Diffusion of innovation and the internet of things

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Diffusion of innovation and the internet of things

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During my days teaching introductory marketing I noticed a paradox among students. As a concept the product adoption curve (easier to remember than diffusion of innovations) was easy to grasp; yet, students seldom were able to apply its principles on exams and case studies. I concluded there was one reason.

Students had difficulty seeing situational marketing problems as a point in time, or snapshot, along an adoption curve.

When presented with a table of numbers showing revenue heading up, or down – or both – over a period of years, few of them could ever make the connection that what they might be viewing is the natural flow and ebb of the principles of diffusion of innovations in the marketplace.

Now, let’s switch to the internet of things (IoT). This is about as close to being “new” in a market as one can get.

In a recently completed study by Edelman Berland for GE, business executives worldwide were polled on IoT: have you heard of it? And, if so, are you planning for it, or prepared for it?

Here is what they found.

If you look at the bars, it’s fairly easy to predict which industries are likely to adopt first and fastest, and which will be playing follow the leader.

So what’s the big deal?

The big deal is this: not all buyers enter the market at the same time, nor do all competitors. Further, one person’s notion of value can be vastly different from another.

Microsoft was not first to market with an
operating system for computers (Apple alone beat it by 3 years). Excite, AltaVista, Infoseek and Yahoo! Dominated the
search engine market before Google was even conceived. And here, in Silicon Valley, Tesla Model S roadsters are a far more frequently seen
electric car than were the GM EV1s that predated them by 16 years.

Being first is not necessarily best. Figuring out how to be better usually is.

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Written by Michael

Michael Douglas has held senior positions in sales, marketing and general management since 1980, and spent 20 years at Sun Microsystems, most recently as VP, Global Marketing. His experience includes start-ups, mid-market and enterprises. He's currently VP Enterprise Go-to-Market for NVIDIA.

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