Knowing when to adopt technology by understanding the hype cycle is vital for companies, says Dr Marcus Blosch, Gartner managing vice president, agenda management group. “Innovation is one of those things we talk about, but most companies are spectacularly bad at doing it. If you look at most management systems they’re risk averse, so if you’re innovating you want to increase risk because that’s where the new ideas come from,” says Blosch who had presented findings taken from Mastering the Hype Cycle, by Jackie Fenn and Mark Raskino of Gartner at an ICONZ presentation in Auckland.
Blosch says most companies don’t support innovation and it’s the first thing to go when cost cutting.
“One of the things about innovation is it is Darwinian, because it’s the survival of the fittest. The companies that can adapt are the ones that hang around. Adopting new technologies is vital to companies and individuals.”
He says the hype cycle is quite easy to follow.
“There is something about human nature that drives hype in bubbles. What happens is you get a trigger product, the media hypes it up, everyone expects a lot of it and then people start asking questions and it slumps.”
Blosch gave the example of the MPG music file that survived the hype. “The MPG music file was created in the 1980s, but it was in a development lab. So in 1998 the first commercial digital music player appeared. Then in 2001 the Apple iPod launched with dominant product ranges.”
However, he added it is rare that innovation exists in its own right. “The question is to what degree would the iPod be such a huge innovation if you didn’t have the internet, file sharing and being able to buy music online. So innovation often comes in networks.”
He says the hype cycle can be useful for businesses.
“IT as an industry is driven by fashion and fad. One of the things we do is search analytics and track the life cycle of a product.”
His advice for companies is to adopt people who are good at innovation, as the hype cycle provides an opportunity to look at what innovations are coming through.
“There are some things that support the hype cycle, so don’t be too narrow in your focus.”
The hype cycle also has some traps according to Blosch.
These include adopting too early, adopting too late or hanging on for too long.
“If times are good people tend to adopt and spend money on technologies. But if times are hard, people tend to invest money in other areas.”
His advice is to be a fast follower rather than adopting too early.
“If your company isn’t a stunner in terms of innovation then you don’t need to be on the leading edge, but [instead be] a classic fast follower. The trick is when to follow.”