Innovators to Laggards: Where Do You Fall on the Technology Adoption Curve?

(An earlier version of this post appeared in SMART’s Next Level Collaboration blog.)

Occasionally, I come to grips with the fact that I’m in my mid-forties… especially when I look at how far technology has come since I was a child. Every once in a while, something comes up with my kids, and it makes me feel old. We’ve discussed ColecoVision, boom boxes, CDs, the Walkman — and let’s not forget the Discman. These were all cutting-edge technologies when I was my kids’ ages.

From an adoption perspective, I’d label myself in the early majority, which is probably indicative of my technology adoption for the past 30+ years. As I look ahead, I wonder, what’s next to be digitized, and what will the adoption life-cycle on the  technology adoption curve look like for the newest innovative technologies?

 Roger’s bell curve

DiffusionOfInnovation

There are certainly a number of analog holdouts in our mostly digital world: paper, pens, paperclips, and other office staples. And sure, there are some things that don’t need a digital upgrade. I don’t know that I want to live in a world where my belt is connected to the Internet and loosens automatically based on what I’ve eaten. But when it comes to where and how I work, there are certainly plenty of areas of improvement. The one that comes most obviously to mind? The whiteboard, of course.

Interactive whiteboards have been around for almost 20 years, but it’s only recently that the digital version became just as easy and intuitive to use as the traditional whiteboard. Simplicity, a naturally intuitive interface, and of course affordability, all help drive rapid adoption.

And that’s the thing about rapid adoption: when technology works and acts exactly as we expect it to, we become comfortable with the new and improved digital versions. We already know how to use them – and so we do. In droves.

When something newer and better and just as easy (or easier) to use comes along, we quickly forget the days of yore. Gone are the landlines, cordless phones (I can’t remember the last time I saw a rotary phone), record players and mainframe computers. Soon, the stale, passive whiteboard will only be seen in history books and museums, too. Maybe one day it, too, will become a collector’s item — I can’t imagine it, but maybe it’ll be the must-have retro treasure of every late 21st century hipster.

When I was in school, chalkboards were in use until the day they were replaced by whiteboards. But in schools, businesses, and our homes, digitization is the direction we are moving. In many ways, it blows my mind that the whiteboard was such a latecomer to the modern world. It’s time has come, though. How much longer until the desktop PC and laptop computer are things of the past? Not fast enough for some of us… what do you think?