I'm starting to get my blog back on again. I thought I would put my toe back in the pond by re-posting this item that I wrote a few years ago for Eat Your CAD (www.eatyourcad.com). While the example is geared towards implementation of new technologies in an environment, it can be applied to almost any process where a different process is introduced and must be presented/sold to the staff.
In a previous life, I was a Reseller. As such, we were the vendor’s local sales and implementation arms. We had no problem getting selling base tools and introduction training classes.
Beyond that, it got difficult. How can you show a firm how important it is to buy into new technologies and stay competitive in a changing world? How can you prove that these new technologies provide value? How do calculate soft-cost dollars lost by staying where you are and not moving ahead? More importantly, how do you determine how the people you are talking / marketing to perceive new technology, and its implementation within their firm?
In 1991, a gentleman named Geoffrey Moore came out with one of the answers, and it was called "Crossing the Chasm". "Crossing The Chasm" became the bible for bringing cutting-edge technologies into large markets.
WAIT A MINUTE?!?!
Now before we go any further, you may be asking yourself, “What does this have to do with Process Improvement and Technology Management?” EVERYTHING! You, as a technology leader and Agent of Change in your company, must understand how to ‘sell’ new philosophies, technologies and workflows every single day, whether it’s a new toolset in an old solution (to an entire new way of doing business (like using a Building Information Modeling workflow). Even professional development has to be “sold” to management. Understanding HOW your “market” (i.e. your office leaders, your users, etc) reacts and wants to implement technology can help you bring new ways of doing business into your life.
Let’s start by defining something called “Technology Adoption Life Cycle”
The cycle is separated into five groups, each group presenting a set of people/users/buyers to whom a product is sold during its life cycle: Innovators, Early Adopters, Early Majority, Late Majority, and Laggards.
Innovators are technology enthusiasts. These are the people at your office who live, breathe, eat, and sleep “the latest and greatest”. They probably have LINUX boxes at home, have had home media centers before they were cool, and are working on getting Google Glass. They are always on board to try anything new, and they represent the smallest part of our cycle.
Early Adopters, also known as visionaries, are somewhat happy to try out new technologies. They represent a larger slice of the market. They aren’t necessarily technically-minded, but understand the value that technology brings. In most cases, they are the person who empowers the Innovator.
The Early Majority, sometimes called pragmatists, represent the large part of the market. They “keep up with the Jones” and only after they have witnessed outside successes and ensure there is a safety net in place, just in case. Securing the pragmatist, Moore states, is the most important marketing challenge.
The Late Majority, or conservatives, are also a very large portion of the market. They are extremely cautious. Unlike the Pragmatist, they want internal proof before they will accept a product's usefulness.
Laggards are skeptics who would prefer to avoid new technologies altogether. They will buy only if they really must. They are the ‘kicking and screaming” folks who say “We’ve always done it this way, why change?” (I use the term "historical inertia")
When new products are released, they follow a buying / adoption trend called the Technology Adoption Life Cycle.
From left to right, you can see how the Innovators and Early Adopters are a small part of the cycle, getting on board very early in the cycle, with the Majority holding the biggest part, and the laggards to the end of the cycle.
Moore changes the graph slightly.
Moore teaches that the break that divides the Early Adopters from the Early Majority is actually a chasm. This chasm is significant enough to warrant a full-scale effort to pass a product across. He argues that many software vendors get so caught up in early market success that they don't anticipate the chasm, and their products then fail owing to an inability to traverse the gap.
Let’s look at this graph a little differently
The Skeptics on the right have the least to gain, as they are waiting for the “latest” to become “tried and true”. They get on board at the very end. However, the least value is on the right, because the cycle then starts over.
Here’s where the ‘Chasm” challenge comes into play: the Early Majority want good references before getting into a new technology, but Early Adopters may not necessarily make good references. They talk about horror stories and wasted effort, lessons learned...but in most cases, Early Adopters have all concluded that it was the right road to take, and they would take it again.
Cross the Chasm – How?
Moore defines a four step approach to this. He calls entering this market “an act of aggression.” He cites Eisenhower’s assault on Normandy as the way to Cross the Chasm. He calls it “The D-Day approach” -
• Target the point of attack
• Assemble the invasion force
• Define the battle
• Launch the invasion
• Assemble the invasion force
• Define the battle
• Launch the invasion
Target the Point of Attack
For an Agent of Change in an office or a firm, targeting the point of attack means to understand the people in your office. Find out and rate each person's compelling reason to implement a new technology, based on what Moore calls a "must-have value proposition." The key to winning is to provide a solution that the pragmatist truly feels they need. This is why rating your folks is crucial. Once rated, you can prioritize what technology (or training, or whatever you want to implement) should come first.
Assemble the Invasion Force
Getting the "force" in place means that you need to show your office leaders "the whole product"…not just the tool set, but whole gamut, including supporting services, training, administration, vendor services (if needed), and possibly other tool sets that plug into what you are trying to get accomplished ("If we get 'A', we can also use data from 'B' "). Keep is simple, and have everything in place. Also, your "force" may include your competition, but friendly competition. Don't use the "keep up the Jones" theory, as we are going on value, but you can use your contacts in the industry to help you assemble information, success stories, lessons-learned case studies, etc.
Define the Battle
Moore believes that the key to defining the battle is to create the competition. As weird as this sounds, Moore takes this view from the pragmatist and believes that the pragmatist is more interested in how a product is positioned amongst other competitors. For an Agent of Change, this could mean showing a variety of different toolsets that could met your need. In a workflow situation, your competitor could be the "old way of doing things." In training, your competition may be Billable Time.
Don't exclude a reasonable competitor....this could blow up in your face, and alienate the pragmatist. Remember, he's looking at all things.
Launch the Invasion
In Moore's cases, he describes Launching the Invasion as obtaining access to a distribution channel that will attract the pragmatist, as well as pricing models. Moore also discusses Leadership Pricing, whereby you show value no matter where the competition is pricing their toolset.
In this case, I believe one has to Launch the Invasion based on ROI...or more commonly, So What? What's in it for the firm? Pricing is important, and you need to include not just software, training and implementation costs, but opportunity/billable time costs. The real "pricing" for you can come from what benefits the pragmatist will receive by going this direction (no matter what you are marketing), and providing those benefits in both tangible and non-tangible format. Tangible meaning dollars to the firm, non-tangible meaning good will to the firm.
So what does this all mean?
Well, here are a few things to take from all of this:
- Learn the personalities of the people of your firm, and how the implementation of technology relates to them
- Learn what drives the decision makers
- If you want to really get high ROI from a new technology, get on the left hand side of the Chasm
- If you have pragmatists in your firm, D-Day them!
If you are looking for Geoffrey Moore’s book, Google “Crossing the Chasm” or go to this Link to Amazon for the book.
In a different post, we’ll go into Moore’s second book entitled “Inside the Tornado”. Basically, if you’ve crossed the chasm, what happens if the crossing becomes wildly successful, and how do you handle the onslaught? I’ll do my best to try to take the sales stuff out and put it into context for us.
Until next time….