Following the Curve, or Leading the Pack

Adapted from On Digital Marketing

Below is the technology adoption curve. Its purpose is to help firms better identify and target potential users for their innovations (product or service) based on the attributes of each type of user. The earlier users are essential to the product’s success, because they are willing to lead and are willing to take risks, so will adopt the product when there is a high degree of uncertainty.

This curve references a ‘Chasm’, or gap, which reflects the increasing reluctance of adopters to make a decision early in the innovation’s lifecycle. Crossing this is necessary to achieve any level of success.

The definitions of each type follow.

The Innovators: the first individuals to adopt an innovation. Innovators are willing to take risks, are often younger and are typically very social.

The Early Adopters: the second fastest category of individuals who adopt an innovation. They have the highest degree of opinion leadership among the other adopter categories. Early adopters can be younger in age, are respected by their peers and are more socially forward than late adopters.

Early Majority: they adopt an innovation after a varying degree of time. The only difference is that here the time of adoption is slightly longer, but the percentage is higher than two earlier adopters, innovators and early adopters. They have an above-average social status, tend to be younger and accept change more quickly than the average.

The Late Majority will adopt an innovation after the average member of the society. The individuals in this category take a lot of time to adopt new technology. They are the ones who will do research because they are skeptical of innovation. They adopt the new technology because of peer pressure.

The Laggards are the last to adopt an innovation. They are reluctant to adopt any change. By the time laggards adopt the new technology it might have already become obsolete. They are fixated on what they have come to believe are tried and true solutions, typically past methods or technologies.

Which definition do you identify with?

Given the changes that are happening in our society, the enormous amount of innovation and the drive to innovate away from older solutions, whether in business or our personal lives, there is a case for looking inward and identifying where each of us are on this curve. Indeed, the rate of change predicted over the coming decade may suggest that the more open, adaptive, and responsive will ultimately be the more successful.

So how might this play out? Perhaps by adopting more innovative systems or tools, or by learning a new technique or simply being curious enough to search out and discover new processes, systems or tools, a business or individual realizes more ease and efficiency. Relying on the same old known, dependable, tried and true, may mark the end of thriving and the beginning of unexpected challenges.

Interesting too that the early adopters tend to be young. As our world demographics shift and aging populations grow, one wonders what impact that might have on innovation, especially those that make our world more efficient and healthy.

Knowing where you are on this adoption curve and consciously deciding to embrace innovation, may mean the difference between following the curve or leading the pack!

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