Adoption of New Technology – Why do Companies Hesitate and What do they Stand to Lose?

A few weeks ago, we published a link to an article that had discussed a report created by Harvard Business Review and which had researched how companies and businesses take to new technologies. We found many visitors to our social media pages had shown interest in the article and therefore felt a need to visit the original research published by Harvard Business Review. Many interesting new points of view emerged.

Look at your culture – To begin with, research shows that the main reason why companies are shy to adopt new technologies has more to do with their culture than with their cash reserves. Many companies can be said to have a legacy culture that limits their capability and desire to absorb new technologies. Therefore any CTOs seeking to transform their companies must address cultural issues first. The cultural problem exists in the developed world as well with more businesses tending to be followers rather than pioneers. Data for Australia, unfortunately, was not provided separately by HBR.

Very understandably, the companies that are pioneering the use of new technology are pioneering in other fields as well. They are 10% more likely to have launched a new product and to have expanded into new markets. The lesson is very clear. While technology alone does not make businesses more efficient, it certainly helps.

A global market is forcing technology adoption – The study brings out another interesting issue. Most changes in companies are being brought about by customers who have over the last two decades or so have access to a global market. A customer can purchase from just about anywhere in the world if she so desires. Global supply chain and banking systems have become so convenient to use that many people would not hesitate to buy what they need from someone they have not met and will never speak to. If your customer is spoilt for choice, you have no option but to ensure that you keep up with everyone else. This reality is also driving the adoption of technology. The HBR study points out that 72% respondents credit their adoption of new technology to improved responsiveness to their customers.

The iPhone Effect – If customers are getting demanding, companies are blaming it on a phenomenon called the iPhone effect! Customers are increasingly looking for goods and services that work as well as an iPhone does. There is simply no way businesses can guarantee this unless they break out of their cultural shackles and stay updated with the latest in technology.

While it is a given that adopting modern technology will change many aspects of how you do business, it is interesting how the benefits of adopting new technologies impact early adopters, followers and cautious companies.

The greatest value of a new technology is obtained by the early adopters as the area shaded green shows in the above graph. The graph of the ‘Cautious’ companies is particularly instructive. They miss the bus by being late adopters of new technology and eventually when they do start using ‘new’ technology, it makes no great change to their bottom-lines as their competitors have moved ahead.

Where do you stand in the technology adoption curve? Is the fear of the unknown haunting your company as well? Perhaps it is time to give us a call.

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