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Gartner and the hyped hype cycle

August 21, 2017

It’s not exactly a secret that I have issues with Gartner and their hype cycle. When I was at IBM Research it would drive me crazy when someone would quote Gartner to try to prove that some technology or other was important. To summarize: since all Gartner really does it ask a bunch of technology companies what they think is next, quoting Gartner at a technology company doesn’t prove anything. You’re really just going with the group think du jour.

Having done my PhD studying virtual reality and 3D interaction, I tend to regard their hype cycle as particularly laughable. Lots of technologies, like VR, go around and around the circle (funny how Gartner draws their cycle as a line, as if technologies always progress from start to finish along it) from inflated expectations to disillusionment without going further. Depending on how you count, VR is on roughly the 4th cycle, and based on the job changes I see from folks I know at Facebook the current hype is dying down pretty quickly. Still other technologies are a flash in the pan, being hyped once and vanishing altogether.

And yet somehow the much hyped hype cycle endures, people quickly forgetting what last year’s predictions were in the excitement over what technologies might be about to break through on this cycle. So it was refreshing to see someone go back and look through all of the hype cycles published since 1995 to see how they fared. Short version: not well. Color me shocked.

From → Musings, Technology

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