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Crossing the Chasm

This book (Wikipedia:Crossing_the_Chasm) is rather old now but is still good and will always be noteworthy for pointing out the fact that there is a chasm between innovators and early adopters. (NB - Wikipedia article isn't that good so you might like to buy the book. Yes, that's right, I live in the UK.) The book's author, Geoffrey Moore, says that this is because the two groups of customers have different reasons to buy. Failure to understand this will mean that they get stuck in the chasm: the initial early sales don't turn into a mainstream market and the company goes slowly (or quickly - it depends on the type of investors) down the tubes.

The Codev community has knowledge of a large number of TWiki implementations and, hopefully, the reasons why those companies adopted TWiki. This topic may be a good place to discuss this and to answer the question: Is TWiki pre or post chasm? (And, if the answer is "pre" it may be the catalyst for understanding what is needed to make the crossing.)

Innovator Customers

  • They love technology (Obviously! They're geeks.)
  • Will spend ages trying to get the exciting new product to work
  • As long as it produces enough of a business benefit so that their superiors will continue to let them "play with their toys" then they're happy.
  • They don't need a reference site.

Early Adopter Customers

  • These users implement technology to steal a march on competitors. They are buying a change agent. In other words, with the exciting new product they can do something that they can’t do without it.
  • They are prepared to put up with poor documentation, a so-so user experience etc
  • Reference site, to them, is another company that's also trying to "steal a march". They will take the Innovators as references.

Early Majority Customers

  • These users want a productivity improvement. i.e. business as normal – but better.
  • Expect a pretty good user experience.
  • Reference site, to them, is another company that's also trying to improve the business. Early adopter references not very acceptable to them.

-- Contributors: MichaelCorbett - 03 Sep 2007

Pre or Post? Discussion

Remember, Crossing the Chasm is only a theory and no one's saying this is cast in stone. But it may be a good lens through which to discuss the considerable knowledge that the community has in TWiki customers, their reasons for buying etc.

-- MichaelCorbett - 03 Sep 2007

A classic book! Book summaries:

Our TWikiCommunity is by definition pre-chasm. I do not know the percentage of the TWiki installations which are in the post-chasm bucket. My guess, pretty low.

We will create entry points on twiki.org for different target groups (geeks, managers, CxOs, press/analysts, etc.). We can consider the Crossing the Chasm for this.

-- PeterThoeny - 03 Sep 2007

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