The Social Media Hype Cycle


Market research firm Gartner has released its 2013 Hype Cycle for Social Software. These prediction lists are interesting in that they sometimes point out emerging technologies to consider. The "Hype Cycle" is Gartner's model for the technology life cycle. They define that cycle as having five phases: a technology trigger, a peak of inflated expectations, a trough of disillusionment, a slope of enlightenment, and a plateau of productivity They have always sounded to me like places from Bunyan's allegory, The Pilgrim's Progress, with its Slough of Despond.

The full report is available for purchase at but the technologies they consider to be on the rise toward inflated expectations include mobile virtual worlds, social co-browsing, and collaborative customer interfaces.

Mobile virtual worlds are simulated environments experienced through mobile device-based avatars. I think of these currently as being targeted at teens for social networking or gaming. Gartner is predicting that they will plateau in five to ten years and might become more mainstream in apps for all ages and beyond gaming.

Social co-browsing is a new term to me. The definition I found is that it is collaborative Web browsing of two or more users from the same social network in disparate physical locations. Confusing? Maybe you don't need to understand it since they predict it will be obsolete before it reaches maturity.

Another rising technology in the next five years might be collaborative customer interfaces. They allow a service representative and a constituent to share a live version of an application.

Technologies that Gartner thinks are peaking in their inflated expectations include gamification, social content, and social recruitment software.

When tools fall into the Trough of Disillusionment, interest wanes as experiments and implementations fail to deliver. Tools currently in the trough are cloud office systems, social media distribution, mass collaboration, and virtual reality.

Technologies currently on the slope of enlightenment can benefit the enterprise and are starting to become more widely understood. These include unified communications and social media engagement solutions.

And what is that "Plateau of Productivity?" That's when mainstream adoption starts to take off. At that phase, there are more clearly defined criteria for assessing provider viability.


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