Technology Adoption: Escaping the Hype to Maximize Decision-Making
In this edition of Insider Interviews, HG Insights’ CTO Rob Fox shares his insights into the MarTech adoption cycle from his 30+ years of experience in the software industry — from hype to disillusionment — and how those worthwhile technologies can deliver on their promises.
Rob, drawing from your 30+ years of working in the industry, how far has it come, and where do you see it going?
Over the last 30 years through to today, I’m excited by the opportunities I see all around me in software development and emerging technologies, particularly when it comes to insights and building data-driven solutions for customers. But there’s still a long way to go to deliver on all the promises the industry’s made.
For example, every morning I have dozens of emails touting some technology that’s going to forever change the way I work, everything from intelligent cybersecurity to payroll solutions. As email marketing revenue explodes at a rate of over 300 billion emails a day, my inbox and LinkedIn messages are consistently at critical mass with all this sales and marketing outbounding based on what they think I’m responsible for. The irony is that, by reaching out to me, their prospecting data is faulty because they’re poor-fit solutions for me and my work at HG Insights (we are all in trouble the day I am responsible for payroll!).
It’s too bad because all these outbound efforts are just wasted time and resources. LinkedIn Sales Solutions’ Marketing VP Gail Moody-Byrd recently said, “Too many sales professionals are stuck in what we’ve come to call ‘shallow selling’ — an endless, frustrating loop of contacting more and more potential buyers in ways that no longer work.” The software industry is plagued by these “spray-and-pray” sales and marketing tactics, which are frequently linked to the technology hype cycle.
What is the Technology Hype Cycle?
When a new technology comes onto the market, everyone gets excited about how it will continue to change the way we live and to adopt it. The Hype Cycle is an approximation of how a specific technology will evolve over time. This helps businesses discern whether it’s a good fit for their needs, when to adopt the product, and how to effectively deploy the solution to achieve specific business goals.
The Hype Cycle can be distilled into the five parts of a technology’s life cycle:
1. Technology Trigger
This is when excitement is rising around new technology — there are promising use cases and proof-of-concept stories that raise interest in adoption. There’s a rush of early adopters during this stage, even though the tech/product/solution usually isn’t yet manufactured and the commercial viability has not yet been explored.
2. Peak of Inflated Expectations
Early applications of the new technology surface success stories, prompting some companies to adopt it early, though the majority don’t.
3. Trough of Disillusionment
As more companies adopt a new technology, it starts to become clear that it doesn’t deliver on all the promises it has made. Investors and buyers become disenchanted with the technology and the providers are pushed to improve their products or lose their customers.
4. Slope of Enlightenment
Use cases and limitations of the technology become more understood by the market. More iterations are introduced and the product/solution is improved.
5. Plateau of Productivity
Adoption becomes mainstream in the market, and the technology’s use cases and market fit are well established.
When a company is considering buying a novel technology, the Hype Cycle can help you:
- Separate hype from the real drivers of a technology’s commercial promise
- Reduce the risk of your technology investment decisions
- Compare your understanding of a technology’s business value with the objectivity of experienced IT analysts
So, where in the Hype Cycle is MarTech software now?
MarTech software is in the Trough of Disillusionment. Here’s why:
There are countless sales and marketing products/solutions available and so many MarTech companies vying for your attention via “shallow selling,” and buyers are getting confused by unclear or misleading messaging and frustrated by underperforming MarTech stacks. The promises that these MarTech stacks are making — for example, the promise of highly prescriptive targeted marketing campaigns and sales outreach — have not yet been delivered.
As early adopters interact more and more with the solution, the tech doesn’t deliver and the novelty wears off, trust erodes, and investors and buyers get disenchanted with the MarTech stacks and adoption slows. That’s why MarTech software, the whole MarTech stack itself, is in the Trough of Disillusionment.
Let’s look at the M&A industry consolidation. Many data companies are getting scooped up, then inefficiently deployed. This reduces their ability to push the technology further, to deliver on the promises it has made. The software industry is rife with examples:
- Datanyze being acquired by ZoomInfo
- Datafox EOL after acquisition by Oracle
- DemandMatrix and InsideView were acquired by DemandBase
- If you need more examples just look at the Google Graveyard
This cycle — the way software hits the market full of promise, get acquired, and then they’re underleveraged or sunsetted/EOL’d — leaves customers, and the industry, underwhelmed. This is why we’re in the Trough of Disillusionment.
Interest wanes as experiments and implementations fail to deliver. Producers of the technology shake out or fail. Investment continues only if the surviving providers improve their products to the satisfaction of early adopters.
The Hype Cycle can make or break a product, especially when it’s stuck in the Trough of Disillusionment. Unfortunately, the result is that some worthwhile technologies get a bad reputation. That’s to say the entire ecosystem is ripe for improvements. Breaking through the hype cycle is difficult, and rarely comes by way of acquisition, it comes by way of innovative and forward-thinking companies who really understand and tackle the problem.
How can MarTech solutions live up to the hype?
Some technologies do live up to the hype and deliver on their promises.
Let’s look at the Hype Cycle in MarTech solutions. These days, companies recognize the need to be data-driven, but they may not understand how far down the rabbit hole they have to go to be effective, or how to effectively operationalize in a holistic way across their entire GTM ecosystem in a non-fragmented way. Today, technographics is not enough. Hitting aggressive growth targets requires more than data on the best product, distribution, and people. In fact, in today’s economic climate go-to-market teams are expected to increase productivity to maximize sales results while reducing the resources expended. This requires actionable data-driven insights businesses can use right away – delivered to the right people, at the right time – we call this Technology Intelligence.
It’s important to understand the differentiation between Technology Intelligence and technographics. Technology Intelligence combines IT install data, technology consumption dynamics, contract insights, intent signals, and spend analysis to provide actionable insights that uncover the companies with the highest propensity to buy your product or solution. It helps you prescribe the right solutions, at the right time.
Finally, how do we climb the Slope Of Enlightenment of technology adoption?
Unfortunately, the market is flooded with subpar data providers claiming to provide technographic data (let alone true Technology Intelligence). It is plaguing adoption, slowing innovation, and keeping the industry in the trough of disillusionment. Technology Intelligence, the data-driven insights that enable growth and revenue acceleration, lives up to the hype, and it’s beginning to help us climb the Slope Of Enlightenment.
For HG customers, knowing the complete technical landscape of a customer or prospect (with full context) is using is the difference between making a sale or missing a quota. You have to know your market to grow your market, and we are the only provider that can give you a comprehensive view of the entire technology ecosystem, at the account level, globally that can accelerate growth.
In addition to being the only provider of Technology Intelligence, we continuously innovate on our market-leading solutions: our updated Platform 2.0 with an improved Salesforce Connector, enabling customers to have a more enhanced experience within the CRM with real-time data to navigate rapidly changing markets; Contextual Intent solution, providing buyer intent data with market-leading technology insights; and Functional Area Intelligence, providing predictions on where detected technologies are used on both a departmental and location-specific level within an organization.
By delivering on their promises, these products help combat the Hype Cycle and get us out of the Trough of Disillusionment. Now it’s time to climb the Slope of Enlightenment and weed out suboptimal players. Some companies will fall away, some will specialize and live up to the hype.
It’s time to cut out the noise of bad data and make some noise about HG’s Technology Intelligence!