The hype cycle is a graphical representation of the life cycle stages a technology goes through from conception to maturity and widespread adoption.
The hype cycle is a branded tool created by Gartner, an information technology (IT) research and consultancy company. However, the hype cycle’s stages are often used as reference points in marketing and technology reporting. Businesses can use the hype cycle to guide technology decisions in accordance with their level of comfort with risk. Each stage of the cycle is associated with its own risks and opportunities.
The hype cycle identifies five overlapping stages in a technology’s life cycle:
- Technology Trigger: In this stage, a technology is conceptualized. There may be prototypes but there are often no functional products or market studies. The potential spurs media interest and sometimes proof-of-concept demonstrations.
- Peak of Inflated Expectations: The technology is implemented, especially by early adopters. There is a lot of publicity about both successful and unsuccessful implementations.
- Trough of Disillusionment: Flaws and failures lead to some disappointment in the technology. Some producers are unsuccessful or drop their products. Continued investments in other producers are contingent upon addressing problems successfully.
- Slope of Enlightenment: The technology’s potential for further applications becomes more broadly understood and an increasing number of companies implement or test it in their environments. Some producers create further generations of products.
- Plateau of Productivity: The technology becomes widely implemented; its place in the market and its applications are well-understood. Standards arise for evaluating technology providers.
Gartner provides an introduction to the hype cycle in this video: