Innovations Diffusion Theory (IDT)

Firstly, let’s discuss about a basic theory that offers a conceptual framework for the Technology Adoption at a global level: the Innovations Diffusion Theory (IDT). I will discuss this theory with some examples of current facts/implementations.

This study was started in 1950s at the University of Chicago with funding from television producers who sought a way to measure the effectiveness of broadcast advertising.

The IDT studies how, why, and at what rate new ideas and technology spread through cultures. Not just in information technology exclusively, this theory applies to other diffusion processes through the society such as the acceptance of new technological product, food, music style, dressing style, ideals, political candidates, or services. According to Rogers (2003) “is the process by which an innovation is communicated through certain channels over time among the members of a social System.”

Roger through his IDT theory found that when an individual or unit face with a new innovation/product/technology/service, they will passes 5 steps before accept it:

(1) starting from knowledge: knowing its existence and how it functions. This is a basic requirement if you want your innovation accepted by your intended consumers. You have to make sure that consumer must be knowing that your innovation/product is there and they know the functions. It is why we found ADVERTISEMENT or PUBLICATION or PROMOTION about your product/service/technology is a must!

(2) forming an attitude toward the innovation (Persuasion)
This is the most crucial phase, it is a time when your innovation try “to persuade” the target user. It is the time when “the ball” is on your technology/service, whether your technology/service can or can not make a goal depends on your technology/service now.

(3) Next step is decision to adopt or to reject. It is the time when the “ball” has been passed to the target user and now the “ball” is on their hand to commit using your technology/service or reject it.

(4) put in use the innovation (implementation). It is time when the user decide to use and really use your technology/service.

(5) confirming the decision (confirmation). However, Roger found that people will always confirm their decision to use a technology/service even they have decided to use it, e.g. they make sure by discussing or social chatting with other users about their opinions/impressions to the technology/service.

The second very important suggestion in IDT is about How to make your innovation strongly persuade your target user to use it (in Persuasion phase)? :

Further Roger found that there are five characteristics of the technology/service that persuade the individual to adopt them:

a) Relative advantage (the extent to which it offers improvements over available tools, often measured in economic profitability but can be measured in other dimensions such as social).

So if you want to make your product/innovation powerfully to persuade your targeted user make it HAVE MORE ADVANTAGES for them! (depend on the characteristics needs of your target users

b) Compatibility (the degree to which the technology/service is perceived as consistent with the existing values, social practices, past experiences and users’ needs).

So if you want to make your product/innovation powerfully to persuade your targeted user make CONSISTENT with previous/common technology/services, norms/social values, user needs, etc. For example, just in my opinion, I reckon I don’t like the Microsoft Word 2007 just because the user interface is not consistent with previous versions; it is confusing and often frustrated!!!

c) Complexity (how it is relatively easy to understand and to use),

Make your product/innovation/service is as SIMPLE as possible! Simple to learn, simple to understand, and simple to use. For example provide the manual (online, add-on the software, printed).

d) Trialability (the possibility to try the technology/service before committing to use it).

It is why we often found there are many Beta Version (Trial version) of commercial software; besides for finding out the bugs, it is also very powerful to persuade target user. So give chance for your target user “to TASTE” your innovation!

e) Observability (the degree to which the results of the technology/service are visible to others).

Your technology/service will be more powerful to persuade your intended user when they can result “VISIBLE / TANGIBLE Outcome”! I know it not easy for some technologies/services.

Further, among these characteristic factors, Tornatzky and Klein (Dillon 1996) found that the compatibility, relative advantage, and complexity contribute the greatest influences on adoption: “Compatibility and relative advantage were positively related to innovation adoption (p<0.05), while complexity was negatively related to adoption at marginally significant (p<0.062)”.

Specifically in Information Systems context, Moore and Benbasat (1991 in Dillon 1996) examined these characteristics and generated eight factors that impact the adoption of IT: voluntariness of use, relative advantage, compatibility, image (“the degree to which use of an innovation is perceived to enhance one’s image or status in one’s social system”), ease of use, result demonstrability, visibility, and trialability. However, among current researches in IT adoption, there are three characteristics that consistently found as the important antecedents to the adoption of IT innovations: technical compatibility, technical complexity (easy of use), and relative advantage (perceived need) (Bradford and Florin, 2003; Crum et. al., 1996) as depicted in Figure 1.

Figure 1. The common characteristics of IT innovation that influence intended users to accept the system/technology (Source: Agarwal and Prasad 1998, Cooper and Zmud 1990, Crum et al 1996 in York University 2008)

Now, let’s ask to our technology/service:”It is EASY TO USE, ‘COMPATIBLE’ and GIVE MORE ADVANTAGES to our target users???”


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