Diffusion of Innovations


Diffusion of Innovations

Posted on July 2015

PG Bartlett has been around this industry for as long as I have.  We met more than two decades ago when he was with Arbortext in Ann Arbor, Michigan. I was at Information Mapping and we were working together on a project involving Lucent and SGML.  PG recently mentioned that one the most influential business books he has ever read is Diffusion of Innovations by Everett Rogers.  It's not a quick read but there is a lot of wisdom inside and I agree that this book is important.  Here are some comments and there will be more in future newsletters.  (Quotes are in Italics.)

"The Internet has spread more rapidly than any other technological innovation in the history of humankind."

"We suggest that such interactive communication technologies may be changing the diffusion process in certain fundamental ways such as by removing, or at least greatly diminishing, the role of spatial distance in who talks to whom about a new idea."

The internet has allowed Simply XML to focus and solve a global problem with global customers and reach while supporting a regular presence with my family, friends, and Frank.

"How potential adopters view a change agent affects their willingness to adopt new ideas."

This may be obvious, but it relates to the formation and premises behind Content Mapper and Simply XML.  At the turn of the century we were looking for a technology that would become an additional leg for our company to stand on and we focused and spent large sums of money at the intersection of structured writing and structured mark-up.  The sale of Information Mapping allowed us to clear our liabilities and focus exclusively on this emerging and exciting market.  Our vision of an enterprise XML architecture has taken longer to appear than we have imagined, but our fundamental premises remain the same:

"A technology usually has two components: (1) a hardware aspect, consisting of the tool that embodies the technology as a material or physical object, and (2) a software aspect, consisting of the information base for the tool."
"Thus, the innovation-decision process is essentially an information seeking and information processing activity in which an individual is motivated to reduce uncertainty about the advantages and disadvantages of the innovation.  
The main questions that an individual typically asks about a new idea include "What is the innovation?" "How does it work?" "Why does it work?" What are the innovation's consequences?" and "What will its advantages and disadvantages be in my situation?" complexity is the degree to which an innovation is perceived as difficult to understand and use."

We see the need for technology as nuanced above. Our customer adoption process is actually driven by these and related questions. We have a demo to show Content Mapper but we always start with the customer's issues and environment. We talk about how Content Mapper works and why various features are included. We then discuss the impact Content Mapper will have on the customer's organization and the trade offs.

"The characteristics of innovations, as perceived by individuals, help to explain their different rates of adoption:

What a great book! We are only in Chapter 1 here, but you can probably guess that the next step in our customer adoption process is experiential.  No one buys Content Mapper without a free trial.

Frank needs a walk now so we'll continue this discussion in the next newsletter.  He says, "Good job, Doug, you may have a cookie."