Divining reality from the hype
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Each hype cycle shows how expectations change during five key phases of a technology’s life cycle. The first phase (“Innovation Trigger”) happens when the news media begin to notice a promising new technology. Even though no usable product may exist and the technology’s commercial viability is still a long way from being proved, media interest begins to gather steam.
At the top of the cycle (“Peak of Inflated Expectations”), the early publicity prompts a number of success stories, while scores of failures receive less attention. During this second phase, some large early adopters get involved, spurring further headlines.
In the third phase (“Trough of Disillusionment”), interest wanes as trials fail to deliver results and press coverage turns negative. A shake-out drives weaker participants to the wall, while survivors with better products consolidate and gain support from early adopters, along with additional funding from venture capitalists.
With the fourth phase (“Slope of Enlightenment”), more enterprises approve pilot schemes, as they become acquainted with the technology’s proven benefits and best practices. Meanwhile, second- and third-generation products begin to appear, providing the needed confidence for mainstream adopters to think about committing themselves.
Finally, the fifth phase (“Plateau of Productivity”) is where mainstream adoption takes off. Firms providing the technology are now seen as credible suppliers. Their products gain broad market appeal, as the technology's value becomes recognised by the industry as a whole.