This article was originally published on Digital-Adoption.com

The technology adoption curve is a useful model that can help businesses understand technology adoption in societies – but it can also help product developers boost user growth.

In this article, we’ll learn more about this model, including:


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  • What the technology adoption curve is
  • How it is used to understand this model to understand technology adoption across societies
  • How to apply this model within an individual business to boost customer growth

Let’s start by understanding the fundamentals of this model.

What Is the Technology Adoption Curve?

The technology adoption curve is a model that describes how technology spreads across societies and groups of people.

The model breaks society into five groups, based on how quickly they adopt new technology:

  • Innovators – The group that innovate new solutions
  • Early adopters – Those who are interested in new technology and willing to test new solutions, before they are accepted by the mainstream
  • Early majority – The first portion of the mainstream users that adopt the product, who tend to be more open to new ideas 
  • Late majority – The portion of mainstream users who are more conservative and slower to adopt new technology
  • Laggards – The last group of users, who are most conservative and slowest to adopt new technology

This model was originally developed in 1957, and described the spread of farming practices among farmers.

Since then, it has been applied to a variety of other areas. 

In recent years, it has been used to model the diffusion of other technologies, including digital technology.

There have also been a number of variations made to this model, which aim to offer more granular views of technological adoption.

In today’s continually changing business world, models such as these are extremely useful when it comes to digital transformation and digital adoption.

How to Use the Technology Adoption Curve to Improve User Adoption and Growth

As we have seen, the technology adoption curve is a useful way to describe the diffusion of innovative technology across society and large groups of people.

However, the same model can also be applied to specific audiences, such as a business’s customer base.

After all, the same general rules would apply within almost any audience, large or small.

Practically speaking, therefore, a product development company can use this model to:

  • Describe customer mindsets and adoption patterns. Applying this model to a customer base will allow businesses to segment those users into the same user groups: innovators, early adopters, later adopters, and laggards. 
  • Help forecast adoption patterns, product viability, revenue potential, and more. A detailed analysis of the customers, the product, and the state of the market can help organizations predict how that product will perform in the marketplace.
  • Design product training. When products are too far ahead of their users, adoption can be negatively impacted. Effective product training can close this gap and improve usability.
  • Improve onboarding programs. Good analyses of the user base can help product teams design onboarding programs that fit the various segments of their audience.
  • Inform the design of adoption programs. Ultimately, an effective analysis of the customer base and the product can help product teams create better adoption programs and improve user growth.

Of course, it is also possible to shrink the target user group even further and apply it, for instance, within one’s own organization.

Applying the model in this way would allow a business to inform in-house digital adoption programs.

How to Use the Technology Adoption Cycle to Inform In-House Digital Adoption Programs

Applied to internal digital adoption efforts, the technology adoption curve can be used to, for instance:

  • Identify innovators and early adopters within an organization. Innovative, early adopters are ideal super users and change advocates.
  • Allow those super users to train the majority of other users. These super users can act as leaders on the ground, helping to train the early and late majority, accelerate adoption efforts, and keep users in sync with the adoption programs.
  • Use digital adoption platforms (DAPs) to gain insight into user groups and improve the diffusion of technology. DAPs have software analytics that can offer insight into user behavior, helping to segment and understand employees, streamline adoption, and more.

The technology adoption curve clearly can clearly be useful in several circumstances, from digital adoption to customer growth.

However, the model presented in this article is only one variation of one underlying idea.

To gain a deeper understanding of that concept, professionals are encouraged to research the technology adoption cycle further.

Further Reading

There are a number of other models that can benefit product development companies, such as:

  • The Bass Diffusion Model, which describes how technology is adopted across populations
  • The lazy user model, which describes how individual users choose a solution
  • Gartner’s hype cycle, which describes how technology matures and is adopted within society
  • The technology acceptance model, which is another model that describes how users adopt new technology

Given the difficulty of designing and distributing new software, organizations should strongly consider using such models.

The effective use of these models can, after all, have a significant impact on user growth, product adoption, product design, and more.