Cut through the hype

Stephan Hartgers
Publication Date
19 July 2022

Cut through the hype

How to cut through the hype around blockchain, 5G, metaverse and web3.0 for business leaders

The benefits and challenges of being first

When new technologies emerge, it is key for companies to understand where the value is for the users. To identify pockets of value from new technologies quickly, business leaders can best partner with experts or experienced vendors to speed up the adoption. Trying to develop new capabilities inhouse is typically slower as the organisation must overcome its own resistance to change.

After identifying potential relevant and viable opportunities, business leaders should validate with their users if they see value in the concept. This can apply to customers, employees, or partners they work with. Only when the solution has value to them, it makes sense to investigate how to drive business development or lower cost. One way to validate if a solution has value is by introducing more experimentation and user validation into the initial stages of the development process. Involving users into the design process, and adopting a human-centric approach, increases the likelihood of adoption and success.

Benefits to organisations being early adopters of new tech

Innovators and early adopters can reap significant value from increased revenue or decreased cost. A study in the Harvard Business Review showed that pioneers, innovators and early adopters of new technologies, are two times more likely to have high revenue growth compared to late adopters.

Companies are more eager to invest in new technologies if it can leverage the early mover advantage for several years, which comes from a high barrier to enter. Elon Musk disrupted the car industry by developing and investing in electric cars and its battery technology. While the Tesla cars are still considered to be expensive and charging stations are few, competition is catching up and, in several areas, overtaking Tesla with the entry of cheaper models or more luxury the same price point. This early mover advantage has made Elon Musk one of the richest people in the world.

In the initial stages of innovation, organisations can also capture other benefits, such as:

  • Innovative reputation to attract or retain loyal customers.
  • Ability to influence the development of new tech.
  • Being a thought leader in the space to attract the best employees.
  • Getting free publicity when adopting new technologies.

Two examples illustrate these benefits. By hosting the first metaverse meetup in The Netherlands, we connected with the community of local software developers as part of a local recruitment drive. And Heineken, a global leader in beer production, revealed the first beer brewery and first entirely virtual beer in metaverse. This generated a tremendous amount of free publicity for the brand, both in mainstream and marketing specific media all around the world, hitting all the benefits mentioned above.

Early adopter or just follow

Smart and responsible investments are always preferred over just being the first. In the same HBR study as mentioned before, 34% of respondents to a survey considered their companies to be an innovator or early adopter. Not everyone has to be an early adopter. Being an early adaptor can also have severe downside risks:

  • Higher price to pay for the new technology.
  • More limitations in applicability, where it does not fit well into the rest of the ecosystem.
  • Higher risk of malfunctions and repairs to deal with.
  • Early mover advantage turning into the early mover disadvantage when the later movers adopt newer and improved versions of the products.
  • Messing up the execution or betting on the wrong horse. Even after selecting an innovative technology that later turns out to have significant value in the industry, a business might get the implementation wrong or select the wrong partner, resulting in additional cost when migrating to a suitable alternative.

Late adopters have the benefits of lower prices as the price for research has already been paid for by the innovators and early adopters, and more stable products as the early glitches have been ironed out.

Deciding to be the innovator or early adopter of an innovative technology depends on several factors:

  • Risk appetite of the company, where we see many innovative ideas being killed because the potential revenue is unclear, not because the idea has evidence of being a failure.
  • Capabilities in people, processes and technology are lacking to understand, adopt and support new technologies, causing internal resistance to change.
  • High barrier to enter for late adopters, resulting in a longer period to benefit from the early mover advantage.

New technology trends also introduce new business models and new products, but also with higher risks. These business models typically tend to grow better when developed outside an existing organisation, not held back by slow decision-making processes and other corporate red tape.

Whether you are big or small – or somewhere in between – Mobiquity's digital innovation consulting can help. As an agile organisation that can jump in at any time, and scale up or down depending on your digital innovation needs.

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Stephan Hartgers

Stephan is a seasoned strategy consultant, with experience in Digital Innovation, IT, CX, and Data Analytics. In his early years as a consultant, he built his foundation in KPMG Consulting and McKinsey & Company, working for extensive periods in The Netherlands, Belgium, US, Canada, and China across a variety of industries. As a member of the Management Team of Mobiquity Europe, Stephan is responsible for the Strategy, Analytics, and Digital Product Management competences. Most of all, he still likes to get his hands dirty working with Mobiquity’s clients to create and implement digital strategies. When he manages complex and challenging IT programs and environments at high pace, he brings stability with confidence, flair, and humor. Stephan lives with his partner and two daughters in The Hague, and is a passionate kite- surfer.

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