Key components to be considered as part of the technology acceptance process are the five distinct factors affecting the take up or “Diffusion of Innovations” as outlined by Rogers (1,2).
Rogers defined an innovation as “an idea, practice or object that is perceived as new by an individual or other unit of adoption”). As such, an innovation does not have to be a newly created idea or system, it just has to be anew process to the user reacting to and then implementing that innovation.
Rogers further defined diffusion as “the process by which an innovation is communicated through certain channels over time amongst the members of a social system ”.
These five factors are summarised in the bullet points below, with Rogers’s key beliefs highlighted in bold.
• Relative Advantage, defined by Rogers as “the degree to which an innovation is perceived as being better than the idea it supercedes”. Relative advantage can have many forms, such as increased profitability or social standing, which will affect the innovation’s adoption rate.
• Compatibility, defined by Rogers as “the degree to which an innovation is perceived as consistent with the existing values, past experiences and needs of potential adopters”. An innovation can be either compatible or incompatible with (i) social or cultural values, beliefs and norms (ii) previously introduced ideas and innovations and/or (iii) client’s current needs, and affect the take up of the innovation accordingly.
• Complexity, defined by Rogers as “the degree to which an innovation is perceived as relatively difficult to understand and use”. The more complex an innovation is perceived to be, the less it will be adopted.
• Trialability, defined by Rogers as “the degree to which an innovation can be experimented with on a limited basis”. An easily trialled innovation is expected to have a positive effect upon the eventual rate of adoption.
• Observability, defined by Rogers as “the degree to which the results of an innovation are visible to others”. An easily observable innovation is expected to have a positive effect upon the eventual rate of adoption.
Rogers proposed that these five five key elements in diffusion were fundamental to the diffusion of innovations into and within organisations, as they determine between 49 and 87 percent of the variation in the adoption of new products, and as such make a valuable checklist.
As always, the author notes the quotation of George Box that "all models are wrong but some are useful" (3).
(1) Diffusion of Innovations, Everett M. Rogers, published by Simon and Schuster, 2003