More important than the inventor, the first company to market, or even the technology itself, is adoption of the technology. Whether a technology is adopted early or late can make or break not only the technology, inventor, company, or entire industry, but also an entire economy.

“A nation’s ability to adopt new technologies is paramount, affecting everything from the cost of producing capital goods to per capita income,” according to a summary of Diego A. Comin and Bart Hobijn’s Harvard Business School paper “An Exploration of Technology Diffusion.”

Adoption—or more accurately, quick adoption—of “innovative steel making processes” in post-World-War-II Japan and the Internet in East Asia in the 1990s fueled rapid economic growth in these economies. According to the article, “Latin American countries, conversely, were relatively slow in their adoption of these same technologies, and saw a drop in per capita income over the same periods.”

Using this as an analogy, I would be Latin America. An analysis of my behavior would find a resistance to owning a cell phone while others were already making use of smartphones, and a consumer still collecting VHS tapes while others had moved on to DVDs. By the time I had adopted the DVD technology, others were already on to Blu-ray and streaming video. As a side note, you’ll be happy to know I am up to speed with the rest of the world, finally.

Granted, consumer behavior can be difficult to predict, but we try, and sometimes can. Adopters can be influenced by competition between technologies, competition between companies and their versions of a particular technology, or whether the consumer sees the necessity of the technology and has no choice but to get on board. The choice to adopt is always made, sooner or later. And again, sooner is always preferable.

The same is true of the tools we use in quality. Read “How Scalable is your Software?” and “Essential Testing for Essential Industries,” as well as everything else we have to offer in this month’s Quality.

Enjoy and thanks for reading!

Darryl Seland is the Editorial Director of Quality magazine.
He may be reached at [email protected].