New Media Technologies: How to Pick a Winner from a Loser
Want to know whether your latest tech investment or innovative new media product will be a hit or a flop? You only need to go to the source…. Everett Rodgers.
Long before Macolm Gladwell published his way to the top with The Tipping Point, there was a brilliant professor out at Iowa State University by the name of Everett Rogers. In the late 50’s and early 60’s, Rogers was looking into why farmers accepted certain agricultural innovations, and rejected others. Why did some innovations, that had obvious advantages, never achieve adoption, while others did so quite quickly?
Well it’s all there in The Diffusion of Innovations. So what does agriculture have to do with media technologies? Rogers found that all innovations have certain characteristics that can predict whether or not the technology will be accepted or rejected.
Here is the Rogers punch list (brilliant stuff here).
Relative Advantage – the degree to which the new technology is perceived as being better that the idea it supercedes. For example, cell phones achieved widespread adoption because users could quickly understand the relative advantages of cell phones over land locked phones.
Compatibility – the degree to which a new technology is perceived as being consistent with existing values, past experiences, and user needs. Cell phones plug right into the existing phone system. I can call people who even don’t have a cell phone. Critical mass was quickly achieved.
Complexity – how easy or difficult is the new technology to use? The cell phone operates exactly as a regular phone. No new learning skills required.
Trialability – the extent to which a technology can be experimented with on a trial basis. Everyone could try a friend’s cell phone before they bought it.
Observability – how easily can you see, observe, feel and communicate the results of an innovation to others? Cell phones are easily observed in automobiles, restaurants, social gathers, and all things public. In fact, some new technologies have become observed social status items, which helps fuel the adoption fires.
If you want to learn more, go directly to the source…Dr. Rogers. His book is very readable and filled with fascinating studies of how and why new products either succeed or fail. Why not try this at work…next time someone proposes a new high tech venture, or brand new media concept, apply the Rogers 5 Point Punch List to see if passes with flying colors. If you are missing just one, you may be in trouble.
Check this one out. Do you think it passes the Rogers Test?