Here at Nebbia Technology, we interface with dozens of companies across many different industries. They are all using different technologies to get their work done, some new, some not so much. While there is no “right answer” in how much new technology you should integrate into your organization, we at Nebbia believe that new technology can help create a competitive edge for you in whatever industry you are in. Still, we recognize that there’s a cost to adopting new technology that can’t be ignored, so most companies should be cautious about attempting to innovate in every part of their technology stack.
Innovation Adoption Lifecycle
What we want to do today is help you figure out where you are on the adoption curve in your use of the Microsoft stack of technologies, and give some free advice about a sweet spot in adopting new technologies and using proven ones. There are five stages in the Innovation Adoption Lifecycle (or Diffusion of Ideas):
- Innovator – You are making the new technology, a risky yet sometimes very rewarding endeavour.
- Early Adopter – You use the technology made by the innovators before many others do. This can give you a competitive edge with less pain.
- Early Majority – You wait to see if a technology seems to be catching on, and then jump on board.
- Late Majority – You are slow to adopt new technology, and only after half of the industry is using a technology do you dive in.
- Laggard – You avoid progress like the plague. Your view is that if it works, it works, there’s no need for change.
It is said that in any given technology, 2.5% of us are Innovators, 13.5% are Early Adopters, 34% are Early Majority, 34% Late Majority, and 16% are Laggards.
You could be an Early Adopter in one category (how you store data, for example) and a Laggard in another (how you do application monitoring). Most companies have a spread between these technologies. Our goal here is to help you figure out where you are at overall and to highlight some of the areas you may want to consider updating if you are in the Late Majority or Laggard Area.
I believe that a healthy mix of where you are at is when you have a few strategically chosen technologies from the Innovators category, at least a third of technologies (if not more) in the Early Adopter category, and the rest in Early Majority.
Why that mix? If you attempt to Innovate in every technology category, then you risk spending a lot of time and effort figuring out what doesn’t work. For example, if you are brick and mortar retail chain, innovating in how emails are sent is probably going to be a waste of time. Still, it’s helpful to pick a few key areas to focus on innovating in. In the retail chain example, if you were the first to use artificial intelligence to hone in on buying habits more closely than your competitors, you might have a good reason to spend a lot of time doing that.
Early adopters are rewarded by all the hard work the Innovators did, and while there still will be some pain points in adopting these technologies, for the most part the benefit outweighs the risk. You could run a successful company with most of your technology stack running in this category, and in fact, you could be moving just a bit faster than your competitors.
By the time technology gets to the Early Majority, there’s little penalty to adoption of these technologies (you are just keeping up with the world), and on the flip side there’s a limited competitive advantage. It’s kind of neutral territory. You can run a successful business using technologies completely in this category, but you won’t be getting too much of a leg up on the competition.
Once you are in the Late Majority you have no technical advantage and you are at risk of adopting technologies that are on their way to being legacy. This is going to be harsh, but if you are Laggard in most technologies, I would make a safe bet that your company is not going to be around for another decade if you don’t make a change.
Microsoft Stack Assessment
We will discuss various technologies and where you stand with your peers. We will tag them as being associated with businesses in various areas of the adoption curve. For example, if we were talking about cars instead of cloud technologies, if you were driving a Ford Model T, you would definitely be in the Laggards area of the adoption curve. If you were driving a Tesla Model 3, you would be in the Early Adopter category. If you were driving prototype Teslas and informing their team, you would be an Innovator.
So what do your results mean?
- 0% to 16% – Primarily Laggard.
- 16% to 50% – Primarily Late Majority.
- 50% to 84% – Primarily Early Majority.
- 84% to 97.5% – Primarily Early Adopter.
- 97.5% to 100% – Primarily Innovator.
If you look back through your answers, you can see the same percentages match up in each category. Undoubtedly you’ll be ahead of the curve in some areas, and behind in others. Of course, this is just a simple Internet self-assessment. Want to know more about why updating some of your stack can bring you a wealth of productivity? Just ask!