The Gartner Hype Cycle: Should You Follow Trends?
Why following hypes will waste your time and money? No better way to explain than with the Gartner Hype Cycle.
Who doesn’t love a promising idea, that will make everything better? At first, we are a little bit hesitant towards it, but then everyone starts talking about it and someone tells this amazing story, how this idea totally skyrocketed the sales of this business. Yes, it all sounds so good. Or too good to be true? Too soon to tell. However, now we are hooked. What if this idea can actually solve this problem we have? And boost sales, get more traffic, etc? Plus, as a trend, it will bring us some attention, especially from the young generation. However, is it worth the time and money? Some people are saying that it’s just a hype and will fade eventually. So, what’s the best thing to do here?
Many business owners or freelancers have been in a similar situation. The digital landscape is never still and there are new ideas and technological developments entering the market every single day. For instance, are you familiar with the discussion about Growth Hacking? Suddenly, it was what everybody was doing, but does that mean it had or has any real substance? That said, it can be quite difficult to guide yourself and your business in between all these buzzing concepts and developments. Plus, there is never truly a guarantee that something that has worked for almost everyone will also work for you.
What is there to learn from the Gartner Hype Cycle?
The Gartner Hype Cycle was designed to specify how a technology or application will evolve over time. This model can serve as a guide for businesses as it displays at which point a certain technological or another kind of development is at in the ‘hype’ scale. By reading the cycle, one can understand how long it will take for the development to become a solid, trustworthy investment.
The 5 stages
The Gartner Hype Cycle defines 5 stages, measuring them by expectation and time variable. The first phase of an up-and-coming enhancement is the innovation trigger. Here, the development is at the beginning of becoming a trend – the expectations are rising quickly while everyone is talking about it. After, it rises to the peak of inflated expectations, which is usually when the enhancement is glorified to the highest possible level. Thereon, it drastically drops to the trough of disillusionment, after more and more people recognize that this idea is not the holy problem-solver or it just loses its trendy appeal. After, it picks up again in the slope of enlightenment and gradually sets itself in the plateau of productivity. During the last two phases, the development slowly but surely earns its place in society and becomes more trustworthy in the eyes of the public.
To demonstrate how these technological developments are positioning themselves in the Gartner Hype Cycle, here is the latest cycle for digital marketing and advertising of 2019. As presented in the graph, in 2019 at its Peak of Inflated Expectations is 360-Degree Views and Chatbots; however, in the Innovation Trigger phase is Blockchain for Customer Service.
So, what is the takeaway from all this?
What the cycle indicates with its 5 stages, is that new technological developments need a certain amount of time to position themselves in the market and the society to shape the understanding of them, and what they will be eventually used for. Seems quite obvious. However, these hype bubbles have a tendency to spread quite fast and become really influential, as there are many stories of businesses following a hype or investing in a new product that ultimately did not live to its expectations. It can be said, that as with everything new and shiny, there will be high interest, miscalculations, perhaps other problems until it will or will not become a part of everyday life.
Should you run after one hype after another?
Certainly no, unless, you have a ton of money and nothing else to do. However, should you research, evaluate, wait and see what kind of advantages and disadvantages it brings to others and would bring to you? Yes. At least, that’s how we think. This is not to say that the Gartner Hype Cycle ought to be your guideline in all cases. Rather, it should serve as a reminder that time is the greatest measurement of value and hyped expectation rhymes with frustration.