How the Hype Cycle Began

After joining Gartner in 1994 as an IT industry analyst covering emerging technologies, Jackie Fenn realized there was a common pattern that most technologies (if not all) shared. Again and again, she saw a rapid initial rush of enthusiasm for a technology's potential, followed by disillusionment in the face of real-world challenges, finally followed over time by a deeper understanding of what the technology could really achieve. She drew a graph showing the ups and downs of this recurring cycle, naming each stage, and populated it with example technologies. In the research report presenting this graph, she added advice for clients about how to make decisions at each stage. Her report appeared in January 1995 with the title "When to Leap on the Hype Cycle."

While at British Airways as a relationship manager between IT and Sales & Marketing, Mark Raskino saw Jackie's hype cycle chart, which became an important aid to thinking about new technologies at BA. In fact, he wrote the hype cycle into his job description to note that part of his job was to moderate overblown expectations and then bolster sagging confidence at different stages of a new technology's hype cycle.

Mark Raskino moved from British Airways to Gartner in 2000 and has worked on various aspects of the hype cycle. He has published research showing how to use the cycle in conjunction with different organizational risk profiles, applied the cycle to management disciplines and emerging business and societal trends far removed from pure technology, and has worked on measuring levels of people's expectations around new technologies.

Client demand for updates to Jackie Fenn's original research report, as well as other Gartner analysts using the hype cycle in their coverage of other technology areas, led to an increasing number of published Hype Cycles and ultimately to the publishing of an annual "Hype Cycle Special Report." Since 2004, this report has been relied upon by technology planners in hundreds of organizations, many of whom create their own versions of the hype cycle to analyze the status of their particular technology and innovation portfolios.

As both Jackie and Mark have worked with the hype cycle over the years, they have learned more about what causes the cycle, how it progresses, and the insights it can offer managers. Thanks to many additional contributions from colleagues and clients, the body of experience around the hype cycle has grown to a level where they feel it is appropriate to share their perspectives and recommendations to a broader audience in book form.

 

Jackie Fenn
Jackie Fenn is a Vice President and Gartner Fellow in Gartner Research, leading their research in emerging technology management and emerging trends. She is the originator of the Gartner hype cycle model, which has been adopted by press and organizations worldwide.

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Mark Raskino
Mark Raskino is a vice president and Gartner Fellow at Gartner Research. He has delivered keynote presentations on technology topics in over 25 countries, and consults for CIOs in many organizations.

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