While they take the time needed to fit the pieces of their jigsaw together, they miss out on the opportunities given to early adopters such as the big press stories. The flip side is that they benefit from the investment and experience that others who go before them make.
I’ve seen this countless times over the years with each innovation such as email marketing, online booking, video trailers, social media marketing, SEO, online advertising and currently, with augmented and virtual reality.
Many of these developments have gone on to be part of the day to day techniques modern marketers use. But at the time they were emerging, there would often be much uncertainty.
When practical and affordable, I always encourage early experimenting. The risk is that it can be seen as gimmicky; this can be both a good thing or a bad thing for different reasons depending on your brand values.
Gartner Hype Cycle is a way of viewing the growth and adoption of any new technology and helping you predict at what stage you want to jump on board and invest time, money or resources.
This distinctive shape has five phases each with a rather interesting name: the Innovation Trigger, the Peak of Inflated Exception, the Trough of Disillusionment, the Slope of Enlightenment and the Plateau of Productivity which are described below.
Innovation Trigger is when a new technology kicks off. There may be lots of publicity but maybe not much understanding of its uses. At this stage there is no significant usable products.
Peak of Inflated Expectation (sounds like my teenage years) – by now there are often a few well known success stories but also many failures that may make some people question the potential. Some of us take action while others may not.
Trough of Disillusionment – this is where many lose interest because of a lack of really good case studies showing the way. Investment in the technology may weaken and things could look bleak for the future of the technology.
Slope of Enlightenment (I like to think this describes my current stage of life). This is where we start to see practical examples of how the technology can be used – maybe ideas we’d never thought of before. This is when most of our clients start bringing ideas into conversations and meetings or want to commit budget.
Plateau of Productivity – this is when a new technology goes mainstream and is accepted without question and adopted into default budgets.
So where in the Hype Cycle do you like to get involved?
Chart the relevant technologies that you’re interested in and see where they fit on the graph. Take a note of when you tend to adopt new ideas into your mix. Are you a risk taker who jumps on board at the beginning? There could be big rewards when you pick the right innovation. Or are you moderate – insisting on sound advice and clear return on investment but willing to experiment? Maybe you are the type that are happy to sit back and learn from everyone’s mistakes first?