Confessions of an early adopter
Maryann Johnson 27000756CA firstname.lastname@example.org | | Tags:  socbiz innovation technology social-business roi early-adopter
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Maryann Johnson, Executive Consultant, Business Value Assessment, Web Experience Software, Social Business, IBM
I’m at it again. I’m adopting new technology. This process isn’t new to me. It’s something I’ve been doing for more decades than I care to admit.
There have been many times when I rushed to be at the forefront of bleeding-edge technology – a term that was formed from "leading edge" and “cutting edge” so that it more accurately captures the risk of "cutting until bleeding" when using unproven technology. So, I admit it. I’ve done my share of bleeding.
Don’t get me wrong. For the most part, my early adopter experiences have served me well. In fact, I remember my first day as a bank employee when I was working my way through college. The people who trained me had been doing the same things the same way for 20 years or more. It just so happened that my first day on the job was also the first day when a new pallet of computer hardware arrived. My trainer said to the delivery man, “Oh. New technology. Teach it to her. She’s the new girl.”
After that, learning new technology became my raison d'être. I made myself essential to the bank by being the first to learn new things and then serving as the first line of support for training others.
I loved being the visionary who was always on the cusp of innovation. I was eager to try new things and to share my experiences with others. I loved climbing the slope of enlightenment well ahead of my colleagues and being able to lead them onto the plateau of productivity.
Nowadays, innovations occur so rapidly, that I find myself being more selective about the solutions that I adopt. I make more decisions about whether to take chances on promising but unproven technologies.
Over the years, I’ve developed a safety net – a set of colleagues who happen to be experts on a variety of topics. Experience has taught me that I sometimes need to learn things myself. However, at other times, I simply need to rely on my pals who are willing to share their knowledge.
How do I decide whether I need to learn everything there is to know about a topic? It’s as if I’m performing a cost / benefit analysis on my time. Ideally, I’ll achieve a good Return on Investment (ROI) for the learning curve instead of wishing that I could reclaim several hours of my life.
Throughout the adoption process, I pay attention to perceived usefulness and perceived ease of use. That is, I decide whether I think a particular system will make my life better or, perhaps, whether it will make my work more efficient. If so, I take the plunge.
It reminds me of the TV commercial several years ago where Jeff Goldblum said, “It seems like there’s a big party going on. Everybody says, ‘What’s your email address? I’ll email you.’ But I don’t have email.” Goldblum felt left out.
It highlighted the fact that people’s behaviors are influenced by their peers and by how widespread a particular technology happens to be. No one wants to be left out. No one wants to be called a laggard. Heck, I don’t even want to be part of the late majority. And I definitely don’t want to hear myself say, “Oh. New technology. Teach it to her. She’s the new girl.”