In the not too distant past, labeling a company an “early adopter” of IT was a badge of honor: it meant you were innovative, shrewd and competitive.  After the tech bust, however, the importance of being an early adopter waned. But a recent A.T. Kearney/ Harris Interactive study shows there’s still proven value in an IT department having early adopter status; provided the strategy is driven by the business side, it can lead to competitive advantage. Not only do early adopters and companies that focus on innovation grow faster than their peers, but they also have a tighter linkage between their business and IT strategies. In fact, in studies of 144 companies in the United States and Europe, more than three-quarters of innovative companies described their IT planning as “fully integrated” or developed with “direct reference” to corporate strategy. Also, nearly 60% of early adopters of technology said their IT sponsorship was primarily business-driven. And that approach has a real payoff: 63% of the early adopters grew faster than their competitors over the past five years. These same companies were much more likely to indicate that their business and IT planning was a cooperative, integrated process. Unfortunately, while many companies would prefer to adopt earlier in the technology life cycle, most seem unable to execute this vision. Instead, they reluctantly invest in mature technologies, and miss the advantages of early adoption.

Optimize July 2003