Where do YOU fit?

When it comes to companies that buy software, and who doesn’t, we hear about a few different kinds of corporate personalities. These distinctions surround when a company jumps on the bandwagon of a new technology. The Pioneers, the Early Adopters, the Wary Majority, and the Also Ran Candidates shouldn’t be strangers (while the terms may be since I made up some of them). The problem is that many people in an organization may not know where their corporate culture lies, and the frustration of lagging behind the curve may cause dissention amongst the ranks. Let’s look at the groups.

The Pioneers are true visionaries. They recognize new technologies in their infancy. These companies typically purchase based on the potential of the technology and on their gut feel of the vendor. Once they buy-in, these companies thrive on driving the new technology, working closely with the vendor to help determine the future direction of the product. Pioneers log tons of enhancement requests, typically with great ideas, rather than minor tweaks and features in competing products. Quite often, there are no competing products. These companies recognize the idea of Return On Investment and the fact that if they get the return in nine months, they can dump the software in month ten and still have made money on the investment. Many people don’t realize these Pioneers exist, they don’t hear about technologies until they are toddlers, already crawling and learning to walk.

The Early Adopters are those that jump on once a new product hits the market. These products typically have a handful of success stories (the Pioneers) and the Early Adopters buy-in based on these stories and the future that they see in the product. These companies are somewhat visionary as well, since the products that they buy are not mature yet. Early Adopters typically log a good number of enhancement requests as well, but these are mostly for ease-of-use, user interface, and to meet functionality that exists in the few competing products out there. Early Adopters spend a bit more time in the sales process, checking references and watching demos.

The Wary Majority are those that never load a dot-zero release. They never buy a product until it proves to be the market leader. They get the Release 7 or later product because they see a lot of their competitors and vendors using the product. They hear about the product from Word-Of-Mouth or from magazine ads and reviews. The Wary Majority are typically driven by a manager that is afraid to replace the current system because that would be admitting that their decision to choose that product was wrong. (The reality is that it has already served its purpose and paid for itself, like the Pioneers understand.) The Wary Majority spend a long time deliberating in the sales process, demanding custom demos and comparing checklists of functionality between all of the competitors. At home, these people spend weeks deciding on a VCR to buy and months buying a car.

The last group, the Also Ran Candidates, buy new technology because they have to. They are forced to buy a program in order to meet demands of their vendors or customers, and they go kicking and screaming. These companies would rather complain than log even the occasional enhancement request. These are the companies that refuse to buy maintenance or subscription plans, only upgrade when they have to, and will skip training to save a few bucks.

The interesting thing is that this classification is as much a personal thing as it is a company trait. Every person has their own level of risk-tolerance and those that have some Early Adopter in them will bug the boss to look at a new tool. The problem is that demos are free, and people love to make vendors and resellers jump through hoops for fun and amusement. This puts a glimmer of hope in your eye when, in reality, you have no chance of pushing this past the people that hold the purse strings.

To save yourself the heartache, look at your company through this simple test:

1)        When did you switch to 3D MCAD?
a.        After AutoCAD threw it’s hat into the ring
b.        Once the “Mid-Range” was established
c.        When Pro/ENGINEER was still just Amateur/ENGINEER.
d.        What’s 3D?

2)        Who signs the checks at your organization?
a.        The CFO that demands a dress code of 3-piece suits
b.        The VP of Engineering, if the cost is under $XX,000
c.        Anyone that can prove value
d.        Anyone that can pry the checkbook out of the owner’s cold, dead hands

3)        In how many ROI months must an investment pay for itself for management to buy-in?
a.        9
b.        12
c.        None, we go by gut feel
d.        None, Roi is the Canadian guy we get our hydraulics from

OK, give yourself one point for each A, two points for each B, three points for each C and zip for each D.

9-8 = Pioneer
7-5 = Early Adopter
4-2 = Wary Majority
1-0 = Also Ran Candidate

How did you do? Email me your score at Email Contact, I would love to take an informal survey!

By Paul Gimbel

Review Article
  • Re: Where do YOU fit? January 12, 2006
    Reviewed by 'boogeyman'
    iconnian, I hear you. There pops up the interop issue again. If I had a dime for every time I hear the interop reason ... well you get the picture. The fact is interop is NOT the show-stopper that the Wary group often cites as a reason for not switching. Interop and legacy data are purely business issues and can be easily managed with some creativity. If the software you are switching to can make a real difference to your product development schedule, legacy data should NOT even be considered a factor. For all the blustery talk, most companies do not need to migrate all their data to the new system. They only have to convert just what they need, when they need it. With low-cost resources aplenty, this NON-CORE work must be shipped out and you must get on with figuring out how to use the new software to make your product development nimble. Alas, this needs cojones.

      One person of 2 found this review helpful.

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  • 'Where do YOU fit?' January 04, 2006
    Reviewed by 'Tom L'
    Excellent Article Paul.

    This breakdown really shows how the USA will ultimately will loose its "Super Power" status to China and Europe if it hasn't already.

    See, both China sn European companies realize that in order to progress financially and competitively you MUST BE a Pioneer or at the very least an Early Adopter. Whereas the majority of US companies are Wary Majority, Also Ran Candidates, and I f a may had the Sheep (just follow others leads redardless of their own needs).

    SO you can rant about how China is talking all the jobs away etc.. but before you put all the blame on China, you better you at your companies "status" first. This will give you a great insight why more engineers are on the unemployment line and not the golf course.

    Tom L

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  • not so fast January 10, 2006
    Reviewed by 'icconian'
    You overlook another compelling reason behind software use & acquisition of new software, corporate personality notwithstanding: legacy data and interoperability. No matter how much one desires to be the Pioneer or Early Adopter, some choices must be made based on what you need to bring along. It has nothing to do with "admitting that their decision to choose that product was wrong", as you claim for the Wary Majority. I can't see anyone with legacy data getting anywhere near ROI in month ten & dumping the software. What's your IT time's impact on ROI then? It's not always worth the fight of being first when you end up having to be not only the beta testers but the alpha testers of the software while still trying to get work done. Many have decided that it's a much less traumatic transition to wait for a couple of releases before joining in. Yes, we need the Pioneers and Early Adopters, but they won't & can't always be the same people/companies all the time. Some get burned, or burned out, and gladly join the ranks of Wary Majority or Late Comers.

      3 of 5 found this review helpful.
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