Beyond the Present Border: Crossing the Chasm – Guest Post by @GeorgeCohta

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In 1991, the management consultant Geoffrey A. Moore wrote a book titled “Crossing the Chasm: Marketing and Selling Disruptive Products to Mainstream Customers.” It has become a must-read book for bringing cutting-edge products to progressively larger markets and it is widely quoted in the business community. But now a lot has changed, especially in the digital world with the rise of cloud computing, software-as-a-service, mobile devices, big data analytics, viral marketing, and so on… Thus, in January this year, Moore introduced the updated 3rd edition of “Crossing the Chasm” with new examples taken from the last decade, and two new appendices to help bridge the gap between what’s new and what’s not for the modern digital age.

By the way, what is « the Chasm »? Moore’s thesis is founded on an idea known as the Technology Adoption Life Cycle (TALC) model, which was generalized by sociologist Everett M. Rogers (in his book “Diffusion of Innovations” from 1962), a bell curve that breaks down the process of how high-tech products become absorbed into the mainstream market. Moore categorizes high-tech consumers into the following segments:

  • Innovators: They are the technology enthusiasts, and are the smallest group of people in the TALC.
  • Early Adopters: They are second in line. Moore refers to them as “visionaries.” They are willing to sacrifice for the advantage of being first and are often some kind of professionals who are looking for the next breakthrough product or service.
  • Early Majority: They want until they know that the technology actually offers improvements in productivity.
  • Late Majority: They are much more conservative than the Early Majority. They don’t find value in technology, all the more so with it just for technology’s sake.
  • Laggards: Moore calls them “the skeptics,” represents the most difficult in dealing with. They will unconsciously or begrudgingly accept the technology.
TALC

Image via « O’Reilly Strata 2014 Keynotes » (click to access the slides)

Moore postulates that technology companies encounter a « Chasm » between the Early Adopters and the Early Majority. This stage is the most dangerous zone in the TALC – the gap between visionary acceptance and that of the early market majority pragmatists (that is consumers at large). Furthermore, there need to be entirely different strategies for each group in the marketing approaches.

5 signs that crowdsourcing will cross the chasm in 2013

Click on the image to read François Pétavy’s post « 5 signs that crowdsourcing will cross the chasm in 2013 » published on crowdsourcing.org in February 2013

Leaping this Chasm is their big issue. Highlighting the difficulty of traversing the Chasm, Moore writes in the book: « Pragmatists do not see a complete solution to their problem, plus there is no group of references that have formed that they trust. In addition, they want to see the solution working live at customer sites. Revenue growth ceases or even recedes in the Chasm. The length of this market lull is uncertain. »

A few years ago, co-creation platforms were still among the pioneers, under the radar and challenging the dominant thinkers, confronted with the challenge of crossing the Chasm as well. As you may undoubtedly know, co-creation is a collaborative initiative that can be operationalized with crowdsourcing by seeking ideas from a group of creative people (for more information, please read my other post).

A few years ago, co-creation platforms were still among the pioneers, under the radar and challenging the dominant thinkers

However, forward-looking big players start using co-creation platforms in their innovation, marketing and communication strategies by degrees. So co-creation gets adopted by most companies and has become recognized by the worldwide business community today. These partnerships are significant signs that co-creation is an effective business solution for a variety of organizations.

Now that co-creation, and crowdsourcing, platforms are crossing the Chasm, these techniques get into the mainstream and can’t be ignored anymore. I hope those who are in startup companies and bigger organizations will tap into the power of co-creation platforms such as eYeka.

I hope those who are in startup companies and bigger organizations will tap into the power of co-creations platform like eYeka

The basic TALC framework hasn’t changed over the last 20 years. But most business books are not exactly known for their longevity – so what’s new in the 3rd edition? Moore brings a major important new twist to the updated edition. I think most particular note is descriptions about cloud computing. Moore writes on his blog: “I am thinking specifically of enterprise IT here, and there is no question in this context that cloud itself has had to cross the chasm. But now that it has, and brought along with it SaaS applications and more recently mobile clients, the barrier to entry for next-generation B2B software companies is much lower. The chasm is still there, but it is nowhere near as daunting as it was a decade or more ago.”

Given what I have read and felt, it’s not too much to say that crowdsourcing is shifting from an experimental phase to mainstream among – not only big players but also – small businesses and startups.

We have 5 reasons to believe this is already before our eyes:

About George Cohta

George Cohta, President and CEO of iglobe Inc. is a Communication Designer, Social Media Concierge, Digital Curator, Gamification Evangelist, Generalist, and Associate of the incorporated association of data scientist in Japan. You can find his LinkedIn profile on http://www.linkedin.com/in/georgecohta
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