Knowing when to invest and adapt to a new technology is difficult for everybody, especially so for companies. Being at the forefront of innovation is great but it is very difficult and keeping that pace long term is nearly impossible for most companies. The best companies are able to implement new technologies in a timely and cost effective way without burning resources or locking themselves into a niche that quickly becomes obsolete. New technologies often fail and you do not want to invest heavily into the newest thing, only to have it flop.
It used to be that change in any industry came along either slowly or only out of necessity. This slow pace allowed for everyone to adapt in their own cost efficient ways. Since innovation used to come less often, the cycle of new innovation was slow and the queue of adopters was long. There are some sectors of the economy that still operate this way but it is beginning to be few and far between. The old ways of innovating and adapting are changing.
Innovation and Early Adoption
Technologies today move so fast that more and more companies are able to lead the way in innovation. Each company has the ability to take things in their own direction. After these innovators come the early adopters. Those who are continually adapting early are increasing their risk of being constantly leap-frogged by other new innovations and early adopters. Being able to adapt early and move quickly is a key advantage in any industry but no company should strive to always be an early adapter since not all technologies will last.
Companies can miss the most important point, that it is the ability to adapt early rather than actually always adopting early. Being able to make the changes when you are wrong and having the survival instinct to adapt when necessary is the strongest advantage any company or person has. Staying flexible and ahead of the competition is the true goal of innovators and early adopters. Understanding the cost benefit of the time it takes to adapt to a new technology is crucial to keeping barriers of entry high and keeping out new comers. A company does not have to always be focusing on coming up with the latest innovation or trying to stay at the edge of early adoption. They only need to know when it is most profitable for them to invest in innovating and adapting to new technologies.