Geoffrey Moore’s analogy of “crossing the chasm” is used a lot in information technology. Basically, the premise is that any new technology is quickly adopted by innovators and early adopters, but there is a chasm to cross in order to get the more pragmatic majority to adopt the new technology. For marketing, this is the real challenge – can the new product get widespread acceptance? In many cases (but not all) the development costs can only be recovered if the majority purchase the goods or services.
I previously referred to this model and tried to tie it to Gladwell’s “tipping point” theory. Much of my consulting work is in bridging the chasm
- I attempt to be an early adopter myself, and use this experience to work with the early pragmatic majority. I also use a broader definition of technology; being the application of organized and scientific knowledge to solve practical problems. I spend much of my time watching the innovators, and
- try to determine which of their ideas and new technologies would make sense for my clients. To do this, I have to keep trying out new tools and processes in my own work.
- It’s a real balancing act, trying to be on the leading edge but not the bleeding edge.
Some of the technologies that I believe are ready to cross the chasm in the next year  are:
- Blogs (with some difficulties) & RSS
- Workflow Learning (including wider acceptance of performance support instead of training)
- Open Source
… as well as some that probably won’t get across, yet:
Update March 2006: It’s seems that the use of blogs has exploded, with Technorati’s current count at 29 million. Workflow learning has stalled a bit, while the value of informal learning is catching on. Wikis are also becoming more popular, especially those that replicate word processesors, like Writely. There also seems to be a growing interest in natural enterprises and something to replace corporatism as a guiding model, so I am more optimistic than last year.
[Picture based on Wikipedia entry.]