Sector convergence and the accelerated Hype Cycle?
We’ve been watching the development of a few new emerging technologies and I’d like to posit a thought – sector convergence around technology is accelerating the move of new technologies towards the tipping point of product adoption at a faster rate than ever before.
Gartner’s classic Hype Cycle plots the adoption of technology by wider audiences against the maturity of said technology. However as the adoption of technology itself is becoming a trend it feels that this is accelerating certain technologies along the course of the Hype Cycle path. You can view Gartner’s latest (2014) iteration of the Hype Cycle here.
What the hell am I talking about you ask?
Well take the trend of the quantified self. I’ve been “quantifying” myself for several years now creating a greater and greater volume of data on an annual basis. I’m a keen off roader runner and have used Strava (and previously Endomondo) for several years now.
Over time I’ve used various devices to collect this data, all coming from slightly different sectors. I started using my mobile, running a mobile app whilst out. Then I started using a Garmin watch then downloading the data when I got home. I’ve recently considered getting a smartwatch to test how this performs when set the challenge in the great outdoors (I’m waiting to find the household budget to justify buying Fitbit Surge to play with).
All of these devices come from different sectors. Strava/Endomondo coming from a community driven, designed for mobile app development. Garmin are early and continuing pioneers of GPS hardware technology with a focus originally on marine and outdoor pursuit products. Smart watches from brands such as LG, Samsung and now Apple coming from a mobile hardware background or relatively newcomers the likes of Fitbit, Nike Fuelband (now dropped out of future developments), Pebble and Jawbone looking at lightweight wearable health tracking.
If you look at other wearable tech industry areas, the same can be applied but it comes from an even wider range of sectors. With companies who are very much already in the tech sector such as Google with the development of Google Glass (now on hold in the consumer market), to new specialist market entrants such as Hexoskin or OMSignal . . , through to fashion leaders such as Ralph Lauren Polo or the likes of car manufacturers looking how they make their cars “smarter”. All of these brands are becoming involved in the development of smart sensors, local transport protocols and user interface technology either directly or through demand.
This wider interest comes with experience in areas that each other might not specialise in, which inevitably should accelerate the technology development and in turn you’d expect its maturity and then adoption. This requirement or affect is already becoming apparent in some tech/fashion companies, Apple have been hiring across the market with Sir Jonathan Ives recently bringing in recruits to Apple from likes of from Burberry.
To be fair to Gartner, I am aware that their model doesn’t use specified time periods, instead talks of product maturity. Instead I propose that for certain technologies (that are being adopted by multiple industry sectors) that product maturity is coming a lot quicker due to a rising global trend in technology adoption.
Let’s not get carried away here, there are many challenges still facing the development of technology, in particular wearable tech (Techcruch talks of a few this week), but perhaps these challenges will be solved quicker with a wider variety of skills working to solve their challenges and a greater demand for a solution.
How long will this trend in technology innovation last and what will be the legacy of this trend? It would be great if it could have a lasting impact on something useful (such as health) rather than just an aesthetic influence.