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Post Date:  March 5, 2018
Post Title:  Can Past Research Guide Future Success?

A rich reservoir of knowledge

Since the Second Industrial Revolution, innovation adoption has been the subject of research by various academicians across a wide range of disciplines.

Thanks to these researchers, a rich reservoir of academic journals, books, and white papers is available to us today. Over the years, several frameworks and models have been developed to help predict and measure the in-market results of new products, services, and policies.

Entrepreneurs, innovators, marketers, investors, and policymakers can refer to these studies and frameworks to learn about the various elements that impact the rate of adoption for their products, services, and creations.

The most well-known of these theories popularized by Everett M. Rogers, explains the process of social and behavioral change achieved over time by informing people about innovations using specific communication channels.

In his seminal book, Diffusion of Innovations, Rogers highlights the various factors that influence the rate of adoption by focusing on the sociological aspects of diffusion. Other theoreticians have studied this phenomenon through the lens of economics, communications, or systems engineering design.

Despite all the research and knowledge available to us, many innovations fail to succeed.

A foundation rather than a blueprint

When it comes to planning and introducing a new product or device into the market, perhaps the existing diffusion frameworks should be regarded more as foundations rather than de facto blueprints for guiding decisions and actions.

To begin with, most of these studies were conducted in the Western developed markets. Consequently, case studies reflecting emerging markets or regions that are culturally, socially, and normatively different from the West are few and far between.

Aside from regional, cultural, and economic nuances that need to be factored into existing diffusion models, there is also the consideration of social and behavioral shifts as well as infrastructure changes that occur over time.

Many of the diffusion models that are currently in use were developed during the pre-Internet, pre-Smartphone and pre-Social Media era.

It may be time to start re-examining some of the past thinking by providing a fresh perspective and new input that could help update or complement existing business frameworks.

Futurist Alvin Toffler, the author of such prophetic works as Future Shock and The Third Wave, said: “the illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn.” Perhaps it is time for us to unlearn what we know about the diffusion of innovation and adoption and relearn new perspectives.

[End of part 8 of 8]


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