Everything you need to know about Gartner's Hype Cycle

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In this article, you will learn everything about Gartner’s Hype Cycle. We will explain 1) what the hype cycle is, 2) what the hype cycle stages are and how they work, 3) some progressive business models according to Gartner, and 4) some real life applications.


The Term ‘Hype Cycle’ is used to refer to a graphical representation of the stages of the life cycle of technology that starts from its birth to its maturity and finally to its widespread usage and adoption. The Hype Cycle is a proper and established tool that was created by an IT consultancy and research company called ‘Gartner’. Several businesses and industries across the world make use of Hype Circle representation to make decisions regarding technology and business operations on the basis of the comfort factor as well as the risk they are willing to take on. The life cycle stages in Hype Circle are used by these companies are points of references in both marketing as well as technology reporting.

What happens is that as we move along in time, several new technologies come up and make huge claims. While some of these technologies produce the results claimed, others may just not work. But how can we differentiate between what is really commercially viable and what is not? This is where Gartner’s Hype Cycle representation comes into play. It helps to identify how technologies are relevant as far as finding solutions to real world business problems are concerned. The hype cycle method gives a general overview of how technology is expected to grow and evolve over a given period of time, and this helps businesses work towards their business goals.

While using this graphical representation, one must take the descriptive view into the mind and not the prescriptive view. If a certain technology is at the bottom of a Hype Cycle, then this doesn’t necessarily say that the technology is not good. It is important to understand that products, vendors, good technologies and average technologies work all go through the cycle together and as a new technology reaches its peak, the older one may slide down the curve and so on.

History of Hype Cycle

The concept of Hype Cycle was introduced by an analyst called Jackie Fenn in the year 1995. For several years of trying to bring this technology into the industry view, the organization began to use Hype Cycle charts of new and budding technologies. If we now go back and see the growth of old technologies, we will be able to observe and validate the curves and arches in the graphical representation. As an effective example, in the year 2005, a technology called Business Process Management or BPM suites was at the top of the Hype Cycle which means that its hype at that time was at the highest. Now a decade later, BPM has most certainly lived up to the Hype. But it is also interesting to note that the technology of Tablets was at the bottom at that time, but it has now emerged to be very useful all over the world.

If you consider the year 2014, the technology that is at the peak of Hype Cycles is ‘Internet of Things’ and the technology at the bottom is ‘White Cloud Computing’. It is still not fair to point out which one will remain up and which will move down the curve.


Hype Cycle Stages

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In total, there are 5 distinct stages or categories that occur as far as the rise and emergence of a new piece of technology are concerned. They are given as follows:

  • Technology trigger – Technology Trigger is the first stage in the emergence of a new technology and is a stage in which a potential technology gets a breakthrough or kicks off. Events like a product launch, press meet, public demonstration, etc. may take place in order to trigger the technology and bring it to the notice of the public or the target audience. At this stage, the technology creators may try to publicize the technology as much as possible but in most of the cases, the creation may not prove commercially viable or practical. All technology makers are using methods like media and social media to raise awareness of their product in order to attract maximum consumers or businesses towards it.
  • Peak of inflated expectations – This is the next stage in the Hype Cycle and is a stage that is associated with over-enthusiasm about the new technology. This over-enthusiasm is created by the company with the help of media channels like newspapers, ads, magazines, social media, etc. While some of the technologies may prove successful, others may just be failures. It is up to the creators of the technology to move forward from there and optimize the success. At this stage, the only ones that are truly making money are magazine publishers, media companies, and conference organizers. This is the point in the Hype Cycle where the expectations and promotions are at the peak. Businesses whose technology is welcomed by others may begin to think of better ways to distribute the product and gain maximum revenue.
  • Trough of disillusionment – After the peak of inflated expectations, the curve of the Hype Cycle begins to descend until there comes a point when the media and press totally abandon the topic or technology and the interest goes off. The technology now becomes unfashionable, and no one is talking about it anymore. People are bored of talking about the technology, and even the creators see no point in publicizing it anymore. This happens in most of the cases where the technology doesn’t fulfill the hype that it had created before. But in rare cases where the technology did work well, the curve may not bend down.
  • Slope of enlightenment – This is the stage when people begin to understand how the technology can prove beneficial or useful. This is often the result of hard work as well as focused experimentation by some organizations. Their hard work creates an understanding of the risks, benefits as well as the application of the technology. In order to make the development process easier and more convenient, certain tools and methods crop up and help businesses understand how a technology can prove to be effective for them. Technology providers may launch other variants of the product at this stage as it may seem like the right time to capitalize on the building understanding.
  • Plateau of productivity – Now that the main benefits and practical application of the technology have become wide-spread knowledge, mainstream adoption begins to take place. Since methodologies and tools related to the technology are now stable, the second and third generation of the product may also begin to emerge as productive. The final altitude of the plateau depends upon whether the technology benefits only a certain segment of the market or whether it is widely accepted and applied.


