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Improving the Hype Cycle

Believe this kind of hype...Gartner’s Hype Cycle is one of my favorite market models. It very succinctly describes the ridiculous way PR and other external hype factors make more of a technology than it really is. When many of us show up at the RSA Conference at the end of the month, we will get our best view of the Hype Cycle in action. Most of the stuff very hyped at the show tends to be (roughly) 12 to 18 months from hitting, if it ever does.

But as with any industry research, where something lands in the Hype Cycle is open to interpretation and opinion. It’s as squishy as can be – there are no real attributes that can pinpoint where in the hype cycle any technology fits. These factors may exist, but the Big G certainly doesn’t talk about them. And when I see someone saying an over-hyped technology like Big Data has hit the “trough of disillusionment”, I scratch my head.

Gartner Inc. said that Big Data has fallen into a “trough of disillusionment,” due to its complexity. The research firm said current obstacles to adoption could be eliminated, though, as Big Data tools such as Hadoop are integrated into mainstream analytic applications.

You can’t really disagree with that statement, but I’d still say Big Data is closer to the peak of inflated expectations than to the trough. It’s not like a zillion companies have tried and failed at their Big Data deployments. These folks are still trying to figure out what Hadoop and MapReduce are. This kind of pronouncement is meant to push the market along, facilitate the integration that needs to happen over time to provide more demonstrable and sustainable value to customers. But there is still something missing from this kind of analysis.

It would be very helpful to overlay some kind of growth and/or market size numbers onto the Hype Cycle. So when a technology is climbing the cycle, market size is relatively small but growth is off the chart. As it descends into the trough the number of customers grows, but market growth slows as companies struggle to effectively institutionalize the technology. And then as it exits the trough into the plateau of productivity, revenues start to grow again significantly but at a more predictable rate.

But public revenue and growth metrics for private companies are about as much hype as these technologies. But that’s the missing piece (IMO) to really understand where these markets are in their development. Or am I still hammered from yesterday’s Super Bowl festivities and talking nonsense?

Photo credit: “Hype” originally uploaded by nouspique

—Mike Rothman

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