Tricky Technology Transitions

Does it seem that technology is evolving so quickly that it’s almost impossible to keep up? Yet, do you wonder why you are still using paper for your trade show leads? Perhaps you’d like to know when your organization will use iBeacons for your onsite events. Technology adoption can be a lengthy – and tricky - process.

“Adoption” relates to when a new technology or innovation is utilized. The first group to use a new technology is called "innovators," followed by "early adopters”, then the “early and late majority” and the last group to eventually adopt a product is called "laggards".

In March of this year, Harvard Business Review stated that it took 30 years for electricity and 25 years for telephones to reach 10% adoption, but less than five years for tablet devices to achieve 10%. It took an additional 39 years for telephones to reach 40% penetration and another 15 before they became ubiquitous. However, smart phones accomplished a 40% penetration rate in just 10 years.

Harvard Business Review also reported that a study by MIT Sloan Management Review and Capgemini Consulting found that the vast majority of managers believe that “achieving digital transformation is critical” to their organizations. But 63% said the pace of technological change in their workplaces is too slow, primarily due to a “lack of urgency” and poor communication about the strategic benefits of new tools.

Different industries adopt new technologies at different rates. Unsurprisingly, technology organizations are early adopters. For example, technology trade shows were the first to largely adopt lead technology, and it is uncommon to find many exhibitors doing manual lead follow-up at tech shows now.

Other industries, like the public (government) sector, can lag behind because they are cautious about being locked into an IT solution before they are sure of the long-term implications. According to Forbes, the oil & gas industry has historically relied upon rudimentary paper-based technology in general, and really had no need to think outside of the box because companies were too busy developing resources and making money, but that is slowly changing.

For more than a decade, security concerns about proprietary data and applications were among the most frequently cited and very legitimate reasons why the healthcare industry has been slow to adopt some technologies, especially the cloud. Yet today, the advent of medical technology has led to a new connection between doctors and patients. Someday, with your permission, your physician, dentist, optometrist, and all of your other doctors will be able to securely combine all of your records, so each will have access to them, which can help with diagnosis and treatment.

Electronic trading technology is increasing in popularity. In 2009, high-touch, voice-driven trading was still a common method of communication. Much like the healthcare industry, traders were wary of the cloud due to concerns about uptime and security, but that has changed. Connecticut-based research company Greenwich Associates reported that electronic trading rose to 74 percent of global volume in the foreign-exchange market in 2013, up from 71 percent the year before.

In the event marketing industry, one example of slow adoption is universal lead capture. The advantages of lead technology are well-known and include automated uploading and real-time distribution of leads, integration with CRM/MAT systems, consistency of lead data over multiple trade shows, and improvement in determining ROI. However, in June 2015, EXHIBITOR Magazine found that business cards and hand-written forms are still commonly utilized.

Source: EXHIBITOR Magazine, June, 2015

Sometimes exhibitors are in industries that are slow to adopt universal lead capture. Plus, some shows are very small, and don’t provide intelligent badges that are compatible with lead systems. For a long time, there wasn’t much exhibitors could do, but fortunately that’s changed. (For more about that, read my blog, How Technology Can Simplify and Automate Your Small Events.)

Of course, universal lead capture is just one of many technologies emerging in the event marketing industry and you’ve read about many of them in my blogs. Time will tell how soon they will be used by the majority of us. For many organizations, it’s a matter of creating a mindset open to technology and being able to evangelize its benefits, especially in relation to ROI.

Where would you put your organization in the technology adoption cycle? How can our industry improve adoption times? Do you think they need improving? Have you been able to affect change in your organization? I’m very interested in your thoughts, so please take a moment to comment below.