to 2002, and it is continuing to be useful in the current global economic crisis.”

Raskino notes the change of labelling does not detract from its usefulness as an observation and decision tool.

He says companies looking to use various technologies, or to gain advantage from emerging technologies can use the Hype Cycle to look at the peak areas, work out if such technologies are still too immature, and then look to those technologies that are about to mature and start to implement them first.

“The Hype Cycle can be very useful to avoid the burnt fingers experience many companies have had of adopting immature technologies too early, especially if they are naturally risk averse. On the other hand, they can keep an eye on the maturity of technologies with the aim of adopting them as soon as they look as though they can become useful.”

Ups and downs

The Hype Cycle, along with the Magic Quadrants, has become a hallmark of Gartner analyst briefings since one of its analysts, Jackie Fenn, first observed the phenomenon in 1995. It is a repeated pattern of innovation-adoption behaviour observed in technology markets.

Until now, the Hype Cycle was plotted on two axes, with the horizontal, or X-axis, being time, which has a standard measure. The Y-axis, or “visibility”, has no standard measure but was plotted by criteria such as the number of mentions in the media, marketing buzz, press conferences, or other such public awareness campaigns.

A new technology initially shows a sharp rise over a short period of time as it is “hyped”. The technology falls into a “trough of disillusionment” as it proves to be immature and work is done to bring it to market.

Finally, if the market – either as a standard or product – adopts the technology, it then enters a second phase of maturity that is a far shallower growth curve than the first, but over a far longer period of time.


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