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How to tell if a technology is worth the hype

Blockchain, smart spaces, deep learning and 4D printing: These are all terms that are mentioned frequently when it comes to future-orientated technologies. Distinguishing between technologies that offer a sustainable economic value and those which are media-hyped is anything but a simple task.

The Hype Cycle of Gartner is a decision tool designed to help interested parties to come to a conclusion. The graph follows Amara's law, which states that "we tend to overestimate the short-term impact of a technology and underestimate the long-term impact”. After the first introduction into the market, exaggerated and unrealistic expectations usually follow. In most cases, the technology already has one or two successful applications, but is still flawed, which leads to disappointment of high expectations. The disillusionment, however, is usually made up for by the (succeeding) appreciation of the technology’s real potentials.

For companies, the Hype Cycle can be an important indicator in deciding whether to invest in a specific technology. Emerging as well as older technologies are categorized along the Hype Cycle and help to understand at which stage the technology is in its development. Initial productivity losses are common after the introduction of a new technology, which is why a company using it should be sure that the technology can compensate for it in the long run.