>Diffusion of Innovation Theory and Enterprise Architecture

>According to Everett Rogers’ Diffusion of Innovations (DOI) Theory, adopters of any new innovation or idea can be categorized based on the bell curve, as follows:

  • Innovators (2.5%) — most likely to conceive and develop new methodologies and technologies; the most daring and especially prone to taking risks
  • Early Adopters (13.5%) — a person who embraces new technology before most other people do.
  • Early majority (34%)
  • Late majority (34%)
  • Laggards (Luddites) (16%) — slow or reluctant to embrace new technology; actively fear or loathe new technology, especially those they believe threaten existing jobs.

Each adopter’s willingness and ability to adopt an innovation would depend on their awareness, interest, evaluation, trial, and adoption. People could fall into different categories for different innovations — a farmer might be an early adopter of hybrid corn, but a late majority adopter of VCRs.

When graphed, the rate of adoption formed what came to typify the DOI model, an “s shaped curve.” (S curve) The graph essentially shows a cumulative percentage of adopters over time – slow at the start, more rapid as adoption increases, then leveling off until only a small percentage of laggards have not adopted. (Rogers Diffusion Of Innovations 1983)

From a User-centric EA perspective, each of these user roles is important and needs to be considered in providing useful and useable information products and governance services to them.

On one hand, for the innovators and early adopters, User-centric EA encourages innovation and creativity, but also works to mitigate risk though business and technical alignment and architectural assessment related to sound capital planning & investment control.

On the other hand, for the laggards, User-centric EA set targets for technology adoption and phases in new technology and process according to a transition plan. While EA cannot “make” people less hateful of new technology, it can create a more controlled environment for change management in the enterprise, one which reduces the fear factor. Additionally, by EA demonstrating the benefits to the organization and the individuals therein of new technologies aligned to the mission and strategy of the organization, perhaps those who fear the technology will come around to embrace it.

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