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The (Technology) Innovation Adoption Curve ‒ A Lifecycle For Positioning Yourself And Business

Written by: Lotta Spjut, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

 

I have been writing about the new technology era with terms such as Web3, NFTs, and the Metaverse in my earlier articles. However, I know it's still a tiny part of the population that even knows or wants to know what these terms mean. With this article, I will go through why everyone is not onboarding simultaneously and how using an adoption lifecycle can help You.

A drawing of how using an adoption lifecycle.

Now You might think, what does the technology adoption lifecycle do with You or Your business?


Well, You can probably agree that technologies like electricity, the internet, mobile phones, and computers are part of Your daily life, and You wouldn't want to be without them. But unfortunately, these technologies tend to be adopted in a similar pattern over time. This pattern is called the Innovation Adoption Curve, and as an individual, You can choose to be early or wait until it's almost too late and You miss the train.


As a business, it helps us understand Why we can't get everyone on board immediately. To improve product positioning, You should understand your audience’s motivations throughout Your product’s lifecycle. Then, spend Your time and effort with those who believe in Your ideas ‒ others will come sooner or later.


Everyone along the curve will fall into one of five categories based on where in the technology adoption lifecycle You choose to test something and why You decide to do it.


Before going into this Innovation Adoption Curve, let's get an overview of how our daily use of technology, like the internet, has nearly doubled in the last ten years, and we spend almost the same time online as we sleep.


Internet doubled the growth over the past ten years


Eleven years ago, in 2011 – Datareporter published its first report in the Global Digital Reports series. Since then, they have published thousands of reports to help people and organizations worldwide find the data, insights, and trends they need to make better-informed decisions.

Source: Datareporter.com
Source: Datareporter.com

Their report “A decade in digital” shows that in ten years, from 2011 to 2021, the global internet user figure has grown to almost 4.9 billion. More than 6 of 10 people worldwide will use the internet at the end of 2021. Kepios analysis reveals that internet users have more than doubled over the past ten years, climbing from 2.18 billion at the start of 2012 to 4.95 billion at the beginning of 2022.

Source: Datareporter.com

Growth rates have fluctuated over the past decade. Still, on an annualized basis, their analysis suggests that the world’s internet population has grown by an average of 9 percent per year since 2011. However, restrictions associated with the COVID-19 pandemic have limited research into internet adoption over the past two years, so there’s a good chance that actual figures are higher than the available data suggest.


Either way, though, at current growth rates, the world’s internet population looks set to pass the 5 billion mark by 2022 (Datareporter.com)

Source: Datareporter.com

We spend almost the same hours Online as the hours we sleep.


According to Datareporter, it is not just user numbers that have shown impressive growth over the past decade. Research from GWI reveals that the “typical” global internet user now spends almost 7 hours per day using the internet across all devices. For context, if we assume that the average person sleeps for roughly 7 to 8 hours daily, the typical internet user now spends more than 40 percent of their waking life online. The latest numbers suggest that the world will spend more than 12½ trillion hours online in 2022 alone.


The theory behind this curve, Diffusion of innovations, breaks down each community or social group into five adopter groups. We are all part of one of these groups; the question is which one You choose. History tells us that the earlier we adapt, the more opportunities for us.

Source: Businessillustrator.com

The Innovation Adoption Curve


This theory searches to explain how, why, and at what rate new ideas and technologies spread along the adoption curve throughout a social group or community. Professor Everett Rogers did communication studies and popularized the theory in his book Diffusion of Innovations; the book was first published in 1962.


Besides that, this curve helps to understand the onboarding process of people, for example, in Web3. The curve also tells us who and how we can help people with the process. It is also interesting for any (product) business. Do Your potential customers resist new technology? You can improve adoption by predicting how these groups will react to new ideas. It illustrates that for any product innovation to reach mass-market success, it needs to get a critical mass of adopters or a “tipping point.” Technologies tend to be adopted over time in a similar pattern. That is the adoption curve (blue line).


This blue line represents the groups of consumers adopting new technology, and yellow is the market share, which reaches 100% following complete adoption. This point is when the market is saturated.

Source: TIBCO Software

How does it work?


Rogers’ research (Diffusion of Innovations) shows that not everyone will immediately adopt a disruptive idea, no matter the apparent benefits. Over years of research, Rogers identified some fascinating personality traits that help organize how people will accept an innovation. We approach innovations in the following ways.


Innovators (2.5%) – Innovators are the first individuals to adopt an innovation. Innovators are willing to take risks, youngest in age, have the highest social class, have great financial lucidity, are very social, and have the closest contact with scientific sources and interaction with other innovators. Risk tolerance has them adopting technologies that may ultimately fail. Financial resources help absorb these failures. (Rogers 1962 5th ed, p. 282)

  • Enthusiastic about new technology, willing to take risks, and not concerned with the idea of failure.

