The Technology Adoption Curve: Your Adoption Might Be Better Than You Think - theEMPLOYEEapp

The Technology Adoption Curve: Your Adoption Might Be Better Than You Think

The Technology Adoption Curve: Your Adoption Might Be Better Than You Think

Last updated on February 2, 2023 at 06:23 pm

The Technology Adoption Curve is a widely used adoption curve and can be referenced when rolling out any digital tool. This model is especially useful when you’re trying to benchmark what your adoption rate of a new tool or channel should be over time. Because the reality is, you might never gain one hundred percent adoption or even ninety percent. But that might be hard to convey to leadership. That’s where this model comes in.

What is the Technology Adoption Curve?

technology adoption curve starts with innovators, then early adopters, early and late majority, and laggards

There are five stages in the curve. The first two are your Innovators and Early Adopters. They are who you could consider highly engaged employees. Whenever you suggest a new tool and ask who wants to participate, their hands go up. They don’t even need the rest of the details to be interested. They want new tech and aren’t as resistant to change. So, you can expect to hit a quick 15% growth in the first few months of launching your employee app.

But everyone else takes a little more time.

Your Early Majority consists of people that are still engaged and involved—they want to be part of the change at the company—but they are a little more resistant. They want to see it be successful before diving in. Usually, this comes in the form of their leader telling them about the technology, why it matters, why it’s working, and how they can benefit. This phase is when you start to take off. You can expect to get to about 50% adoption after proving the use-case to this group.

The Late Majority group is a bit trickier. They don’t get on board until the tool is more integrated into the company. Frankly, it’s basically a fear of missing out that gets them on board. They see others have success with it. Maybe they even start missing out on the great perks that come exclusively with the new tool. But sometimes they just need to be told you have to do this. But ultimately, they don’t want to be left behind, so you’ll likely win them over in time.

And finally is the Laggards. You may never get this 16% because they are resistant to change or disengaged. And, honestly, that’s okay. It’s the influencers within your company who are going to move the needle on culture, your benchmarks, and KPIs. So, don’t lose sleep over this last group!

data improving over time

Leveraging the Curve With Leadership

This curve is a great benchmark to take to leadership. When you report to them on how the new tool or channel launch is going, you can show them where you’re at and where you’d expect to be based on the Technology Adoption Curve. So, if they say, why are we only at 15% adoption after a month, you can explain the psychology behind it and that you’re actually on track.

Even after several months, it might be frustrating to be at that 50% mark. You might feel like you’ve hit a plateau. And your leadership team might be a bit worried.

But remember, 50% is a really strong place to be. It’s on track for how people adopt technology worldwide. And perhaps more importantly, the first 50% are the most important because they are highly engaged and more likely to be influential to their peers. 

If you measure what that 50% of the population is doing now that they have better access to the communication you’re putting out there and if you can tie it back to KPIs, you’re going to see change happening within your organization. You don’t need to get to 100% adoption to start making a huge impact.

mobile app communication

Adoption Best Practices

Of course, if you don’t have a rollout strategy and plan, it will be hard to gain adoption with any group. You have to communicate and focus on change management. Say you’re rolling out an employee app, how do you stay on track and hit these key milestones? We’ll go through a few dos and don’ts when crafting that strategy and tracking towards your adoption goals.

App Adoption Strategy Don’ts:

  • One and done communication. The “Spray and Pray” approach where you just put it out there for everyone and hope it catches on! 
  • Not considering training. Even for what seems like a super easy and intuitive tool, one reason for resistance and people lagging behind is a feeling like they don’t understand how the tool works and how to use it.
  • Sharing the “how” but not the “why.” Sharing download instructions is important, but you have to create the need for the tool to entice people to take that download step and then actually use it.

App Adoption Strategy Dos:

  • Include need-to-know information in the tool. If employees don’t need the app, they won’t use it (or they won’t use it often).
  • Communicate the WIIFM (What’s In It For Me?). Employees need to know why they’ll find value in the app, and focusing your messaging around this will drive a sense of urgency.
  • Make exclusive app content. FOMO is a shockingly effective tactic when rolling out a new channel. If there are fun contests, content, or discounts that are only available in the app, your adoption rates are likely to go up over time. 
  • Integrate downloading the app into an event. Examples: 
    • Virtual or in-person Town Halls where you share instructions and ask everyone to download
    • A roadshow where you go to each field location
    • All manager or employee conferences (if we ever get back to those!) where the new app is spotlighted and even incorporated into the event itself.
  • Find app champions. These are the people in the Innovators and Early Adopters category who are well-liked and respected. They often have influence. Get them onto the channel and ask them to help be employee advocates of the tool.

What’s Next?

Are you ready for a new communication channel that will help you reach your teams? We’re here to help. Get in touch today to learn more about theEMPLOYEEapp and our consultation services.


About the Author

Amy Jenkins is theEMPLOYEEapp’s Director of Client Strategy & Success. With over ten years of experience working in internal communication, Amy helps our clients create mobile communication strategies that get results.



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