Chalk Talk on Technology Adoption

A Chalk Talk on “Managing Risk In Technology Adoption” that covers some of key challenges technology providers have with getting companies to use their products.

Chalk Talk on Technology Adoption

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I did this with the DreamSimplicity folks. It’s a chart I have been drawing in various customer meetings for the last several years and they thought it would make for a good short video. The challenge was lighting the whiteboard appropriately.  I think it came out well.

I welcome any feedback or suggestions for other topics.  A transcript for the talk follows


I want to talk to you today about some of the challenges you may be facing with technology adoption.  With getting users to try and adopt your technology.  So in this chalk talk, I want to talk about how you get customers to try out your technology and use it.

Let’s assume that this is your prospect’s status quo.  And this way is the way they want to go.  This is more profitability.  This is more productivity.  General goodness.  With your solution,  you should be able to move them to a higher level of performance, higher level of profitability.  This difference is the benefit you’re promising.

So the question you’re really trying to figure out is, based on an analysis of where they are, is this where they’d like to be?  The most likely answer, optimistically, is yes.  In fact, “How do we get there? How do I get this into production?  How long it take?  What’s involved?”

So, one transition curve might look something like this.  Where they have to invest time, people time, focus, dollars.  And that takes away from their current status quo.  But that investment transforms the way they’re working to allow them to get to this higher level of performance.

However, when they look at this chart, when they hear this story from you, they make a couple of adjustments in terms of how they calculate this.  First of all, they assume that the costs are actually going to be higher, usually a little worse than you’re talking about.  Secondly, they assume that the benefits are not going to be as high.  So when they do a cost benefit calculation, they may come in at half or a third of what you’re promising them.  Your temptation is to attack this by adding more features, by doing more for them, by essentially promising them a higher level of benefit.  Say, “Well, what if we could do this for you?”  Right?

The problem with that is that your transition now looks like this.   There’s actually more cost involved. A bigger problem with this is that the time to get back to status quo has now been lengthened.  And as long they’re below this line they’ve made themselves worse off.  They put themselves at risk.  They put their careers at risk in larger companies.  This is a proxy for the amount of risk in decision to work with you.  And so what you’ve done is, you may not have substantially affected the cost benefit ratio but, you clearly added to the risk.  If Plan A was not acceptable, this new plan is probably less acceptable.

So let’s take another approach.  Let’s look at a different way to solve this problem.

So here’s our old friend, the prospect’s status quo.  They’re still trying to go up.  Still trying to get to this benefit that you promised them.  And here was the plan that you proposed.  Instead, break it up into phases.  Now, we’ve got smaller amount of cost.  They can look at this first transition and maybe this is just what you can do for them in two hours.   Maybe you can come in, take some data that’s readily available, and demonstrate a benefit.  Now they can judge the total curve by what you are able to do in a smaller amount of time.  Maybe this is a pilot project, maybe this is more than two hours, but this is not a bad approach.

Now, all they’ve got to bet is a small amount of risk.  See if they get somewhere near where you promised them.  If that works, they’ll likely take step two and step three.   So you’ve got an easy way to get them to move up and, they are more likely to take the first step.  Once they take the first step, if what you’ve told them is true, they’re more likely to move up.  So think about breaking up transition plans into three to five phases.

So we’ve talked a little bit today about how do you look at the technology adoption problem.   This is where we spend most of our time with clients.  We help them find early customers and early revenue.

This has been Sean Murphy from SKMurphy.  Thank you very much.

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