ADVANCE REVIEW: Mastering the Hype Cycle

Title: Mastering the Hype Cycle: How to Choose the Right Innovation at the Right Time
Author: Jackie Fenn and Mark Raskino
Hardcover: 227 pp.
Publisher: Harvard Business Press (October 13, 2008)
Just as individuals are notorious for buying stocks “high” and selling “low,” companies make exactly the same mistake with technology adoption.

A new technology emerges. Experts squeal with delight over the possibilities this technology will allow. Companies rush to adopt…but too soon. There are still kinks to be worked out, bugs and issues not yet discovered. Implementation is behind schedule and over budget. And the first-adopters begin to bail out. The technology, they believe, has failed. But again they are wrong. Even as they throw up their hands in failure, the technology is maturing and evolving. It may not live up to the initial hype that was once described, but it often has a powerful role to play.

Fenn and Raskino, analysts at technology research firm Gartner, have seen companies fall into the same traps time and time again. They describe why this happens, how hype corresponds to actual technology developments, and most importantly, how to use this knowledge. They also introduce frameworks such as radar screens and innovation scorecards used at Gartner and elsewhere to improve the decisionmaking process.

Will this be sufficient? The “hype cycle” provides a clear understanding of why things go wrong, post-facto. “You were too early / you were too late.” But even with the frameworks provided, many will inevitably fall into the same trap of buying “high” and selling “low.”

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