Sooner or later, most hype cycles become practical and result in technology that is valuable for you or your business. It pays to learn about the cycles of hype and innovation, especially if you can avoid the distracting noise that always happens when a promising technology first receives large-scale public attention. To-Increase watches innovation cycles very closely, especially as they affect ERP, the industries we serve, and the solutions we offer. We want to enable our customers and partners to take practical advantage of new technology as soon as it achieves the right level of maturity. Here are a few observations about hype and innovation cycles that you may find helpful in making sense of technology trends.
Remember when RFID was about to revolutionize the way we do business, and VoIP was going to eliminate standard telephony within the next few years? Hype cycles, initially created and curated by the analysts at Gartner, are an indelible part of what we talk and think about when we are exposed to innovative technology.
Many innovations that become caught up in hype cycles may not deliver on their early fame, but nonetheless reach a level of adoption where they contribute to the productivity of people and organizations. We've research the rise of cloud-based ERP in its evolving hype cycle, among other emerging enterprise-friendly technologies.
How Hype Cycles Unfold
When Gartner typically diagrams hype cycles, they start at a low point, initiated by a “technology trigger” that occurs when influential people understand the potential of a new technology coming out of research and development. Companies create products, early adopters acquire them, and soon the momentum accelerates in the media, resulting in more suppliers and users.
At a “peak of inflated expectations” the activity snowballs -- and the backlash begins. The hype cycle slides into the “trough of disillusionment” as suppliers consolidate, adoption slows, and people think more critically about the new technology. Then, slowly, the cycle ascends the “slope of enlightenment” with second-generation, much improved products, more maturity in suppliers and their customers, and accepted best practices and standards. Eventually, the cycle flattens in a “plateau of productivity” where 20-30 percent of possible users have adopted the new innovation and suppliers offer product suites and business-ready, third-generation products.
Hype cycles typically take five to seven years, but their length can vary greatly. Some hyped innovations, such as e-commerce, reach the plateau and become ubiquitous. Others never recover from the backlash after the first peak. Some of them evolve into different concepts. For example, big data appears to have replaced business intelligence in terms of attention, coverage, and conversation. Gartner published its first big data hype cycle just last year.
Others, like the cloud, spin off new, additional hype cycles as technologies and markets mature and business leaders find creative ways to make innovation pay off. The cloud has brought into existence hype cycles for platform-as-a-service (PaaS), software-as-a-service (SaaS), and infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS). Still on the way up to the peak is business-process-as-a-service (BPaaS).
Moving Fast, Peaking Early, and about to Hit the Big Time
3D-printing became an example of a fast-moving cycle once the technology, which has been around for decades, became more affordable and versatile. Last year, awareness of 3D-printing was quite low outside of the most forward-looking organizations and media. Today, 3D-printers are frequently shipped to consumers, and companies have generated an abundance of usage scenarios.
Augmented reality seems to follow a similar development, but its evolution may have slowed, or even dropped into the trough prematurely, with the advent of Google Glass as a defining product. It may be that much of the development of augmented reality will carry on in industrial and defense-related surroundings until it once again emerges in a hype cycle.
Very early in their rise to the peak are a few innovations that closely relate to hype cycles already in progress. 3D-bioprinting involves the use of human cells to “print” tissues, organs, bones to go into people’s bodies. It also represents a case where the life-sciences industry is unusually quickly adopting industrial technology. Human augmentation is poised to complement augmented reality with exoskeletons, prosthetics, and other enhancements—some of which may be produced by means of 3D-bioprinting.
One of today’s very early cycles involves quantum computing, which uses quantum mechanics to perform operations on data. It has been successfully demonstrated, but is not yet close to reaching markets. Security and defense agencies might be the first to have the resources to create practical applications for quantum computing.
ERP Gains from Mobility and the Cloud
At To-Increase, we pay close attention to the hype and innovation cycles that might affect our customers and partners. Elsewhere in this blog, we have already discussed 3D-printing and the cloud. Our R&D team is always looking for ways to take our solutions forward so they can help you benefit from evolving technologies.
Of course, we pay much attention to ERP trends. Analysts and industry observers note that cloud-based ERP for small and midsized businesses is still on the rise to its peak of expectations, and so is mobile ERP. PaaS has peaked and will probably mature toward the productivity plateau quickly. ERP business intelligence platforms and two-tier, hub-and-spoke strategies are ahead of it in getting there.
Cloud-based ERP is moving faster, both in terms of its hype cycle and in actual adoptions, than Gartner and other analysts anticipated, largely driven by the relatively low cost and short time to complete deployments. Financial services, healthcare providers, and professional services are three industries where decision-makers are highly favorable toward ERP in the cloud.
According to the consensus of a number of analysts, ERP mobility from the initial sales call to the shop floor and on to fulfillment will become an essential factor in helping companies accelerate and streamline their processes as they look for better performance. A number of To-Increase solutions, both already available and still in development, help to make mobile ERP practical, affordable, and strategic.
If you’re looking to leverage new technologies during the peak of their hype cycles, let us know! Contact us via our website.