Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past couple of weeks, you’ve undoubtedly heard about the latest and greatest phenomenon from Apple – the iPad. Maybe you’re even one of the thousands who got their hands on the newest member of the Apple family earlier this month.

While I certainly pay attention and try to stay on top of the latest technology, I admit I’m never the first to purchase anything when it’s introduced. The main reason for this is that I’m what I like to call “frugal” (some may say that’s just a fancy word for “cheap”), and I like to see how the newest gizmo works in the real world before I jump onboard. By definition, this makes me part of the late majority – the folks willing to accept new technology, but who aren’t at the front line. But in our society, we need the people on the other end of the spectrum — the early adopters — the people that crave technology and simply can’t wait. The early adopters must have the newest technology right now – and
are willing to pay top dollar to be among the first people with the latest gadget. These people create demand. They’re the reason innovation exists.

Sure it’s easy to see innovation and the need for early adopters in the computer world, but it exists in every segment of business. A business that fails to innovate – whether in process or product – will fail to exist. But, sometimes, just like in the computer arena, that innovation requires early adopters to propel market acceptance. This reality became clearly evident during a meeting last week with a new client. The company is lucky enough to have an innovator on staff. Because of his ideas and the company’s ability to bring them to life, they have the opportunity to revolutionize several industries and applications with more than a new product and technology, but a new technique. The challenge the company is faced with is educating the market and reaching the early adopters who will then lead the rest of the market. It’s a challenge we’re up to!

But even more than driving market acceptance, early adopters are also the catalyst for continuing technological advancements. Most companies in tune with their customer base will take the feedback from the early adopters to modify and improve their products. It’s a constant evolution. Think back to the iPad and just how many bugs and simple design flaws will be found even in these first few weeks. Upon hearing these criticisms, you can guarantee the geniuses at Apple will soon unveil the “new and improved” version. So for now, we can all sit on the edge of our seats and wait for what’s next – not just from Apple, but also from innovators in every industry.

When approached with new technology or ideas, are you an early adopter, a laggard, or somewhere in between? Do you have a product or service to market that requires the early adopters? How have you targeted this group?

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