Diffusion and Adoption of Information Systems

Introduction

Information systems help organizations manage and process information. The system consists of people, data records, and other activities that are used in processing the data and information in an organization. It is a new technology that many organizations have adopted to meet the needs of the different stakeholders in the organizations. Before a new idea reaches the organization, it must be communicated through certain channels in a certain social system. Before an organization decides to adopt or implement an information system, the system is thoroughly analyzed by the management to determine whether it will be effective for the organization. At times, a system may be adapted only to later lead to constraints in organization performance. This paper will seek to analyze the diffusion and adoption of information systems.

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Diffusion

Diffusion takes place when there is a new idea. It basically involves the process by which a new idea is communicated using certain channels in a given period of time among the individuals of a social system (Everett 2003, p.221). When the new idea reaches a state of equilibrium, management in many organizations adopt it and use it to meet the demands of the organization. In line with the consumers, diffusion refers to the process by which new ideas, products, and services reach the different consumers using certain channels. The idea of an information system has reached many organizations through the media and as a result, many organizations have adopted the system.

Innovation

Innovation is a product, idea, or practice that a relevant individual or group of individuals perceive to be new. Innovation in most cases brings an improvement in the previous state of an organization’s operations. Different ideas, products, and practices that are perceived to be knew spread at different rates in the market. An information system is an innovation that has helped solve many business problems. The system helps by ensuring that every organization’s department receives accurate and timely information. Information obtained from various sources facilitates in improving organization performance with respect to service provision or quality in production.

Diffusion and Innovation

Diffusion and innovation refer to the process by which the acceptance of a new product, idea, or practice is spread (Les 2009, prg.6). The spread of acceptance takes place through certain channels of communication. The new product, idea, or practice could reach the target market through the mass media where the owners of the idea could advertise it in newspapers, magazines, the TV, radio, billboards, and many others. Organizations’ salespeople who go out with the new products convincing them how the new product can help solve their problems. In some cases, some individuals who have used the new idea, product, or practice, recommend it to a friend. This way, the idea spreads to a lot of people in a given culture. Many organizations have today adopted information systems as a way of managing and processing information. In case the adapted information system shows positive changes in an organization, other competing organizations tend to adapt the system to facilitate in improving their performance. Before the system has become familiar in the market, initial users of the information system as well as those wishing to adopt it perceive the idea to be new.

Elements of Diffusion Process

There are four major elements of the diffusion process. These are factors that affect the spread of a new idea, product, or practice. The innovation that is at hand affects the rate at which it spreads. The rate of adoption of innovation will be affected by the relative advantage of the innovation. The convenience of the innovation to the users, its economic advantage, satisfaction, social prestige, and others are likely to affect the way that the users perceive the innovation to be better than the idea that supersedes. If the user perceives that innovation has a greater relative advantage, they are likely to adopt it more rapidly. The compatibility of the innovation with the existing values of the users affects the rate at which it will be adopted. The ease of use of a new idea or product also affects the diffusion of innovation. Trialability refers degree to which the users of innovation can trail it on a limited basis. A trialable innovation is likely to be adopted rapidly than one that is not trialable. The observable results of innovation affect the rate of diffusion of the innovation. If individuals can see the results of an innovation, they are more likely to adopt the innovation than one whose results cannot be observed. Communication is the second factor that affects the diffusion of a new idea. It refers to the process by which information regarding the idea is shared so as to increase understanding. Mass media and interpersonal channels are used in most cases (Greg 2003, prg.4). Time also affects the diffusion process. Time is involved in processes such as the innovation-decision process, innovativeness of the unit of adoption, and the rate of diffusion. The fourth element that affects is the social system. This consists of all the units involved in solving the problem at hand to achieve a common goal. The social system is important because innovation diffuses here.

Adoption

According to Lawrence (2004, p. 64), adoption is the process by which an individual makes a decision on whether to accept or reject an innovation. Communication takes place where the owners of the new idea aim to reach the target individual. The process takes place in five steps where an individual first becomes aware of the available new product, idea, or practice. Some individuals express their interest by having a closer look at the innovation. They then evaluate the idea in terms of its capacity to meet their needs. The other step is checking the trialability of the new product, idea, or practice by individuals who have interests. Those individuals who feel like the innovation can help them improve their satisfaction adopt it.

