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The “Intentional Approach” to Technology Adoption Part 6: Using Technology Adoption Theory

Posted by Trent Parkhill on May 6, 2011

Maximizing adoption requires understanding the motivations of different groups of users and tailoring your deployment messages and materials to address their perspectives.  These groups are summarized in Table 1.  Technology adoption guru Geoffrey Moore suggests that the best way to drive broad adoption is to begin with the group at the top of this table, and as you succeed in achieving adoption within each group, use that group to help engage the next group in the table.

Table 1 :

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The “Intentional Approach” to Technology Adoption Part 5: Technology Adoption Theory

Posted by Trent Parkhill on May 2, 2011

Maximizing technology adoption requires understanding the motivations of different groups of users and tailoring your deployment messages and materials to address their perspectives.  So what are these different groups of users and are they really so different?

Understanding how people choose and adopt new technology is critical.  This material is based on the Everett Rogers “diffusion of innovations theory” as adapted by Geoffrey Moore in “Crossing the Chasm.”   Many people are familiar with this work as it is one of the basic models used in the marketing of software and hardware.  What is different here is that I am proposing we can apply this understanding to improve the deployment of new technologies in our companies.

Briefly, Moore suggests that people can be broken up into five distinct groups; that each of these groups has very different motivations that determine if and when they will adopt a new technology, and that success in getting broad adoption requires separately addressing the interests and motivations of each group.  The size and relationship of these groups is typically portrayed as segments of a traditional bell curve (see figure)  The curve illustrates both the general order in which these groups adopt technology and their relative size and importance.  This curve is shown with a gap between the early adopters and early majority groups.  This gap, referred to as “The Chasm”, can take considerable effort and a very different approach to cross.  And until this gap is crossed, you may only have achieved a 16% adoption rate.
Moore suggests that we should begin introducing new technology to those on the left end of the curve and then progress, group by group, toward the right end of the curve.  He also suggests that we should focus on one group at a time, using each group as a base for selling the technology to the next group, and keeping this process moving smoothly from one group to the next.  It is important to not pause and allow a loss in momentum. Read more and comment »

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The “Intentional Approach” to Technology Adoption Part 4: Technology Should Address An Important Need and Be Tailored to the Business

Posted by Trent Parkhill on April 11, 2011

The third impediment to technology adoption is that adoption is hindered when the new system does not address an important need or the initial implementation is not sufficiently tailored to the business to be compelling.  While these impediments apply to implementation of all new technologies, let’s use an enterprise search project to illustrate the point.

Addressing an Important Need

While having an IS project that can solve many important needs is not sufficient to get user adoption, it is necessary. In order to justify the time to learn a new system and the energy to break old habits, the new system must be solving needs that the intended users consider very important.   And the value must exceed the learning time and the time involved in using the new system. Read more and comment »

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The “Intentional Approach” to Technology Adoption Part 3: Understand the Keys to Driving Adoption

Posted by Trent Parkhill on April 8, 2011

In my last blog post, I mentioned that by analyzing our past projects, we can improve adoption of our future information systems projects.   This post will focus on the second impediment identified in this type of review: that adoption is hindered when we do not understand how to drive adoption.

After putting months of work into developing and debugging a new information system, we tend to put little thought and effort into the deployment and promotion of the system we have created.  Our months of experience with the system may have convinced us that it is so easy to learn and such a great system that users will flock to it naturally, or our attention is now focused on possible integration issues.   Or, perhaps we don’t know what steps to take.  Whatever the reason, our mind is not focused on what it will take to drive full adoption, and we are at risk of having to settle for low initial adoption and a slow subsequent rate of adoption growth. Read more and comment »

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Enterprise Search – Thoughts on Organizational Impediments to a Full Implementation

Posted by Trent Parkhill on March 18, 2011

I just read an excellent article by Michael Healey at InformationWeek titled, “Go Rogue with Enterprise Search”.  In this article, Michael makes the point that a relatively small percentage of companies have implemented enterprise search, and that most of the companies who have implemented it have typically indexed only one or some of their sources.  He refers to enterprise search as the “the most powerful but underused technology available to IT” and suggests that the limited use of full enterprise search is not the fault of the software, but rather a problem with how companies view and deploy search.  Anyone considering search should read his article.

In the article, Michael reports on companies who experienced low search adoption rates.  There are many possibly causes for these low rates, including controllable factors (such as those I am discussing in my blog post series, “An Intentional Approach to Adoption”); and factors that have to do with the type of enterprise search solution implemented.

Many of the existing enterprise search implementations might be referred to as “Enterprise Search 1.0” solutions.  That is, these are solutions which are generally embedded in specific systems or content sources, rarely access both structured and unstructured data, and in some cases, due to the proliferation of search within different systems, can only “federate” search results.  Consequently, these legacy enterprise search implementations might require people to know where information is stored, might require the user to search in more than one location, and may struggle with producing quick relevant results.   Given the prevalence of enterprise search 1.0 implementations, it is likely that this older approach to search might have been a good part of the lower adoption rates mentioned in Michael’s article. Read more and comment »

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