As far as the roadmap to digital industries and organizations is concerned, Gartner provides us with six progressive models or methodologies for the business era which the businesses today can relate to and can aspire to be in the future course of time. The following are the 6 business models for the Development path of digital businesses:

  • 1st stage: Analog
  • 2nd stage: Web
  • 3rd stage: E-Business
  • 4th stage: Digital Marketing
  • 5th stage: Digital Business
  • 6th stage: Autonomous

As we know, the Hype Cycle for new technologies is mainly focused on new and emerging ventures, products, services and ideas; it only holds valid for the last 3 stages of the 6 business models for the development path of digital businesses. So here, we will discuss these last 3 stages in more detail:

4th stage: Digital Marketing

The particular stage is the stage where businesses and organizations concentrate upon better, newer and methods with a higher level of sophistication to reach out to the target audience or customers. This is the phase or stage that is associated with the emergence of a combination of technologies including information technology, cloud computing, social media and mobile technology. At this point, consumers make use of mobile devices as well as social media platforms to purchase services and products and are more concerned about the brand image of the items they buy.

Businesses and organizations try to tap into the influence to sell more products or services and thus expand their profits. They look for customers who are more willing to engage in their marketing efforts the value of products or services. The following are some of the technologies that represent this stage of the Hype Cycle:

  • Gesture control
  • Data Science
  • Neurobusiness
  • Big data
  • Complex event processing
  • Prescriptive analysis
  • Software defined anything
  • NFC
  • Cloud computing
  • In-Memory Analytics
  • Speech recognition
  • Hybrid cloud computing
  • Augmented reality
  • Content analytics
  • Gamification
  • Holographic and volumetric displays
  • In memory DBMS
  • Virtual Reality
  • Activity streams

5th stage: Digital Business

The next phase that is the Digital Business phase is the first step after the Digital Marketing stage and is a point where one sees the convergence of things, people, and business. At this stage, there is a blur between virtual reality and physical reality as the idea of the ‘internet of things’ gets more focus and attention. Our physical assets become digital at this stage as there is a strong influence of the virtual world. Physical assets are now equally important and focused upon as other digital entities like apps and systems. The concept of 3D printing comes more into the picture and gets advanced, and this leads to furthering of opportunities in manufacturing and supply chain industries.

Digital Business stage is a stage where several characteristics of people get digitalized, and some of these include currency, vital signs of health, etc. Those businesses who seek to become digital businesses by going past the digital marketing stage can look for technologies given below:

  • Smart workspace
  • Consumer Telematics
  • Mobile health monitoring
  • Wearable user interfaces
  • Affective computing
  • Connected home
  • Bioacoustic sensing
  • Internet of things
  • 3D scanners
  • Inter-machine communication platforms
  • Concept of cryptocurrencies
  • 3D bioprinting services