Consumer Adoption Process

The adoption process takes place in five stages. The first stage is the awareness stage. This is where a person gets an idea about a new innovation (Lawrence 2004, p.152). In this stage, one is not aware of the benefits an innovation may have thus not curious or wanting to know more about the innovation. After one has gotten ideas about the innovation, he or she develops an interest in gaining insight to the innovation. This marks the second stage where one struggles to gather information about the novelty. After fully understanding the innovation, a person then embarks on evaluating the effects innovation may have in improving his or her organization. Depending on findings, a person decides whether to adopt the innovation or drop it. If the individual decides to adopt the innovation, he or she applies the innovation in different situations trying to see its usefulness (Leon and Leslie 2006, p.517). One continues enquiring on methods to improve the innovation to align it to his or her business operations. The final stage comes when one has realized that the innovation may be productive to his or her organization. The innovation is fully implemented in the organization replacing the old system of operations.

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Adopter Categories

Adopter categories define a group of individuals who contribute to the success of the process of innovation. Innovators refer to the group of individuals who are the very first to adopt an innovation. These are individual that risk adopting the innovation as soon as it appears. They are young and do not have to wait for others to try it. They have great financial lucidity, are very social and keep close contact with scientific sources and other innovators. Early adopters are the second to adopt the innovation in terms of time. They have the highest capacity to make opinions in leadership. They are young, have advanced in education, have higher social status, and others in relation to late adopters (Everett, 2003, para. 2). Early Majority take quite sometime before they adopt an innovation. They wait for the innovators and the early adopters to set the pace. Their social status is above average and they show some opinion leadership. The frequently get in contact with innovators and early adopters. Late Majority take too long to adopt an innovation. They actually adopt an innovation after the average person in a community has adopted the innovation. They doubt the innovation very much and are not willing to adopt it until they are sure that it has worked for many individuals. Their social status, financial lucidity, and opinion leadership is below average. Laggards take the longest time to adopt an innovation. They are the oldest of all the adopters and they seem to concentrate on traditions other than innovations. Their financial fluidity and social status are the lowest and they are mostly in contact with friends and family members (Everett, 2003, para. 4).

Advantages

Adopters of new ideas have advantages that they acquire as a result of their risks. An interest in a new product, idea, or innovation helps individual create a peer network where they can always interact (Hirst 2000, p.158). Innovation brings individuals from different geographical regions with a common purpose at one place. Adopters also have the capacity to control financial resources. Since most of the adopters are educated, they have the ability to apply technical knowledge in dealing with the new ideas. Adapters must be prepared to face the challenge of uncertainties.

Factors Affecting Diffusion

Diffusion of an idea mostly depends on innovative, individual, and social network characteristics. Innovative characteristics include: observability which is the degree to which the adopters of an innovation can view the results of the innovation; relative advantage refers to the ability of the innovation to be perceived to help adopters solve or improve their status; compatibility refers to the ability of the innovation to be compatible to the values of the individuals adopting it. Trialability refers to the ability of the innovation to be experienced on a limited basis. Complexity refers to the ease of use of the innovation by adopters. Others factors include innovativeness referring to the ability of an individual to adopt an innovation before others, adopter threshold, need for change, and reliance on others for information.

Conclusion

For a new idea to be adapted, it has to be formulated in a way that the targeted group will be able to understand it in their first encounter. It needs to be made simple as many people fear adapting complex innovations. As new ideas reach the market through mass media and other channels of communication, there is need for one to present his or her idea in a manner that it will be easily understood. Understanding the target market is vital for quick adaption of one’s idea.

Reference

Everett M. R., 2003, Diffusion of Innovations. (Fifth Edition). New York: Free Press.

Greg, O. 2003. Diffusion of Innovations. Web.

Hirst, E. 2000. Reaching for 100 percent participation in a utility conservation programme The Hood River project, Energy Policy, Vol. 17, No.2, pp155-164

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Lawrence, A. B., 2004, Innovation Diffusion: A New Perspective. New York: Taylor & Francis Group.

Leon, G. S. & Leslie, L. K., 2006, Consumer Behavior. London: McMillan Publishers.

Les, R. 2009. A Summary of Diffusion of Innovations. Web.

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