Book Review - Mastering the Hype Cycle: How to Choose the Right Innovation at the Right Time By Jackie Fenn and Mark Raskino
It happens almost without fail for every new technology and innovation... A new idea becomes a hot buzzword destined to change the world. Then the euphoria bubble pops and no one wants anything to do with it. But over time, the core concepts become ingrained in the day-to-day flow of business, and reality finally emerges. This "hype cycle" is exactly what Jackie Fenn and Mark Raskino cover in their book Mastering the Hype Cycle: How to Choose the Right Innovation at the Right Time. Given their backgrounds at Gartner, they've seen this happen time and time again. For me, this solidifies one of those ideas I had that I was never quite able to put a finger on.
Part 1 - The Hype Cycle: Hype Cycle Winners and Losers; Behind the Hype Cycle; Hype Cycle Traps and Challenges; Hype Cycle Opportunites and Lessons
Part 2 - The STREET Process: What It Takes to Master the Hype Cycle; Scope - Establishing the Context for Innovation; Track - Collecting the Innovation Candidates; Rank - Prioritizing the Candidates; Evaluate - Understanding Rewards and Risks; Evangelize and Transfer - Making It Happen; Future Cycles
Notes; Index; About the Authors
The goal in Mastering the Hype Cycle is to give organizations a way to assess new technologies and decide if and when to jump on board. For instance, the book opens with an example of the loyalty card market in the UK. Safeway, Tesco, and all the other major players jumped on board early while the cycle was in the uptick phase. But after laying down a solid foundation, Safeway's board started to sour on the idea when market analysts started to dismiss the idea of database marketing and its potential benefits. Many companies dropped the idea, including Safeway. Tesco however, the first mover in the trend, stuck it out and continued to experiment with the idea. That tenacity paid off with them becoming one of the largest retailers in the UK.
The hype cycle goes through a number of distinct phases. It all starts with an Innovation Trigger, something that's new in the industry. The hype rises to the point of the Peak of Inflated Expectations, when everyone predicts that the new "thing" will completely change the world. This is normally followed by the Trough of Disillusionment, when the hype doesn't live up to the reality, and people start to bail out. But over time, the Slope of Enlightenment and the Plateau of Productivity occur. This is where the technology or innovation is allowed to find its level of reality in the marketplace, and organizations start incorporating it into their business plans in a way that makes money. And if you think about it, this has been played out continuously, especially over the last decade. Internet dot.com retailing, SOA, outsourcing, etc. It seems to happen every time.
Fenn and Raskino offer up a process by which organizations can assess these innovations and decide if and when they want to get involved. The STREET process makes a lot of sense. You decide what type of organization you are, and what level of risk you're prepared to take. Based on that, you can start to determine what new innovations might affect your business, as well as when it might be advisable to get on board. Too early, and you risk spending millions on something that doesn't catch on. Too late, and you risk getting left behind by the competition.
Granted, there's some element of "20-20 hindsight" here, in that there is no possible way to predict what will and won't stick, as well as when the optimal time to commit would be. But even understanding that the hype cycle exists puts you ahead of the game. Adding the formalized process of STREET to the mix dramatically increases your chances of not missing the boat (or putting out to sea before the boat is certified sea-worthy)...