Pay attention to Gartner’s hype cycle

IT industry analysts Gartner published their 2006 hype cycle for emerging technologies this week – their predictions on what they think will be hot technologies in the near future, and what won’t be.


These predictions form part of the hype cycles Gartner uses to characterize the over-enthusiasm or “hype” and subsequent disappointment that typically happens with the introduction of new technologies. Hype cycles also show how and when technologies move beyond the hype, offer practical benefits and so become widely accepted.

Looking at the chart, of particular note is what’s at the peak of inflated expectations and about to hit the downward ski slope into the trough of disillusionment – mashup, Web 2.0 and folksonomies.

These three are perfect examples of unrealistic expectations produced by a lack of clear understanding (or, perhaps, lack of effective communication) about what such technologies can actually help you achieve from a business perspective, and when.

Already near the trough are Ajax, wikis and corporate blogging. That is potentially a good sign – depending, though, on how soon/quickly they move into the slope of enlightenment.

Note what’s already well into that slope – smartphone – and what has already reached the plateau of productivity – internal web services and VoIP.

Ones to watch, from a communicator’s perspective, as they rise up the technology trigger slope towards the peak of inflated expectations include collective intelligence, RSS enterprise and corporate semantic web. More significantly, perhaps, is how long they stay at that peak before the downward run into the trough and then out towards enlightment.

If you’re an IT pro, the detail in Gartner’s report will be especially of interest. If you’re a communicator, there is plenty here that you ought to be paying attention to.