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Focus: RFID and Automated Identification and Data Collection (AIDC)

Feature Article from Our RFID and AIDC Subject Area - See All


From SCDigest's OnTarget e-Magazine

- Nov. 3, 2015 -


RFID, AIDC, and IoT News: Internet of Things Sits Atop Gartner's Emerging Technology Hype Cycle Curve


The IoT is Real, but Gartner Predicts We are in for Some Disillusionment Soon


SCDigest Editorial Staff

For many years, Garter has produced its famous technology "hype cycles," sort of lifecycle curves for various technologies that predict in a sense their journeys from market introduction through high levels of hype to major disappointments and then eventual value.

SCDigest Says:


If history is any guide, that means some of the bloom is likely to come off the IoT rose over the next couple of years, perhaps as companies find the ROI or customer value isn't as ubiquitous as the hype machines might have you believe.


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Below is a graphic of the hype cycle curve in a generic sense, plotting how technology moves from introduction to eventual mass deployment (for some of them at least.) The stages of that lifecycle journey are:

Technology 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.

Usually on an annual basis, Gartner then takes a set of technologies in a given area, such as supply chain, and plots them on this curve.

An almost perfect example of the accuracy of this model relates to RFID, which saw massive hype in 2003 and 2004 as Walmart began rolling out its mandate with suppliers. At that point, RFID would have been near the top of the hype curve.


Gartner's Generic Technology Hype Cycle Curve



Alas, the Walmart RFID program collapsed, and RFID, at least in the consumer goods to retail value chain, certainly entered the dreaded "trough of disillusionment," as venture capitalists lost hundreds of millions of dollars when the Walmart program went south, and little or nothing happened then in RFID for retail for several years thereafter.

(RFID and AIDC Story Continued Below)



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Today, RFID would likely be in the "slope of enlightenment" phase, as item-level tagging in soft goods appears to be delivering real value for a growing number of retailers, led by Macy's. Target just recently announced a major and aggressive new tagging program to drive better inventory accuracy in support of ecommerce, and others are also moving forward, with fairly well documented benefits from the investment.

Not long ago, Gartner issued an updated version of the hype cycle for what it calls "emerging technologies."
SCDigest was interested in the placement of the Internet of Things (IoT), which from a pure media coverage perspective certainly has received an enormous amount of hype over the past couple of years and past 6-9 months especially - hype often driven by vendors and consultants with something to sell. The clear message: if you are not on the IoT bandwagon now, you risk simply being left behind.

Indeed, just this week Fortune magazine's web site ran an article titled "Ignore the Internet of Things at Your Own Risk," citing observations from a panel discussion at a recent conference made up of – what else - IoT technology providers.

"The Internet of things, in which anything from refrigerators to cars are connected online, is such an important development that companies failing to recognize it risk becoming irrelevant," Fortune's Jonathan Vanian wrote breathlessly.

Maybe there is indeed some element of truth in that. But it also sounds like pretty major hype. So SCDiest was interested and glad to see IoT was actually at the very top of this emerging technologies hype cycle, as shown below.



If history is any guide, that means some of the bloom is likely to come off the IoT rose over the next couple of years, perhaps as companies find the ROI or customer value isn't as ubiquitous as the hype machines might have you believe.

Everything will probably be connected in the end, we agree, but it may take some time before IoT gets to the slope of enlightenment (though remote monitoring of major equipment such as tractors from Caterpillar may already be there now).

Note also that IoT software platforms, now being offered from Microsoft, Verizon, Amazon, Cisco and many smaller companies, is climbing up the hype cycle curve, still in the early stage of that journey. These systems are designed to help companies connect devices to the Internet, manage the flow of data from all these things, and store it in the Cloud.

The Internet of Things is real - but the hype is rather thick right now, as Gartner correctly notes.

Do you agree with Gartner's positioning of IoT right now? Is the hype currently exceeding the reality? Let us know your thoughts at the Feedback section below.


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