High Tech Strategies > The Marketing Chasm > Crossing the Technology Adoption Chasm: Healthcare
crossing the market chasm

Crossing the Technology Adoption Chasm in Healthcare

Healthcare innovations are often unsuccessful because the developers and founders are not familiar with the concept of crossing the technology adoption chasm. This concept addresses the fundamental differences between early adopters and risk-averse mainstream buyers. Computerized Dynamic Posturography is an early example of a company’s success due to crossing the technology adoption chasm.

Complaints of imbalance are common in older adults and contribute to the risk of falling and are a cause of death and disability in this growing population in the United States. Balance is also influenced by the general health of the patient (i.e., muscle tone, strength, range of motion). Therefore, identifying and treating the underlying balance disorder can be difficult.

Computerized Dynamic Posturography (CDP) was first developed in the 1980s by Lew Nashner at NeuroCom, with initial support from NASA to evaluate the effects of space flight on vestibular function and balance control in astronauts. CDP can be used to quantify and differentiate between sensory, motor and central impairments in balance control.

CDP is a unique assessment technique used to objectively quantify and differentiate among these three sensory inputs, along with motor, and central adaptive impairments to balance control. After experiencing several years of increasing sales, NeuroCom was beginning to see a decline in their core business. In essence, the company was running out of early adopters to sell to, and needed to cross the market chasm. This involved the following three steps:

Assess the market and find the cause of declining sales:

Between the time that early adopters have finished making their early buying commitments and the time that mainstream customers are ready to buy is typically a period of several years or more. During this period of transition, the new product has no market.

Develop a strategy to cross the market chasm:

To win over mainstream buyers, you must have a fully developed, packaged solution tuned specifically to their industry or market segment. Rather than going after many segments slowly, it is better to go after one or two swiftly.

Identify the best partners and sales channels:

Mainstream customers like to buy from people and channels they already know, and this typically does not include the sales representatives of a start-up venture. To secure their business as quickly as possible, it is better to present your new product via a more familiar channel.

Crossing the Technology Adoption Chasm

The standard prescription for crossing the technology adoption chasm is to select the best partners and allies, and create a complete solution-oriented product that meets the needs of a specific niche of target customers, thereby establishing a foothold in the mainstream market. However, that formula has been shown to fail if it is applied incorrectly or incompletely.

A team of consultants working at Regis McKenna Inc. (including High Tech Strategies founder Warren Schirtzinger) developed and implemented a comprehensive strategy that translated into mainstream market acceptance of NeuroCom’s CDP product. The strategy development process is as follows:

  1. Target Customer Analysis — Select and describe an identifiable economic group of buyers that will be your initial target. If there are closely-related groups of buyers, decide which one to focus on first.
  2. Customer Motivation Analysis — Verify that the target customer has a compelling reason to buy the new product or technology, as soon as possible. Describe the specific motivation that will drive your success with them.
  3. Define the Complete Solution — Determine what makes the product “complete and compelling” in the eyes of your initial target customer. The complete product is the total set of products and services required by the target customer to achieve his or her objectives. This often means the core product/technology must be augmented with a variety of services and ancillary products to become complete.
  4. Identify Potential Partners and Allies — It is rare for a single organization to be able to deliver every piece or element of a whole product. So, the only way to satisfy the whole product requirement is to identify and then recruit the necessary partners and allies.
  5. Select Sales Channels and Prepare — Mainstream customers have very strong preferences regarding who they buy from and they especially like to buy from organizations and channels they already know. You must offer your new product through a “familiar” channel.
  6. Determine Appropriate Pricing — People in the mainstream do not spend money as freely as early adopters. And, at the same time, the sales channel needs to be rewarded appropriately for selling to your target customer. Your price point needs to reflect these requirements.
  7. Competitive Analysis — Identify the “most dangerous” competitor and analyze their capabilities. Look for ways (in addition to trademarks and patents) you can develop and maintain competitive advantage.
  8. Positioning and Messaging — Communicate the right combination of messages based on what the target customer already believes to be true. Proper messaging allows your organization to be seen as a credible provider of products and services to the target market.
  9. Select the Next Target Segment — Identify an adjacent niche market that extends the progress you make in your initial market segment.

NeuroCom’s Computerized Dynamic Posturography (CDP) System became the industry gold standard in the assessment and treatment of patients with balance, dizziness and mobility problems. And NeuroCom’s CDP test protocols achieved a 30-year record of clinical use supported by peer-reviewed research.

Based on NeuroCom’s market leadership in the CDP industry, the company was acquired by Natus Medical Incorporated in 2008.