  • Seek out new technology; it’s like a hobby

  • Few innovators= important

  • Open to new things and like going against the grain

  • Comfortable failing in publicly

  • Love trying new things and encouraging others to try out a new app or tool

  • First to upgrade their phones or experiment with a device during beta testing

  • Rarely concerned about failure; they are willing to give a new technology a shot.

  • Initiators of change pursue new ideas and invent new stuff

  • Steve Jobs was an innovator

  • The person introducing new technology into your organization, You are an innovator.

Early Adopters (13.5%) – This is the second fastest category of individuals who adopt an innovation. This group relies on its intuition and vision to make buying decisions. These individuals have the highest degree of opinion leadership among the other adopter categories. Early adopters are typically younger, have a higher social status, have more financial transparency and advanced education, and are more socially forward than late adopters. More discrete in adoption choices than innovators. Realizing judicious choice of adoption will help them maintain a central communication position (Rogers 1962 5th ed, p. 283).

  • Persuasive, willing to work through early bugs and setbacks, and concerned about their reputation

  • Fast to understand the benefits of new technology

  • Early to recognize new ideas and adopt

  • See the potential and love being the first to know about new technology

  • Trust their gut as their decisions aren’t driven by price/usability etc.

  • Trendsetters and comfortable taking risks

  • Concerns about their reputations and like to gather information and personal experience with technology first

  • Want to appear knowledgeable and trendy, so they need to test a tool before throwing their support behind it.

  • Quickly sign up for new social media sites or experiment with a new project management tool for fun

Source: cpifluideng.com

Early Adopters are a small but critical group to the success of a technology’s spread. If technology can succeed with that section of the population, it will hit the tipping point. Now things get interesting, as the following two stages involve most people adopting the technology, crossing 50% market share (blue line in the picture).


Early Majority (34%) – Individuals in this category adopt an innovation after a varying degree of time. This time of adoption is significantly longer than the innovators and early adopters. The Early Majority tend to be slower in the adoption process, have above-average social status, have contact with early adopters, and seldom hold positions of opinion leadership in a system (Rogers 1962 5th ed, p. 283)

  • Logical, practical, and data-driven

  • Pragmatic consumers

  • Need evidence of what technology can accomplish. If a product seems useful, this group will try it; still, they are cautious of fads.

  • Practical-minded

  • No rush, waiting to take feedback from the Early Adopters as they don't want to experiment with new things in the market

  • Interested in technology and data-driven

  • Want proof of its effectiveness; check product reviews, case studies, and real-life user stories before making a purchase, and quietly test out tools before committing

Late Majority (34%) – Individuals in this category will adopt an innovation after the average member of society. These individuals approach an innovation with a high degree of skepticism after most of the community has embraced the innovation. The Late Majority are typically skeptical about an innovation, have below-average social status, very little financial lucidity, are in contact with others in the late Majority and early Majority, and have very little opinion leadership. (Rogers 1962 5th ed, p. 283)

  • Cautious, logical, and non-risktaker

  • Wait for something to become well established

  • Don’t feel confident in their ability to deal with technology and wait for the Early Majority of reviews

  • No risk-takers and don't trust their gut decision

  • Often buy from big companies

  • Want a data-driven reason to adopt the technology

  • Requires research and solid proof that the technology is worth their time

  • Question the need for changes ‒ Not easily persuaded by trends and prefer watching how changes play out before they get involved

  • Snooze on software updates for as long as they can, waiting to hear how their friends react to the updates

  • Skeptical about adopting a new service until that becomes a need for them.

Laggards (16%) – Individuals in this category are the last to adopt an innovation. Unlike some previous types, individuals in this category show little to no opinion leadership. These individuals typically have an aversion to change agents and tend to be advanced in age. Laggards tend to be focused on “traditions,” likely to have the lowest social status, lowest financial fluidity, be the oldest of all other adopters, in contact with only family and close friends, and have very little to no opinion leadership. (Rogers 1962 5th ed, p. 284).

  • Skeptical, resistant to change, and wary of new technology

  • Laggards' lag' behind members of the other four groups

  • Slow progress and falls behind others in accepting change or innovation

  • Resistant to change and do so only when forced to adopt because everyone else has

  • Not at all preferable for the market

  • Use smartphones only because rotary phones are no longer available in the market

  • Wary of new technology

  • Need answers to their “what’s in it for me?” and prefer the status quo; then, they know what to expect

  • Easily frustrated by new technology and quick to give up on a tool that does not immediately make their life easier

  • Unfortunately left behind and can become disconnected from the Majority

  • Unwilling to rely on the experiences and wisdom of others, preferring their insight and what they perceive as truth

  • Often mistake their goals for comfort and do not recognize that even positive change will come at a cost

  • Left with fewer choices because only what the Majority has already decided upon is remaining

  • Often forces to accept change even when it is not beneficial because so few options are left

Important to remember that individuals do not always line up as Innovators in all areas of their decision-making processes. An innovator may adopt cutting-edge green technologies for their homes and yet not belong to an online social network or own a smart TV. We move back and forth across the curve based mainly on the pain points we are trying to solve and our interest in the underpinnings of the change. (productfolio.com)

Source: productfolio.com

How can “The Chasm” help businesses to put the right marketing strategy?


