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Technology Adoption – Two Beliefs You Need to Undo
How experts explain technology adoption cycle

Here is further proof that “Consumerization of IT” (CoIT) is a reality. And, that has significantly altered the dynamics of technology adoption. Before I explain this shift, let us look at…

How experts explain technology adoption cycle
The accepted premise is that every new technology goes through the following phases:

  1. Hype: Search for next big thing leads to Hype around any new technology.
  2. Struggle: Adoption of these Bleeding Edge technologies depended on the Visionaries who had the vision, energy and money to make it work.
  3. Success: Mainstream adoption required convincing the Pragmatists who needed success stories and support system around the technology.

Not all technologies made it to mainstream. All these are from the perspective of an enterprise. Consumers had very little role to play in this lifecycle. This underlying theme comes out in both the “Hype Cycle” model used by Gartner since 1995 and the “Technology Adoption Lifecycle” model popularized by Everett Rogers and Geoffrey Moore.

Though the curve looks different and one is plotting “Expectation” and the other is plotting “Adoption Rate” against time, both of them are based on the same three basic premises I had stated earlier. But do we have evidence to support these theories?

What does past Gartner Hype Cycle data say?
If this pattern of technology adoption is true then most of the technologies that find a place in the “Slope of Enlightenment” should have, in the past, appeared in the “Peak of Inflated Expectations”. Let us see if this is really the case.

If you examine the Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies of 2011 you will see that 7 technologies are listed under “Climbing the Slope of Enlightenment”.

  1. Consumerization – appeared directly in “Slope of Enlightenment” in 2011
  2. QR/Color Code – appeared directly in “Slope of Enlightenment” in 2011
  3. Idea Management – first appeared in “Trough of Disillusionment” in 2007
  4. Biometric Authentication Methods – appeared directly in “Slope of Enlightenment” in 2010
  5. Mobile Application Stores – first appeared in “Trough of Disillusionment” in 2010
  6. Predictive Analytics – appeared directly in “Slope of Enlightenment” in 2010
  7. Speech Recognition

So, 6 of the 7 technologies NEVER crossed the left “Peak of Inflated Expectations”. Only exception is “Speech Recognition”. That means only of 1 these 7 technologies have ever been hyped up!

Since looking at only one year data is too small a sample size, let us look at the data over a 5 year period. Between 2007 and 2011, total 15 distinct technologies appeared under “Climbing the Slope of Enlightenment”. Out of this list of 15 only 3 ever appeared in the “Peak of Inflated Expectations”. Again the hit rate is 1 in 5! Therefore…

Lesson #1: Successful technologies are NOT likely to be hyped up!

Now, let us look at the full list of 15 technologies…

The list of 27 technologies that found a place in Slope of Enlightenment


Climbing the slope

First Appeared in
Enterprise Instant Messaging


“Sliding through the trough” on 2006
Basic Web Services


Appeared directly


“Sliding through the trough” on 2004
Tablet PC


2003 or earlier
Corporate Blogging


“Sliding through the trough” on 2008
Electronic Paper


2003 or earlier


Biometric Authentication Methods


Appeared directly
Interactive TV


“Sliding through the trough” on 2010
Internet Micropayment Systems


Appeared directly
Predictive Analytics


Appeared directly


Appeared directly
Idea Management


“Sliding through the trough” on 2007
Mobile Application Stores


“Sliding through the trough” on 2010
QR/Color Code


Appeared directly

Six of the 15 technologies did not even “slide through the trough” and directly started “climbing the slope of enlightenment”. If you look at the 2011 hype cycle the number is even starker – it is 4 out of 7! Majority of these technologies, when they enter the radar of the enterprise, has already been adopted by the consumer. Though, enterprise success stories may not be available but the kinks around the technologies would have already been sorted out by the consumers. Since your consumer may already be using these technologies, they may become very important channel to reach out to your customers. Therefore…

Lesson #2: Waiting for success stories will leave the field open for your competitors!

Consumerization of IT and its implications

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About Udayan Banerjee
Udayan Banerjee is CTO at NIIT Technologies Ltd, an IT industry veteran with more than 30 years' experience. He blogs at
The blog focuses on emerging technologies like cloud computing, mobile computing, social media aka web 2.0 etc. It also contains stuff about agile methodology and trends in architecture. It is a world view seen through the lens of a software service provider based out of Bangalore and serving clients across the world. The focus is mostly on...
  • Keep the hype out and project a realistic picture
  • Uncover trends not very apparent
  • Draw conclusion from real life experience
  • Point out fallacy & discrepancy when I see them
  • Talk about trends which I find interesting

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