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?
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