Software companies typically have to convince prospects to adopt new technologies based on their shared history, their service track record, and their ability to accurately predict and deliver real results that overcome the cost and friction of adopting new tools and methodologies. There are a number of lessons we draw on to help startups fostering technology adoption to attract their first paying customers.
Fostering Technology Adoption: Early Customers & Early Revenue
A lesson we can draw from the networking industry is that competitors must cooperate to create a market. Everyone who developed their own proprietary protocols lost: no one else could connect to them and customers were leery of an investment in a closed system.
A lesson from open source community is that you are not a leader if you cannot get people to follow you. There are tens of thousands of open source projects, with new ones added every day, but the successful ones get people to contribute.
Social media tools like blogs, wiki, podcast offer this lesson. Below a certain team size, it’s all a social process not a workflow.
The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) model reminds us that elegant plans lose out to ugly working code based on rough consensus. In the words of Dave Clark in “A Cloudy Crystal Ball: Visions of the Future” (see IETF Proceedings July 1992)
We reject: kings, presidents and voting
We believe in: rough consensus and running code.
Two lessons from the success of Software as a Service (SaaS) offerings are to focus on the under-served segments and provide the whole solution.
Gaming industry and SaaS remind us that people have to like using your product. IT has largely forgotten this and tends to rely on mandated usage.
Early adoption continues to be one of the more challenging parts of every deployment. Understanding the various options for deployment of a new technology and their affect on adoption by organizations is critical for startups.