Monday, September 10, 2012

When in doubt, give it a try first.

A was reading another article related to the management of technology today.  This one looked at the importance of trialability on technology adoption. 

What is trialability?  It is the ability of a purchaser (in this study it was B2B, but either one might apply) to try out a technology before adopting (buying) it.  There are several dimensions that might determine how trialability impacts adoption of the technology.
  • Trying the product in a controlled environment inside the store is easy and quick, but not as helpful as bringing it to the home/office, trying it out in your real life, and looking at the real results.  Getting a trial version to use at home/office would be somewhere in the middle.  So would purchasing it and knowing there is an easy/reliable return policy so you can always bring it back for a full refund.
  • What is the risk of trying it out?  Trying out a bank’s web site might require inputting your personal information.  That might reduce a customer’s willingness to try it out for real.  But using dummy data would prevent the customer from REALLY trying it.  Ecological validity leads to more confidence when there is risk.
The results of the study may be just what you expect, but not what lots of companies are currently doing.  They found that in situations where there is a high risk of adopting a product, potential customers value very highly the ability to try it out first.  And the trial HAS to be ecologically valid.  Potential customers need to try it out for real.  They just don’t trust the salesperson not to have rigged the in-store trial.   Potential customers also want the trial to require minimal resources.  It can’t have up front costs (even with a good return policy – in B2B, just getting the budget in the first place is most of the work).  It can’t involve risks (such as losing data). 

This is really hard.  If a provider wants to create a trial for its product, how do they make it ecologically valid but also risk and cost free?  That is the challenge.

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