Models and Theories in Human-Computer Interaction/Diffusion of Innovation – Knowledge base adoption
Diffusion of Innovation – Knowledge base adoption (Karen Darko)
The Diffusion of Innovation (DOI) theory proposes that diffusion is the process by which an innovation spreads via certain communications channels over time among the members of a social system (Rogers, 2004). Our readings and my personal experience lead me to believe that this theory is very useful in understanding how new ideas and technologies are adopted. My personal experience relates to my organization’s decision to create a knowledge base (KB) to help our customers answer questions about how to use our products.
For many years, the Technical Communications (TC) organization that I am part of has helped customers learn to use our products by providing them with documents (PDF or HTML) posted to our company’s web site. This has been effective, but today’s technology users want short articles that answer their questions quickly. The TC social system has been evaluating this new KB approach for about a year and a half. Initially there was much resistance to this idea; it was perceived as “uncertain and somewhat risky,” to paraphrase Roger’s words (2004). TC strategists feared that users needed topics organized in a traditional book structure to learn about products, and that serving up short, individual topics would be confusing. However, as a couple of TC organizations have adopted the KB approach, this resistance has faded and been replace with acceptance and adoption.
This experience mirrors the DOI theory, especially with respect to the influential “early adopter” sources/channels that gave my TC organization confidence to implement a KB approach. The company I work for is large and has many TC organizations. I believe that within my company, we beginning to see rapid adoption of this solution; we are approaching the “fat” part of the S-shaped curve.
Rogers, E. M. (2004) A Prospective and Retrospective Look at the Diffusion Model. Journal of Health Communication, Volume 9:13-19