Tech Talk | Thank an innovator for that handy new piece of tech

It's the innovators who are willing to take risks to help improve technologies. Photo: Shutterstock.

It's the innovators who are willing to take risks to help improve technologies. Photo: Shutterstock.

When we purchase products, we should be thankful for the innovators.

Everett Rogers released his Diffusion of Innovations book in 1962, but his hypothesis is still used today for the methodology of adoption of any new idea, in particular technology.

Rogers postulated that only 2.5 per cent of society can be classified as innovators in the sense of how new ideas are adopted.

Only 2.5 per cent of society can be classified as innovators.

Innovators are willing to take risks, rely on scientific information, are very social and are willing to adopt technologies that may ultimately fail.

Innovators will be the first customers to try a new product, which is usually the time those products are the most expensive.

The four other categories are: early adopters; early majority; late majority and laggards, at 13.5; 34; 34 and 16 per cent respectively. The cost of technology can often be very expensive at release date and then declines over time as production increases.

When I installed my 10kW of solar panels almost a decade ago, it added 5 per cent to the value of my house.

If I installed the same array today, it would be lucky to make up 1 per cent of my house value.

When a technology company is planning a release of any new kind of product, they fully understand that they must first sell to the innovators.

To access the other 97.5 per cent of the market, the innovators need to be on board.

The advantage for the 97.5 per cent - and the reason I said we should be thankful for the innovators - is that the innovators will pay the highest price and do the real-world testing before the rest of the market starts to buy the product. They want the latest now and they will work out the cost later.

Sure, there are times that the products are not perfect and this group can live with that.

By the time the early majority starts purchasing the product, they are comfortable it is fit for purpose and the pricing may even have dropped.

Which brings me to electric vehicles (EVs). Only 0.6 per cent of all new cars purchased in Australia last year were electric. Pricing is coming down, range is being tested and more charging stations are being built.

The innovators are driving (pun time!) the way forward for the rest of society and not only will the rest of society be beneficiaries but so will the planet.

Due to the higher purchase cost of an EV, current EV owners are paying higher stamp duty; GST and luxury car tax.

I have previously written articles on the total cost of ownership of EVs being similar to ICEVs with the higher purchase price offset by the lower running costs.

From a tax perspective, EV owners have paid their tax upfront compared to ICEV owners, paying their tax with fuel excise (which, by the way, hasn't been linked to road funding since 1959). Unfortunately, in this country, we are now seeing some laggard governments deciding that taxing EVs for each kilometre driven is a good way forward.

When other locations around the world are forging ahead with percentage of EV sales (Norway; Netherlands; California and China are at 55.9; 15.1; 7.7 and 4.9 per cent) the last thing we need is a barrier for entry in to the market.

Not tomorrow, but one day in the future, we will run out of elements to dig up from this nation and when we do, we hope governments have a vision for the future rather than relying on the past.

Tell me where you sit on the Diffusion of Innovation scale at ask@techtalk.digital.

  • Mathew Dickerson is a technologist and futurist and the founder of several technology start-ups.