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Emerging Technologies: Long-Term Vision vs. Short-Term Hype

Updated: Dec 11, 2023

In today's fast-paced, tech-driven world, the buzz around emerging technologies is impossible to ignore. From Artificial Intelligence and Blockchain to Quantum Computing and the Internet of Things, the landscape is brimming with innovation. While these technologies promise to reshape industries and revolutionise the way we live and work, it's crucial to maintain a clear perspective amidst the often overwhelming hype. In this article, we'll explore the importance of striking a balance between long-term vision and short-term hype when it comes to adopting emerging technologies.

The Hype Cycle

Gartner developed an excellent visualisation of how specific technologies mature, are adopted, and are applied through five phases, known as the “Hype Cycle.” The maturity and adoption of emerging technologies can be represented and explained by the Hype Cycle. It starts with the Technology Trigger, where a breakthrough or an innovative new concept captures the imagination of the industry. This is followed by the Peak of Inflated Expectations, where early adopters envision the technology as a silver bullet for their challenges. However, the inevitable Trough of Disillusionment follows as the limitations and complexities of the technology become apparent. The Slope of Enlightenment leads to more practical applications where real examples of technology benefits begin to crystallise. Eventually, with time and understanding, the technology reaches the Plateau of Productivity, where its real value is realised and adoption becomes more mainstream

The Allure of Short-Term Gains

In the rush to stay ahead of the curve and sometimes blinded by the attraction of shiny new tech, many organisations fall into the trap of chasing short-term gains promised by emerging technologies. These early adopters invest heavily, expecting immediate results or that the new technology magically could solve all of their challenges, only to find themselves in the trough of disillusionment. This is where a pragmatic approach is vital. It's crucial to understand that most emerging technologies require time to mature, for practical use cases to be developed, and for seamless integration into existing workflows to be achieved.

The Role of Long-Term Vision

A long-term vision is the compass that guides organisations through the noise that surrounds technology hype and ensures that sanity prevails. It requires setting clear business strategic goals, understanding the technology's potential in achieving these goals, and aligning it with the company's broader mission. It means recognising that the journey from trigger to productivity is not a sprint but a marathon and that the technology adoption process should always be led by clear business outcome objectives to avoid falling victim to the hype. A long-term vision ensures that the organisation invests in emerging technologies with a strategic mindset, rather than reacting to short-term trends.

Key Strategies for a Pragmatic Approach

  1. Create a Roadmap: align your business strategy with a technology roadmap that aligns how your business will grow, the capabilities that it will need, and how technology will support it. This will form the basis for assessing the viability of new technology.

  2. Continuous Learning: Stay informed about emerging technologies, but don't rush into implementation. Invest in researching and understanding how these technologies can address your specific challenges.

  3. Pilot Projects: Before scaling up, run pilot projects to assess the real-world applicability and limitations of the technology. Adopt a test-and-learn philosophy, allowing to learn from failures and make informed decisions.

  4. Collaboration: Partner with experts and other organisations. Collaborative efforts can accelerate your understanding and mitigate risks associated with new technologies.

  5. Reskilling: Invest in training and upskilling your workforce. Emerging technologies often require new skill sets. A well-prepared team can lead the way to successful adoption.

  6. Risk Management: Understand the risks associated with each technology. Develop risk mitigation strategies to handle potential setbacks during the implementation phase.

The Bottom Line

While it's impossible to ignore technological advancement and essential to embrace innovation, it's equally important to maintain a pragmatic approach when dealing with emerging technologies. Avoid getting swept up in the hype, and instead, focus on your long-term vision, ensuring that clear business objectives guide decisions. Recognise that the path from excitement to productivity is a journey, and each step along the way contributes to the ultimate success of your technology initiatives. By doing so, you position your organisation to harness the true transformative power of emerging technologies while minimising the risks associated with short-term hype.

Remember, in the world of emerging technologies, it's not always about being the first; it's more often about being the first to do it right.

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