Evaluating technology options for innovation in marketing – know your hype cycle
If you’re involved in digital strategy, you’ll be constantly making judgements and doubtless arguing with colleagues about which innovations are most relevant to your organisation. Here are a couple of tools to help.
I’m noticing a lot more innovation roles in larger organisations recently. It’s great to see companies investing in understanding technology and marketing trends to try to create a roadmap for prioritising and implementing innovative digital technologies for marketing applications.
The Gartner Hype Cycle model for technology innovation
You may well know the Gartner Hype cycle since this has been published for over 10 years.
Gartner Hype Cycle 2013
In August 2013, Gartner released their Latest 2013 Hype Cycle of emerging technologies. If you don’t know it, this is one of the best ways to find out about the upcoming technologies which may affect digital marketing.
Marketers who follow new technology will not be surprised to see Big Data nearing the Peak of Inflated Expectations along with wearable technology. Scary-sounding new technologies to watch include the Brain-computer interface, Human Augmentation and Neurobusiness.
For reference we also have the 2010 and 2009 models from when I first wrote this post. It’s interesting that those rising up the “peak of inflated expectations” currently those looking most relevant for marketing are Video search, Augmented Reality, IP TV are not mainstream still, probably consigned to the “Trough of Disillusionment”.
Gartner Hype Cycle 2009
Here is my summary of the 5 stages of diffusion of innovation used by Gartner – it can be useful for explaining to colleagues your strategy when you have adopted a “wait and see” approach because you don’t want to waste time implementing a solution that never gets out of the “trough of disillusionment”. Alternately, in digital marketing, many smaller, nimble companies have gained an edge amongst early adopters of an approach such as social media or Web 2.0.
1 Technology Trigger – The first phase of a hype cycle is the “technology trigger” or breakthrough, product launch or other event that generates significant press and interest.
2 Peak of Inflated Expectations - In the next phase, a frenzy of publicity typically generates over-enthusiasm and unrealistic expectations. There may be some successful applications of a technology, but there are typically more failures.
3 Trough of Disillusionment – Technologies enter the “trough of disillusionment” because they fail to meet expectations and quickly become unfashionable. Consequently, the press usually abandons the topic and the technology.
4 Slope of Enlightenment - Although the press may have stopped covering the technology, some businesses continue through the “slope of enlightenment” and experiment to understand the benefits and practical application of the technology.
5 Plateau of Productivity – A technology reaches the “plateau of productivity” as the benefits of it become widely demonstrated and accepted. The technology becomes increasingly stable and evolves in second and third generations. The final height of the plateau varies according to whether the technology is broadly applicable or benefits only a niche market.
Selecting alternatives for marketing innovation
Selecting amongst hundreds of alternative projects is a challenge I commonly hear when talking to digital strategists. One approach I have developed when consulting, to help with this, is the matrix below which we describe along with other alternatives in our guide and template to justifying digital marketing investments. Of course this structured approach won’t fit the culture of all organisations, but even a simple unscored version of this is useful within a workshops to help discuss the relative merits of different digital projects.
Forrester produced a “HERO” Project Effort-Value Evaluation tool which works in a similar way.