6th stage: Autonomous

This is the last or final stage after the Nexus of Forces stage. This is the stage when businesses or companies try to capitalize upon or leverage upon those kinds of technologies that are more humanlike capabilities. This level is associated with utilization or usage autonomous vehicles that move things and people, usage of cognitive platforms and systems that answer questions or write content. This is the stage where there is not only widespread use of technology but advancements are at their peak. The following is a list of the hype cycle’s technologies that businesses must consider reaching this stage to gain an edge over others:

  • Autonomous vehicles
  • Quantum computing
  • Smart robots
  • Biochips
  • Smart advisors
  • Virtual personal assistants
  • Human augmentation
  • Brain-computer interface
  • Natural language question answering


Hype Cycle for Technology & Marketing

One of the most common applications of Hype Cycle is Technology and Marketing. Hype Cycle has added many technology related applications like CRM, ERP, Ecommerce, Virtual Realtiyoijn, Brain Computing software and Virtual Personal Assistant, etc. ever since its launch 10 years ago. While some technologies are still on the peak of the Hype Cycle, others may be hitting the Trough of Disillusionment. For example, some areas of social media marketing are now losing their sheen and slipping down the curve.

As far as other marketing methods are concerned, some which are emerging currently are content marketing and data drive marketing. Digital commerce, customer experience management and tag management, etc. have been around for years but are still budding, transforming and hence popular.

Hype cycle for Big data

Big data is a term used to refer to very large-sized data sets on which the regular data processing methods are not effective. These data sets are complex, and some challenges that are faced to process them include data curation, analysis, sharing, storage, transfer and information privacy, etc. Big Data, as well as data management, were both at the peak of Hype Cycles but have now moved over it.

Even though Big Data is at its peak, it is still in a lot of demand across many industries who use it to manage and evaluate large quantities of data. Along with Big Data, some other technologies that have moved over the peak include consistent data management, web-scale applications, global case, etc. Big data has now gone in the phase of Trough of Disillusionment.

Hype Cycle for IoT (Internet of Things)

Internet of Things has taken the place of Big Data now and is at the peak of Hype Cycle. In the last couple of years, the analysts at Gartner predicted that Internet of Things would take more than 10 years to reach the Productivity plateau phase but the way things have turned out, this concept will take between 5 to 10 years to reach the final stage. Internet of Things is an active and crucial part of business and the IT landscape.

Internet of Things was one of the main drivers behind the quick movers from the first stage of Hype Cycle to the peak of it. For businesses all over the world, one of the most emerging opportunities is the impact of technologies that run in the world. Even though many of these technologies are old, but when connected to Internet of Things, their impact is much higher.

Hype Cycle in CRM

CRM stands for customer relation management and is a system used to manage a company’s communication and connection with not just existing customers but also with potential customers. CRM takes into use technology to automate, organize and synchronize marketing, sales, customer service and technical assistance. As far as CRM Sales technology is concerned, more than half of the technologies covered in this concept are on the slope of enlightenment whereas some others such as sales performance management as well as mobility are still growing as far as their popularity and importance are concerned. Some of the technologies that are now sliding down to the trough include sales analytics, price management, and optimization and configure, price and quote application suites.

Some of the technologies that are climbing the slope are Lead Management, Sales Training solutions, territory management, e-commerce SAAS and sales contract management, sales information systems and partner relationships management, etc. Those which are still entering the plateau include proposal generation systems and mobile sales force automation for the inventory or the orders.

Hype Cycle for education

Another important application of Hype Cycle is for education. Hype Cycle for Education helps educational institutes like schools and colleges, etc. to monitor new and emerging technologies that can help in academics. Through the concept of Hype Cycle, one can not only create but also share information relating to technology. Hype cycle for education tool helps to:

  • Learn – Learn about new and emerging technologies and find out new ways to support teaching and learning with the help of technology.
  • Share – Share teaching and learning experiences with the help of new technologies and resources.
  • Innovate – One also learns to innovate by using and adopting emerging technologies as well as by utilizing new technologies into coursework’s.

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