How can you use the Hype Cycle to guide your technology decisions? | Articles

As you all know, we are in a world where technology is creating a lot of new innovations.  Our industry, the digital industry, has always been strongly impacted by technology. We all love technology. But, as new technologies arise, new hypes and trendy, buzzy words arise, which makes it often very challenging for businesses to choose the right battles. Which hype should I surf on? Which hype has an impact on my business? Often we see that a lot of those buzzy, trendy words are overestimated. Only a limited number of all those hypes are really fruitful. It’s therefore important to take a pragmatic approach while exploring new hypes. 


Why is it so important to have a pragmatic approach when adopting new technologies? 


We believe there are 3 reasons for that: 


  • Firstly, digital pragmatism offers you more flexibility and agility. If we look at what happened last year with Covid-19, you’ve noticed that market and customer needs have been strongly impacted. With a pragmatic approach, you can pivot your strategy in order to align with the ever-changing needs of the customers.
  • Secondly, digital pragmatism empowers you to take advantage of new and emerging technologies. If you invest heavily in a suite of digital solutions upfront, you have less room to deploy new or emerging technologies that can drive significant change for your organisation down the road. 
  • Finally, digital pragmatism allows you to test and optimise for improved results. Adopting an incremental approach to digital transformation ensures you can effectively track and measure what technology and processes are actually driving transformational change. You’re able to prioritise investments in areas or technologies with the most impact and reallocate resources or budget accordingly. Imagine you deploy a lot of new technologies and processes all at once, it would be extremely difficult to attribute your success to one technology. 


How can I be a pragmatic explorer? 


Now that I just explained to you why you should be a pragmatic explorer when adopting new technologies, you are probably wondering: How can I be that pragmatic explorer? How can I assess which hype I should test and which one I should let go? 


Let’s first take a step back in science and more specifically the innovation adoption cycle. When implementing new technologies, we see different types of actors when it comes to the adoption of new technologies:


  1. Firstly the “early adopters”. Those are the ones that start implementing new technologies when a few success stories, often accompanied by failures, have arised. 
  2. Secondly, the “conservatives”. Those are the ones that are afraid. They don’t invest in new technologies and wait too long to embrace them. 
  3. Thirdly, the “learners”. Those companies are running some proof of concepts or pilots and are learning from them. Based on those learnings they will go ahead and scale further.  This is the type of actor that Semetis wants to be. 


Based on that innovation adoption cycle, Gartner has developed ‘The Hype Cycle’. The Hype Cycle of Gartner has been developed based on research and helps you take a step back and take informed decisions. It helps you, as an advertiser or marketeer, to assess which hype you should explore and which not. The Hype Cycle helps you to be that pragmatic explorer. 


How do Hype Cycles work? 


The model, for those unfamiliar with it, gives a graphical representation of the maturity, adoption and social application of technologies. It shows the typical progression of innovation, from overenthusiasm through a period of disillusionment to an eventual understanding of the innovation’s relevance and role in a market or domain.


  1. The Hype Cycle starts when a breakthrough, public demonstration, product launch or other event generates press and industry interest in a technology innovation. 
  2. Then a wave of “buzz” builds and the expectations for this innovation rise above the current reality of its capabilities. The technology reaches the ‘peak of inflated expectations’. 
  3. Then Interest wanes as experiments and implementations fail to deliver. It’s the phase that makes or breaks a hype. Often we see that a new hype or technology is more complex to put in place. If you’re pragmatic you won’t set your expectations too high.  This stage is called the ‘trough of disillusionment’. 
  4. Some early adopters overcome the initial hurdles, begin to experience benefits and recommit efforts to move forward. Organisations draw on the experience of the early adopters and are getting on the ‘slope of enlightenment’
  5. In the last stage of the hype cycle, we see growing numbers of adoption and penetration accelerates rapidly. 


The Hype Cycle

Source: Gartner

What do we observe on the Hype Cycle for Digital Marketing of 2021?


The Hype Cycle for Digital Marketing 2021

Source: Gartner


  1. Firstly, if we look at the one of this year and compare it with the last few years, we see a normal behaviour of many hypes moving to the right on the cycle. 
  2. However, when looking at the first stage of the cycle, the ‘innovation trigger’, we don’t see many hypes on this stage lately. We believe that this can be partly explained by the disruptive privacy regulations such as GDPR or Apple’s ITP. They have been quite disruptive in our digital industry, both from a technical and legal point of view. Many businesses have been impacted by those disruptive privacy regulations. It has and will have an impact on the data collection and data activation  part. With the rise of those privacy regulations, we saw that some existing technologies have become more important than before. Machine Learning, Server-Side Tracking or Data Clean Rooms for example. Those types of technologies will become more important in the cookieless world we are heading to. 
  3. On top of that, we also see that many hypes are currently in the ‘trough of disillusionment’ and very close to each other. In this stage many mistakes have been made, but existing providers learn from their mistakes. They keep improving their technologies in order to satisfy the early adopters. Many of the hypes we are typically exploring at Semetis will be in that phase. Why? As mentioned earlier, we like to be ‘learners’ at Semetis. We like to explore and learn from new technologies. The ‘trough of disillusionment’ is that typical phase where mistakes have been made, learnings have been shared and technologies have been improved. It’s the phase where you can run some proof of concepts in order to scale on a later stage.
  4. As mentioned earlier, not all hypes are successful. Some are overestimated and will never penetrate the market. Voice Marketing for ex. This is a typical example of an overestimated hype that completely disappeared from the ‘Hype Cycle’ and has never been widely adopted. It seems to be out of the picture. 
  5. Besides some ‘failures’, other hypes have shown more successful results. DCO, Tag Management, Native Advertising or Mobile Commerce are all hypes of a couple of years ago that sound very familiar.


As mentioned earlier, it’s often hard to make a choice between all those hypes. It’s therefore important to remain pragmatic while exploring the hypes. At Semetis, we have explored some of the hypes you’ll see on the latest Hype Cycle for Digital Marketing. Real-Time Marketing’, ‘AI for marketing’ or ‘Conversational Marketingare all hypes we have been exploring. In the different articles we explain to you how we’ve been exploring the different hypes. 




No matter the ‘hype’ you want to jump into, you’ll need a plan. Technology itself is useless. The success of a project doesn’t start with the adoption of a specific technology, it starts with defining your plan, your strategy. Focusing on technology before the strategy is a recipe for disaster. Make sure you define your strategy, your plan before embarking on a Machine-Learning, AI or other technological project.

publication auteur Justine Cremer
Justine Cremer

| LinkedinThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Get in touch

Semetis | Boulevard Saint-Lazare 4, 1210 Brussels - Belgium

Connect with us

Cookie Policy

This website uses cookies that are necessary to its functioning and required to achieve the purposes illustrated in the privacy policy. By accepting this OR scrolling this page OR continuing to browse, you agree to our privacy policy.