What to consider when adopting new technology

No doubt, over the winter you’ll find new technologies – at trade shows, in farm publications or talking to other producers – that you’ll consider for your own operation in the year ahead. Some might be relatively minor, while others might precipitate a number of changes in how you do things. 

Social scientists have divided technology adoption into five segments: 

  1. Innovators 
  2. Early adopters 
  3. Early majority 
  4. Late majority
  5. Laggards
Innovator or Laggard? Where do you fall on the technology adopter scale?

Of course, someone might be an innovator or early adopter of a particular technology while being in the late majority or laggard category when it comes to another.

The characterization assumes the technology in question is beneficial and will eventually become the norm, and of course, that isn’t always the case. Innovators and even early adopters are taking a risk, and they should have the financial resources to absorb losses if the technology doesn’t pan out. For this reason, the leading edge is sometimes referred to as the bleeding edge.

On the other end of the scale, while being a laggard doesn’t seem very complimentary, sometimes you can be so far behind on the adoption curve that you end up being ahead. At one time, farms with free-range chickens and group housing of hogs may have been considered laggards.

It isn’t easy to know which technologies will succeed and when to jump in. Perhaps the best advice is to keep an open mind, do lots of your own research, calculate how the change may affect other aspects of your operation and most importantly of all, crunch some numbers.

From an AgriSuccess article (November 2018) by Kevin Hursh.