Skip to content

Hype Curve? This Is What You Need To Know About The Technology Hype Cycle

Hey tech decision makers, have you heard about the Hype Curve? It’s also known as the Hype Cycle, and it’s super important to understand! All emerging technologies experience this wild, double-hump shaped journey. If you’re not in-the-know about a technology’s position in its Hype Cycle, you risk both major failures and missing fantastic opportunities. In this article, I’m going to give you the lowdown on the technology hype curve. And most importantly, why you’ve got to know where each tech stands in its hype cycle before making any long-term investments. For a more detailed discussion of the 5 stages of the hype cycle, see my article, The Technology Hype Cycle: As Example, Look What Happened With E-Commerce.

What is the Technology Hype Cycle?

When assessing new business technology, have you ever wondered, “Is the hype for real?” Understanding the technology Hype Cycle can help you differentiate between hype and reality. Furthermore, it will assist you in determining the ideal time for your business to invest in the technology. See the definition of Hype Cycle below:

“a graphical representation of the life cycle stages a technology goes through from conception to maturity and widespread adoption.” 


Gartner is a technological research and consulting firm that originated the Hype Cycle and within the technology industry they are well respected. Jack Fenn, a Gartner analyst, created the Hype Cycle back in 1995. Gartner designed this double-humped hype curve to help businesses to understand emerging and new technologies. Today, Gartner creates and updates more than 100 Hype Cycles each year to characterize where they think a technology is in their Hype Cycle. The Hype Cycle consists of 5 stages:

  1. Innovation Trigger. This is when the technology starts to come out of the lab. 
  2. Peak of Inflated Expectations. This is when the media and parent companies of the technology amplify the marketing hype to a fever pitch.
  3. Trough of Disillusionment. This is when the technology begins to fail in real-life situations. 
  4. Slope of Enlightenment.  This is when the technology industry incorporates their lessons learned and starts producing better products and solutions. 
  5. Plateau of Productivity. This is when a whole ecosystem for the technology is created and provides real-world solutions.

 For a more detailed explanation and example of the Hype Cycle, read my article, The Technology Hype Cycle: As Example, Look What Happened With E-Commerce.

What Can Your Business Do With The Technology Hype Curve?

Anticipating the Downhill Shock of The Hype Curve?
Anticipating the Downhill Shock of The Hype Curve?

The hype cycle or hype curve provides an analytical model that you can apply to most, if not all technologies. So depending on your perspective, you can use the model for many things. For example, use it to make a technology investment decision. Also, businesses can use it to determine if it is the right time to adopt the technology. Lastly, you can use it to build a justification to kill a technology project or let it continue.

Why Is It Called A Hype Cycle?

Technology analysts use the word “hype” because the plot curve highlights the typical reception a disruptive or emerging technology gets as it matures. Undeniably, most emerging technologies involve a lot of hype and speculation, especially when it first starts getting applied.

The Hype Cycle Consists of A Hype Curve And Then a Second Curve of Reasonable Expectations.

The Hype Curve is often fueled by media buzz and curiosity. In many cases, over time, the technology fails to live up to these inflated expectations. As the technology matures, it transitions to the second curve, reaching its innovation maturity level. Notably, some technologies never fully mature and remain stuck at the initial stages of the Hype Cycle. Consequently, they experience the initial hype curve but ultimately wither away in the trough of disillusionment.

Hype Cycle Is Not A Repeatable Cycle.

A Hype Cycle for a given technology does not repeat. By comparison it is like a lifecycle for a living thing where it is born, progresses, and then dies. Also, technologies can move through each lifecycle stage at different paces. Specifically, some can move along at a normal pace, some accelerate through various stages, and others just sort of plod along.

The Technology Hype Curve Has Similar Characteristics of A Financial Bubble.

The third stage of the Hype Cycle, “Trough of Disillusionment“, is a very similar phenomenon to when a financial bubble bursts. To compare, with a financial bubble investors get all caught up in the hype. This is because many investors get the Fear-of-missing-out (FOMO) feeling just before the bubble bursts. Similarly, this is what happens with technology and the Hype Cycle. In this case, technology decision makers focus more on buzzwords than business justification. As noted, this usually happens just before the technology goes into the Trough of Disillusionment. Click here for more information on financial bubbles.

For more details and information on the Technology Hype Cycle, see F12’s What is the Hype Cycle and How To Avoid It, And Lido’s Gartner’s Hype Cycle for Businesses, CIO-Wiki’s Gartner’s Hype Cycle Methodology, and BMC’s Introduction to Gartner’s Hype Cycles.

 Also, for a more detailed explanation and example of the Hype Cycle, read my article, The Technology Hype Cycle: As Example, Look What Happened With E-Commerce.

Don’t miss the tips from SC Tech Insights!

We don’t spam! Read our privacy policy for more info.