In search of early adopters

I talk a lot about early adopters but it’s a term that’s hard to define in some ways. To a great extent, it’s a self-defining group that changes for any particular technological innovation. But the most interesting thing about early adopters is that, in reality, there are very few of them. Fewer than we might like to admit.

A well-known diffusion theory by Everett Rogers places early adopters on the adoption curve between innovators and mass adoption (early majority, late majority and laggards). We frequently refer to this curve to define the majority of alphaWorks users who:

  • Explore and experiment with the latest innovations
  • Tolerate bugs and alpha releases to test out early implementations
  • Impact the design and development of technology through feedback
  • Impact mainstream adoption of ideas and products

While I’m continually reviewing business cases for unproven technologies to be offered to early-adopter communities on alphaWorks, this knowledge doesn’t always make me an early adopter. It’s true that I frequently know about new artists and songs before my friends. But in other things, perhaps like many of us, I fall into the early majority.

I’ve known colleagues who thought up ideas long ago that today are being implemented by someone else. And friends addicted to new technology, who constantly accumulate a plethora of tools and gadgets… willing to give things at least one shot for the sake of innovation or novelty. They are the Early Adopters. Technoholics. Technologically promiscuous. The labels go on… but these are the kind of people that we rely on at alphaWorks for our business model to succeed.

So, where do you sit on the adoption curve?

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