Out of over 100 emerging technologies listed over a 7-year period on the Gartner hype cycle, just 12 have completed the cycle of which 4 were predicted more than 2 years in advance

— This post has been updated with data from the 2013 hype cycle. Details included at the end of the post —

Whilst checking through the site analytics recently, it was a bit of a surprise to find one page receiving more hits than most of the others combined. Not least because it was a page that wasn’t part of the blog and deliberately wasn’t included on the site navigation. The page in question contained a table. A table plotting Gartner’s emerging technologies hype cycle. For some years I had wondered just how useful such predictions were and one day decided to try and find out. And since then, I’ve been updating it each year as the new hype cycle is released.

Here’s a summary of the predictions based on trends listed from 2006 to 2011 and their data predictions from 2005 to 2012. Trends with data points only for 2005 and 2012 have not been counted to ensure there are at least 2 years with potential data points to evaluate.

From 2006 to 2012, there were 102 trends plotted with potential to evaluate at least 2 years of predictions

  • 30 managed only one data point before disappearing so cannot evaluate
  • 28 managed at least two data points but disappeared before reaching mainstream
  • 32 are in an active cycle as of 2012
    • 20 haven’t changed time period yet so cannot evaluate
    • 8 have a pattern emerging in the right direction
    • 4 have a pattern emerging in the wrong direction
  • 12 have completed the cycle
    • 8 were not predicted in advance, first appearing 2 years or less before considered mainstream
    • 4 trends were plotted for at least 3 years before reaching the plateau of productivity…

The successful four?

  • Web 2.0 – first appeared on the 2005 cycle, last appeared in 2009
  • Corporate blogging – first appeared on the 2005 cycle, last appeared in 2009
  • Location-aware applications – first appeared on the 2005 cycle, last appeared in 2011
  • eBook readers – first appeared on the 2009 cycle, last appeared in 2011

It’s interesting, in hindsight, to see what trends turned out to be fads and what disruptive shifts were missed because they didn’t come from established vendors. The cycle didn’t spot BYOD or mobile app stores until they arrived and thought smartphones were done and dusted 12 months before the iPhone was announced. Whilst still betting on tablet PCs and electronic paper/digital pens for quite some time, neither of which have made it to mainstream adoption yet. And virtual worlds continue to cling to the cycle long after the initial hype faded.

So is the hype-cycle worth investing in? That’s for Gartner’s clients to decide. A lot more information is published to subscribers that must surely be of use. But for those who just get to see the images that make the news headlines, probably not so much. At least not in isolation. The likelihood of adopting new technologies should always be more about the objectives of the organisation than the hype surrounding the technology. I have some clients who are well on the way to adopting cloud computing tools because they are the right choice for their needs, and will take risks with immature vendors if the solution fits for now. I have other clients who are a long way from considering any such change, barring a major industry upset (or shift in legislation). If that happens, we’ll re-evaluate their options but they will likely have a very different selection criteria.

The one element that did surprise me when looking over the range of hype cycles was the diversity in range of trends chosen. From very broad concepts such as gamification to very specific technologies such as wireless power. I think that detracts from its value.

To view the cycles behind the summary, visit the Gartner Hype Cycle page

* Update: 19th August 2013

The Hype Cycle for 2013 has just been released and the data has been added to the Gartner Hype Cycle page. Here’s a summary of what’s in and out this year…

Trends listed for the
first time this year
Last year’s newbies that
didn’t make a 2nd appearance
Older trends that fell off
the curve ahead of schedule
  • Enterprise 3D printing
  • Consumer 3D printing
  • Mobile health monitoring
  • Wearable user interfaces
  • Biochips
  • Bioacoustic sensing
  • Smart dust
  • Electrovibration
  • Quantified self
  • Prescriptive analytics
  • Location-aware intelligence
  • Affective computing
  • Neurobusiness
  • Silicon anode batteries
  • Speech analytics/audio mining
  • Automatic content recognition
  • HTML5
  • BYOD
  • Application stores
  • Hybrid cloud computing
  • Crowd sourcing
  • 3D printing (redefined)
  • Home health monitoring
  • Wireless power
  • Internet TV
  • Consumerisation
  • Private cloud computing
  • Mobile OTA payments (again)
  • NFC payments

Three trends completed the curve in 2012 and so gain the prized Green status for a prediction staying on track. Whether or not they have all reached maturity and the plateau of productivity in reality I’ll leave for you to decide…

  • Media tablets
  • Idea management
  • Hosted virtual desktops

A rough calculation of the stats for active trends (about 117) listed from 2006 to 2012:

  • 32% only appeared in one year
  • 57% disappeared ahead of schedule
  • 16% completed the cycle (predicted to plateau within 2 years)
  • Of the trends that completed the cycle: 74% were on it for 2 years or less

Flickr-SegwaysStockholmFeatured image: Segways in Stockholm kindly shared on Flickr by Jodi Mullen. A trend that was going to transform city transportation but ended up as a fad, for now at least…


Join the conversation! 4 Comments

  1. […] My colleague @sjbailey pointed me towards this very interesting article regarding the accuracy (or not) of Gartner’s hype cycle […]

  2. Many of the things that have “fallen off the hype” cycle were moved to other hype cycles, or have completed. For example, Gartner says this about Cosumerization: “Dropped from Hype Cycle coverage. Now an established, broad-based trend.” And for many other such as Wireless Power, Internet TV, Mobile OTA Payments, NFC Payements and other, they indicate: “Included in another Hype Cycle.” I don’t think it is appropriate to “fell off the curve ahead of schedule” then they have only left the emerging technologies cycle.

  3. […] Turns out… Yours Truly was busy doing that, collecting data all the way back to 2008, and figuring out a way to graph the data. Which didn’t work too smoothly so I wanted to revert to first analyzing the data I had. Turns out… Someone else already did the collection part, and the analysis part, too. As in this post; recommended reading. […]

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