A Crash Course in Adopting New Technology—It’s All About The Bandwagon

Topic: Business Strategy, Off the Wall
Publication: Journal of Management
Article: Closing the Technology Adoption–Use Divide: The Role of Contiguous User Bandwagon
Authors: G. Lanzolla & F. F. Suarez
Reviewed By: Katie Bachman

Did you ever buy something that was really expensive, but you could sort of justify the purchase because you were so sure you’d use it every single day and it would save you time and money? Come on, we all have. But, did your purchase end up sitting on a shelf somewhere? Well, if it was some new, cool technology for your organization that you purchased, then chances are actually pretty good that it did. A ridiculously large portion of new technology adopted by organizations never gets used by the employees. But, why? Here’s where I am going to totally rock your world—just because you invest in a new piece of technology, doesn’t mean you’ll use it.

Let’s take a step back and I’ll explain why buying and using are not always related. It starts with those people in the organization who buy and those who use—adopters and users, respectively. The adopters, usually the upper-level management in an organization or those in charge of putting new policies or technologies in place, are drawn to new technology because of hype in the press, word of mouth, or mimicking their competitors’ behaviors. The users, on the other hand, are not taken in so easily. They want to know that a new technology is going to work before they spend time using it. So what makes them want to use a new technology? Apparently, users are more likely to implement a new technology quickly when they see the value in it based on other users’ success. This is what we call the contiguous user bandwagon. They hop on the bandwagon when they see a technology has worked for others in their similar situation.

What do you do to match the adopters and users so that your technology rolls out quickly? Pay attention to the bandwagon, not the advertising. Getting buy-in from the people who will actually use your technology is the only way to make sure that it is implemented quickly.

Lanzolla, G., & Suarez, F. F. (2012). Closing the technology adoption–use divide: The role of the contiguous user bandwagon. Journal of Management, 38, 836-859. doi: 10.1177/0149206310369938.

human resource management, organizational industrial psychology, organizational management

 

 

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