What is next for innovators and early adopters? – published 2009

 In thought leadership

Many you reading this post are probably are aware of the product adoption curve – an example is shown below (from Wikipedia). It is based on Everett Rogers Technology Adoption Lifecycle model – here is a quick refresh below.

Summarising the curve in words – from Kzero’s blog

Innovators are brave people that are willing to trial new products and services. Typically, the excitement and personal satisfaction of being one of the few to be actually using the product or service is the main reason for take-up. Very importantly, innovators accept that new products or services often contain bug, problems, or hick-ups, but they view these issues as an acceptable process.

Early Adopters are a more integrated part of the local social system than are innovators.  Whereas innovators are cosmopolites, early adopters are localities.  This adopter category, more than any other, has the greatest degree of opinion leadership in most social systems.  Potential adopters look to early adopters for advice and information about the innovation.  The early adopter is considered by many as the “individual to check with” before using a new idea – source: zonalatina.com

Early Majority represent 34% of the population, and are the third in line to adopt new technologies and importantly the joint highest in terms of overall numbers.

Whereas Innovators and Early Adopters will often quite willingly trial, test and adopt new products and services, the Early Majority are slightly more elusive and harder to trigger. Just like Innovators tip and influence Early Adopters, the Early Majority rely on (typically first-hand) recommendations from Early Adopters.

Late Majority always follow the Early Majority when it comes to the adoption of new technologies. Although the Late Majority represent exactly the same proportion (34%) of the general population as the Early Majority, timing isn’t the only factor that distinguishes the two.

These types of consumers are extremely risk averse, tending to only use new products and services once they have become mainstream. Importantly, these people do not really listen to opinion and are not influenced by others to use something new.

So, from a relationship perspective, whereas Early Adopters follow the views of Innovators and the Early Majority are influenced by the Early Adopters, the Late Majority decide for themselves when they will take a service.

Laggards are the most conservative (and probably like Jane Fonda have just discovered the internet).

Based, on this, I would count myself as an innovator.

  • I have been using email since it was known as a bulletin board system (BBS) in 1983.
  • I’ve had a personal website since 1994 when I was at University in Adelaide.
  • I had a pager in 1991, and bought my first mobile (Nokia N1000 AMPS) in 1994.
  • I’ve been on Linkedin since 2004, and blogging since 2000 before we called it blogging.
  • I’ve been on Twitter since 2007.

So what next?  I am constantly trying new things out but it feels like I’m trying almost every tool and mobile widget – so what are innovators like me supposed to be doing next? What things are really ahead of the curve that we innovators and early adopters should be looking at now, before (like twitter) they jump the adoption curve and become mainstream.

If anything, twitter is an excellent poster child for Geoffrey Moore’s excellent 1991 book Crossing the Chasm that discussed the difficulties of moving technology product adoption from the early adopters to the early majority.  Twitter seems to have done it in just under a year.

Answers please on a postcard, or a tweet, or simply comment below!

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About 

Futurist Keynote Speaker and former IBM Global Managing Partner, Andrew is a popular and sought-after presenter and commentator on issues around digital disruption and emerging technologies. He is a multiple TEDx & International Keynote Speaker. Watch his speaking showreel here, enquire about availability & fees here.