Steering Innovation: How Early Adopters Propel New Products & Services to Success

Steering Innovation: How Early Adopters Propel New Products & Services to Success

Doing something new and innovative is hard. It’s meant to be. If it were easy, it would have been done.

Implementing lasting innovation is the aim of the game. To get there, it’s helpful to unpack the elements of innovation adoption so that you can use them to your advantage.

I’ve put together some thoughts on this and reflected on how we implemented innovation in the water sector.

Find Your 'Why'

“There are no shortcuts to any place worth going.” – Beverley Sills

Innovation, R&D, and change management is challenging. Increasingly so with the number of people that become involved in the innovative change. It helps immensely for everyone involved to understand ‘why’ the change needs to be made in the first place. It has to be something that resonates beneficially, deeply and authentically. This part is important. When the going gets tough (which it will!), there needs to be a commonly understood anchor that people can go back to that will overcome the inevitable resistance.

At VAPAR, we believe data driven decision making, operational efficiency and collaboration is the only way to unlock the funding needed to future proof our assets for the next generation. 

Find Your Early Adopters

The adoption curve, often represented by the bell-shaped curve, illustrates the process through which a new product or innovation is embraced by a population over time. It is divided into distinct segments: innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority, and laggards

Innovators and early adopters are the first to embrace a new idea, technology, or product, followed by the early majority and late majority as the concept gains broader acceptance. Laggards, resistant to change, are the last to adopt. This curve is a fundamental concept in innovation, guiding businesses in tailoring strategies to the different stages of adoption within a target audience. 

For the water industry, there are a number of innovation pathways that vendors can explore, such as some noted here by my co-founder, Michelle.

Adoption Curve Bell Shape

Working With Early Adopters

Engaging early adopters is pivotal for a startup’s success as these enthusiasts, often more tech-savvy and open to innovation, play a dual role as passionate advocates and valuable feedback generators. Their initial buy-in not only helps validate the product or service but also catalyses attracting broader market attention. Early adopters provide crucial insights, uncovering potential pain points, and contributing to iterative improvements, steering the product towards wider market acceptance. Moreover, their advocacy serves as a powerful marketing tool, creating a ripple effect that draws in the early majority and accelerates the product’s trajectory in the market, ultimately fostering sustained growth and market penetration.

At VAPAR, we were lucky to have worked through these innovation adoption processes with a number of organisations over the years. The value our customers get from our product today is a function of the years of invested time and money from our team and our early adopter customers.

To engage early adopters effectively, it is crucial to demonstrate a genuine willingness to adapt and evolve based on their valuable input. By actively listening to their feedback and incorporating their suggestions, you not only acknowledge the significance of their role but also foster a deep sense of trust and collaboration. This collaborative approach creates a dynamic relationship where early adopters feel heard and appreciated, contributing to a shared sense of co-creation.

Early Adopters

As a result, the product or service becomes a joint venture between the innovator and the early adopters, solidifying a partnership that goes beyond a transactional exchange. This adaptability not only enhances the product’s features and functionalities but also cultivates a community that is deeply invested in the success and evolution of the offering.

Early Adopter Traits

  • Put their money where their mouth is: They seek out new technologies, actively participate in beta programs, or are quick to adopt innovations in the market.
  • Engage in forums and communities: They explore niche communities and forums related to your industry where early adopters often congregate. Engage in discussions, observe who is at the forefront of trying new products or services, and pay attention to those who influence others in the community.
  • Provide detailed feedback: They provide detailed insights and express enthusiasm for cutting-edge features. Early adopters often vocalise their experiences, making them valuable sources of information for identifying individuals or groups willing to explore innovative solutions.

Conclusion

Embarking on the journey of innovation is an exciting yet complex path, and early adopters are the co-pilots helping steer towards success. There are many examples where we have benefitted from investing in relationships with early adopters, and both sides have benefitted. It’s about forging a partnership where their insights are actively utilised to shape and enhance whatever offering you are bringing to market, ensuring it not only resonates with subsequent adopters but also stands the test of time in the market.

 

About the Author


As VAPAR’s CEO, Amanda co-founded the company with a vision to bring emerging technology into the Asset Management space and revolutionise the way infrastructure is tracked, repaired, and maintained.

VAPAR’s software offers a paradigm shift in pipe inspections. With an emphasis on AI-driven analyses, it ensures that the data received is extensive and insightful, making inspections strategic initiatives.

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