Bridging the Chasm


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

  1. 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
  2. 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.
  3. 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 [2005] are:

… 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.]

6 Responses to “Bridging the Chasm”

  1. Anonymous

    Sweet …
    … Graphic.

    There’s also Alan Akisson’s Diffusion Theory of Innovation, which is sililar but uses the analogy image of an amoeba beginning to move, sending out an early new arm to the new spot to which it wants to move.

    One of he things I like best of his model is that the Laggards’ name is "Renunciate Curmudgeons" 😉

    Jon Husband

  2. Anonymous

    Renunciate CurmudgeonsI am sure that in some areas we are all renunciate curmudgeons! Good word.

  3. Jennifer Nicol

    Renunciate curmudgeons sounds like some medieval brotherhood.

    Yeah, I think most people move around the innovation spectrum, depending on the circumstances.

    Our personalities probably create a natural roosting point for each of us, but that a particular need or chance discovery may move us to the left or right of the spectrum.


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