The VC version of Tech adoption

Cover of Coburn's The Change FunctionCoburn, P. (2006). The Change Function: Why some technologies take off and others crash and burn. New York, NY, Penguin Portfolio.

Picked this one up on a lark from Amazon. Written by a venture capitalist, it breezily argues that the many technologies fail because the perceived pain of adoption is too high.

I found this one hard to get into – my suspicion is that it is (like Women are from Venus, Men are from Mars) one of those books where the title suffices for understanding the main idea. In this case, the title doesn’t, but Coburn helpfully provides this summary in the introduction: 

ISSUE 1: High-tech failure rates stink
The commercial failure rate of nominally great new technologies is troublingly high. That failure rate is consistent with the hatred and distrust most normal human beings – which I like to call Earthlings – tend to have of high technology. That hatred and distrust is a bummer since our little planet can use all the help technology might provide.

ISSUE 2: Suppliers think they are in charge but in reality users are in charge
The technology industry operates according to an implicit supplier-oriented assumption. That assumption is that if one builds great new disruptive technologies and lets cost reduction kick in, markets will naturally appear. This is known as "build it and they will come."

He then goes on to provide a semi-mathematical formula of the "change function" with, I think, the likelihood of success (or, at least, technology adoption) as the product of "perceived crisis" and "perceived pain of adoption".

OK. The perceived pain of reading the rest of the book from that point on became a little too much for me, especially since a quick glance awakened reminiscences of 140-page PowerPoint presentations and hastily grabbed examples. Plus, my perceived crisis is in too much adoption. So I disengaged.

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