The Hype Cycle of Innovation

From the Internet to artificial intelligence, from business process reengineering to customer relationship management, from the Palm Pilot to the iPod, all new innovations follow the same predictable trajectory from hype to eventual application. Here's how it works:
  • The Innovation Trigger: A breakthrough generates press and industry interest in some innovation; buzz quickly builds.
  • The Peak of Inflated Expectations: Early adopters jump on the innovation; excessive press coverage enthusiastically promotes it; "bandwagon effect" kicks in as more companies rush to adopt to avoid being "left behind."
  • The Trough of Disillusionment: Problems with performance, slower-than-expected adoption, or failure to deliver timely financial returns lead to missed expectations. Impatience for results begins to replace initial excitement about innovation's potential value. Less favorable press stories appear, focusing on the innovation's challenges.
  • The Slope of Enlightenment: The experiences of early adopters leads to an understanding of the innovation's true value. The innovation matures as suppliers make improvements based on early feedback. Methodologies for successful application are codified; best practices are socialized. Real experience replaces unfettered imagination as the primary driver of expectations.
  • The Plateau of Productivity: With real-world benefits of the innovation demonstrated and accepted, growing numbers of organizations feel comfortable with the now greatly-reduced levels of risk. A sharp uptick in adoption begins, and penetration accelerates rapidly as a result of proven useful value.
Learn more about the Hype Cycle and Gartner's other proprietary research methodologies.