There are gaps between each group of consumers and the other. For example, Geoffrey Moore, an American organizational theorist, management consultant, and author, pointed out in his best-seller "Crossing the Chasm" that the most significant gap is between the early innovators and the early Majority, which he calls "The Chasm.”


Crossing the chasm is tricky, and most businesses fail to do so. Many startups fail to carry their product forward from early to mainstream markets. Entrepreneurs and marketers fail to consider that You must move from left to right in the adoption curve. As a result, they overestimate their market size and how much work and time will go into getting a disruptive idea into the mainstream.


Understanding and using the Innovation Adoption curve and the chasm proactively might change the outcome drastically.


Future will tell


Like I always say. We can't 100% predict the future, though we can't deny what the past taught us either. Sooner or later, we adapt to innovative new technology. Either because we are innovators, laggards, or something in between. You read this article using the internet, a smartphone, or a computer. You have adapted to the innovation curve at some time. Adoption rates have risen fast. The diffusion and adoption rates for new technologies have increased over the years as we have become more tech-savvy.

The above graph by Marketrealist shows the years it took technologies like electricity, television, and the internet to be adopted by at least 25% of the US population. Telephones took 35 years to spread through the US markets (SPY). The spread of the internet and smartphones occurred at a much faster pace of seven and four years, respectively. According to statistics, smartphones grew from 5% to 40% in only four years.


To sum it all up


Latest technology innovations, like Web3, You can find out about Web3 for Newbies in one of my earlier articles, will probably have the same speed or even moves faster; who will you be in the Innovation Curve, and where do You Position Yourself as an individual or a business? Well, these questions only You can answer. Most opportunities connected happen before the critical mass hits. Electricity took many decades before it reached a 100% curve, mobile phones less than one decade. But, in the end, most of us will be part of it, and we couldn't think of being without it.


We can probably all agree that technology is not always easy to understand, and it is not about everyone being an innovator because we are not. However, today many technology innovations open doors for ordinary people without tech knowledge to participate in the opportunities. Web3 is a great example. It's still very early, and the opportunities to learn and even work in the space without being a tech nerd are tremendous. Still, to see these opportunities, You need to be open to taking the first step and reach out to the people that can help introduce You. In one of my earlier articles, You can find some tips. Always feel free to contact me if there is anything I can help You answer.


To learn more from Lotta, you can visit her website and connect with her social media accounts; Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Linkedin. Read more from Lotta!

 

Lotta Spjut, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine Lotta Spjut has a passion and drive to inspire and empower people, especially women around the Globe. To use the skills they have, learn new skills and knowledge to grow themself, and become successful individuals and/or entrepreneurs.

She has made hundreds of lectures, speeches, and individual and group training for private and public companies, built on empiric knowledge. Sharing what she has learned and experienced herself to inspire and empower people. Not to compare with her or anyone else but to get inspired. The amount of listeners is not important for her; it is what each person gets out of it.

Lotta is a TEDx speaker, and she was one of 20 Global Women Leaders to Look up to 2021 by Passion Vista & Unified Brainz. She was also selected for Brainz 500 Global Awards 2021” by Brainz Magazine as one of the "500 Global Companies and Influential Leaders recognized for their entrepreneurial success, achievements, and dedication to helping others”. 2022 she got selected for "Who´s Who of the world" and got her own Coffee Table Book.

Lotta’s main business over the last decades has been as a Business Developer, Global Speaker, and Trainer. She has thousands of people all over the world whom she has mentored and educated in leadership, personal development, technology, and entrepreneurship.

Her background is as an Experienced Chief Executive Officer with a demonstrated history of working with leadership. She was an employee for 10 years before she resigned and became her own boss. Master's Degree in Didactic, Bachelor of Education, and many years of experience as a teacher in elementary school and at University. Certified Business Pro Executive Coach, coaching CEOs in different businesses. Bachelor's degree as a health and nutrition developer. Educated people in the health, nutrition, and fitness industry.

Lotta is skilled in Leadership, Coaching, Entrepreneurship, Team Building, Education, and Management. Strong business development and 2015 she started to educate herself about cryptocurrency and blockchain technology and the latest area she is developing her knowledge in is the NFT ‒ and Web3 markets. Lotta’s mission is to help more people understand and get educated about the opportunities within the innovations in technology and web3. She especially wants to inspire and empower more women to learn more about web3.

Her favorite quote is from Arthur Ashe: "Start where You are, use what You have, and Do what You can"! And "You don´t need to be great to start, but You need to start to be great".

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