Disruptive technology – the cycle of adopting new technology

27 Feb, 2018 - 00:02 0 Views
Disruptive technology – the cycle of adopting new technology

The Chronicle


Robert Ndlovu
THE technology adoption lifecycle, research has shown, is a sociological model that describes the adoption or acceptance of a new product or innovation, according to the demographic and psychological characteristics of defined adopter groups. The process of adoption over time is typically illustrated as a classical normal distribution or “bell curve”.

The model indicates that the first group of people to use a new product is called “innovators”, followed by “early adopters”. Next come the early majority and late majority, and the last group to eventually adopt a product are called laggards. Disruptive technologies like instant messaging, renewable energy, robotics, internet of things, artificial intelligence, autonomous vehicles, drones and others, call for a different approach when sealing with users adoption and use of them.

1. Innovators
The initial users of a new product or technology tend to be more educated, prosperous, and risk-oriented than other members of the market. They are enthusiasts who love technology, and often adopt something simply because it is new. I have personally worked with some of the greatest minds in ICT and telecommunications in the past 15 or so years. Many a time when a new service or product is introduced into the market bugs come along with it. For instance, users of a certain application may complain that they are failing to upload a picture or video. People get paid for finding faults in existing systems. It is called bug hunting.

2. Early Adopters
The early adopter market tends to be younger and more educated than the mainstream market. They are leaders who apply emerging technologies to the opportunities that are important to them. Once upon a time very few people owned a cell phone. The concept of a mobile phone was at one point “something” to talk about. It was associated with a very high status symbol in society. Owning a cell phone two decades ago was a big thing. In fact back law enforcement agents could demand proof that you owned your mobile phone by way of a receipt.

The Bitcoin is the buzz word these days. Those who have chosen to jump onto the band wagon last year and this year are what we call early adopters. So if you are still undecided about your position in crypto-currencies you probably belong to the next group of early majority.

3. Early Majority
The first mainstream users to adopt a new product or technology tend to be more conservative than early adopters, but are open to new ideas. They will not take on the risk of being a pioneer, but will embrace a technology once it’s gotten some traction. This group is at the beginning of a mass market acceptance. These are the kind of people who do not like to rush into making hasty decision. These are people who want to wait and see if everybody else is doing it before they adopt.

The pattern in Zimbabwe confirms this model. Look at how Whatsapp, Facebook and Twitter have grown in popularity. It is this main stream group of users who started forming the so called chatting groups. If you understand the concept of safety in numbers you should know that fish move in groups called schools and they are faced with decisions they must make if they are to remain together.

4. Late Majority
This segment of the market tends to be older, less educated, fairly conservative and less socially active. Late adopters dislike constant innovation, but will begin to use new technologies after widespread acceptance. This group likes to play it safe and never go wrong by choosing to wait. Patience is a virtue.

These are people who really have nothing to lose. Some have no say as to which group that they find themselves in. For instance I know dozens and hundreds of school heads and teachers who have not fully embraced ICT not because they are dumb, but because of the barriers of entry caused by old age.

The fear of the unknown. You should see how some old school bookkeepers frown when they hear that a company is computerizing. Two things scare them.

They might lose their jobs and they can’t operate the computer.

5. Laggards
The final adopters of a new technology tend to be the oldest, most conservative, and least educated segment of the market. The Laggards are the final group of technology adopters. These are people that never purposefully adopt new technology. Laggards only adopt smart phones because that’s all that is available to them. For instance all TV broadcasts must be digital by now. Laggards adopt new technologies because they do not have a choice. Writing a letter, buying a stamp and posting still looks attractive to some.

So, where are you as an individual or organisation when it comes to crypto-currencies and block chain. This stuff is not going anywhere any time soon. So you better get start using it. The early bird always catches the worm.

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