Models and Theories in Human-Computer Interaction/Diffusion of Innovation for both individuals and businesses

Diffusion of Innovation for both individuals and businesses Lawrence Greer. edit

One of the reasons I really like the Diffusion of Innovation theory is that it can accommodate how technology is spread for both individuals and business communities. The characteristics of an innovation are exactly what a business community (and some individuals) look for when choosing to implement a new innovation. Does this innovation provide enough of an advantage to be worth it? How big of a process change for us will incorporating this innovation be? How complex is this innovation, and how difficult will it be to get our existing employees up to speed with it? Can we run a trial to see if this really works for us and to get the kinks out, or do we have to switch over to it completely and hope for the best?

I also enjoy how the categories of adopters relates to both business and individuals. Most individuals and businesses are fairly risk averse. They do not wish to invest early in an innovation which may never actually catch on for the wider market. This is especially true for businesses. For an individual it is often frustrating to waste resources investing in being an early adopter for an innovation which never really catches on, but it is not normally a crippling loss of resources. However if a business invests highly in a new innovation, only to see the company supporting that innovation fail to catch the wider market and go under, it could represent a crippling loss of resources. Suddenly a key part of their business is no longer going to receive any future support.

I work in the healthcare industry, and have seen the difficulty various vendors have in getting a hospital system to change over from existing systems to new innovations. No one in healthcare wants to be an early adopter of an innovation, they want proven technology they know will work and be supported. Look at pretty much any major medical software vendor and you’ll see that the hospital system which works with them to be the alpha site for new innovations is geographically very close to the company headquarters. It takes special deals, and the assurance of having the vendor's company having employees close at hand who can come and help support with issues immediately, for a hospital system to even consider taking on the risk of early innovations. One of the leading electronic medical record systems today, Epic, only started taking off after a large hospital system in California implemented their system. Once it was implemented there, neighboring hospital systems slowly switched over to Epic as they were convinced it was stable, and Epic slowly gained acceptance and moved from the West to East coast to where the system I now work for in South Carolina has begun to implement it.

One of the reasons I liked diffusion of innovations over TAM is the inclusion and recognized importance of early adopters and agents of change. I believe that these are extremely important on the individual level. While everyone likes to think of themselves as logical thinkers who make informed decisions about the products/innovations we use, most people do not actually put that much thought into their decisions about what innovations to invest in. The ones who do likely follow the innovation-decision process to make informed choices, but most often we are influenced by what others around us are using. People like to use the products their friends, people they respect, and people that they wish to emulate use. There is a popular marketing axiom that you don’t sale a product, you sell a lifestyle. While everyone likes to think that they are choosing to buy an ipad or smart watch because they have thought it through and know how great a product it is, and what they will get out of using it, far more often they have actually been sold the idea that people who live the lifestyle they want to have use that product, and if they use the product as well then they will have a part of that lifestyle. I would factor in marketing as an agent of change, and really like that diffusion of innovations accommodates this.