The Gartner Hype Cycle

The purpose of the Gartner Hype Cycle is meant to understand the general human behavior to new innovations and technologies when they become real and applicable in a market. When innovations are promoted, there is usually a “hype” around the potential of what that technology can do, and more importantly, what it means for the future of an industry and the people working in it. The Gartner Hype Cycle can also be used as a tool to help individuals: 1.) understand they’re industry and how it reacts to new technologies as a whole and; 2.) inform people about their individual appetite for risk in relation to the promise of an emerging technology within their industry.


Interpreting Technology Hype

As described by Gartner, the Hype Cycle Methodology illustrates peoples’ abilities to know their risk appetite. For example, are you someone who feels strongly about making early moves? Is a moderate approach appropriate? Or, should you wait for further maturation? All of these decisions are based on the value of the technology today, what you think is possible in the future, how much of that future can you can influence, and how much money you’re willing to spend today to make that happen.


The Gartner Hype Cycle is defined in the image below:

The two facets that determine value in this model are expectations and time. According to Gartner, the 5 touch points or human realizations are defined as the following:

  • Innovation Trigger: A potential technology breakthrough kicks things off. Early proof-of-concept stories and media interest trigger significant publicity. Often no usable products exist and commercial viability is unproven.
  • Peak of Inflated Expectations: Early publicity produces a number of success stories — often accompanied by scores of failures. Some companies take action; many do not.
  • Trough of Disillusionment: Interest wanes as experiments and implementations fail to deliver. Producers of the technology shake out or fail. Investments continue only if the surviving providers improve their products to the satisfaction of early adopters.
  • Slope of Enlightenment: More instances of how the technology can benefit the enterprise start to crystallize and become more widely understood. Second- and third-generation products appear from technology providers. More enterprises fund pilots; conservative companies remain cautious.
  • Plateau of Productivity: Mainstream adoption starts to take off. Criteria for assessing provider viability are more clearly defined. The technology’s broad market applicability and relevance are clearly paying off. (

While the Hype Cycle does a brilliant job illustrating the general journey of new technologies in an industry, it is my take that it does not accurately represent the Golf Industry and the operators who work in it. Below is an illustration of the golf’s reaction to new innovations. I will explain why we posit this illustration as being a better representation than the general Hype Cycle illustration.


The Golf Industry Hype Cycle

The Golf Industry as a whole is not volatile. It is far more predictable and conservative then most industries and the blue-collar nature of its operations, like maintenance, adds a level of healthy skepticism to new technologies that are introduced. Operators like Superintendents really need to feel and experience newer technologies before they are “sold” on its application on their courses.


Innovations Triggered

Innovations that make their way into Golf have generally been proven in other markets—like FAIRWAYiQ’s IoT equipment reporting concept or Greensite’s use of drones to monitor soil temperatures. Both technologies and business models have been widely accepted in the agriculture industry and other ‘AgriTech’ industries adjacent to Golf. Because of this, “Innovation Triggers” are generally higher up on the “Expectations” curve and make for less of an upswing the further along the “Time” scale we travel. Buyers at this stage will have the greatest influence in their investments because companies are looking to create the best product fit and can only do so by testing the market and listening to what the buyers’ need.


Peak of Inflated Expectations

As mentioned earlier, Golf has a healthy skepticism for newer innovations and new-comers introducing solutions to the market. Golf’s Peak of Inflated Expectations to new innovations is far more even-keeled than other industries. The lack of volatility prevents Golf from making any knee-jerk reactions.


Trough of Disillusionment

Because Golf airs on the side of caution when adopting new technologies, many of the innovations introduced to the Golf industry have already been accepted and proven in other adjacent industries like farming, agriculture, and commercial construction. The most difficult part of applying newer technologies in the Golf industry is creating a widely accepted application or turnkey solution for the mass market. Much of the newer technologies are being tested and customized to fit each and every individual need for Superintendents and Golf Pros. Eventually, these technologies will mature and be considered ‘off-the-shelf’ products and services that will be fit for the masses. The so-called “Trough” less likely to come crashing down as a result of Golf’s conservative nature.


Slope of Enlightenment

As mentioned in the previous paragraph, the Slope of Enlightenment is really where innovations mature and become turnkey solutions specific for the Golf Industry as whole. Admittedly, we are still several years away from this stage and will likely see many companies come in and out of the picture between now and then. What is great about this future is that it is inevitable and will catapult productivity across every level in Golf.


Plateau of Productivity

The Plateau of Productivity will likely not plateau for some time in Golf. As manufacturers and leading brands continue to unveil improved equipment and products, the supplemental technologies that integrate with these assets will also improve and dramatically increase the productivity and efficiency of staff on the course. We are likely 10 years from this stage depending on how quickly innovations are adopted by Golf.