It’s a Wonderful Life (for second adopters of technology)


Didn't know about this bonus feature on the DVD, right?

Didn’t know about this bonus feature on the DVD, right?

Behold the technophile, shiny new whatsit in hand, regaling you about the benefits of living on the cutting edge of techn–

“whoa, wait a second, gotta download another update to stay ahead of the crowd.”

Is it any wonder that technology intimidates so many people? No matter how hard you try to learn, there will always be thousands, if not millions of people who have just found something faster, leaner, better, prettier.

 Our Noisy Earth

The world is a noisy place these days, and no industry creates buzz (a.k.a. noise) than the tech industry.

I’ve had 70+ year olds asking about “The Cloud.” (That’s another topic, by the way, cloud computing is useful, but has been marketed as magical). Because of this ever-increasing glut of tech products and programs, many people simply don’t bother to keep up at all.

For fear they’ll have to do it all, they do nothing.

Here’s a message of hope for those of you feeling discouraged about not living on the cutting edge–life’s a lot better for second adopters of technology than the first.

Why It’s Better to Be Second

There are some exceptions to this rule, of course. If you work for an R & D department, Wired Magazine or your business model is based on technology that just became available last week, by all means, you should investigate all new relevant developments.

But for the majority of businesses and organizations who just want to use technology to connect with and serve their customers, being the first adopter of a brand new technology is often an commitment to slog through buggy-ness and low utilization. Let those passionate about that particular type of technology suffer through that period for you. It’s not your cross to bear and you have very little to gain by being first.

 Business may be a sport, but since the technology you use has no finish line, you’re far better off drafting just behind the masochists in first place.
Photo Credit Snappa 2006, Flickr

Photo Credit Snappa 2006, Flickr

The trick is to get in after the service/product/program has proven it’s value and worth. Most of them follow a shallower version of the Bell Curve.

technology bell curve

You want to get in early, but not first. And then only if it makes sense to your business model. This allows you do get the maximum return for time and resources invested in the technology and encourages higher utilization rates.

Say you are a realtor with a new whiz-bang program that allows users of mobile devices to find home listings near their current location. That’s a good concept, but are your customers going to use it? You could end up spending lots of money on a service that your customers may not be familiar with or use. Knowing your target audience is always good advice, and it applies just as much to technology deployment as it does to content creation.

After all you could create a social media network for retirement home residents (the day is fast approaching where that will make sense, I’m sure).

How to Know When to Jump In


Questions to ask yourself before investing time and money into a new technology:

  1. What are first adopters saying? What flaws are there, can I live with them?
  2. Do I have a plan on how this technology will be used or am I just doing it to “see what pens?”
  3. What is a reasonable utilization rate to shoot for? What’s the cost (in both dollars and time spent setting up and maintaining the technology) as compared to the rate?
  4. Does this technology duplicate something we already do? Will it replace an old system or add to it?
  5. At what point would continuing use of the technology make sense? (Inevitably that day will come, a decision to pull the plug may come faster if the technology is particularly expensive on a per-user basis).



Just like making the decision on what forms of Social Media to use, what content to create online, or deciding what products and services to offer, choosing new technology for you business cannot be a “do it all or do nothing” proposition. Using technology as a second adopter when you have a good business case will give you the greatest return on investment. Adding technology for technology’s sake is a very inefficient (and often ineffective).

It’s all about having a plan, and being On Purpose.