When we can choose to be a late adopter, I like that choice

By JJ Rosen March 3, 2024
When we can choose to be a late adopter, I like that choice

This article originally appeared in The Tennessean.

Better later than never?

When it came to getting COVID, I was hoping for never.

I’m that guy.

I’m the germophobe, who, despite the pandemic being over, remains at the ready with a mask and a bottle of hand sanitizer in my pocket at all times. I’ve still been dining outside as much as possible (even when it’s cold,) avoiding crowds, and holding my breath at the grocery store.

Undeterred by some eye rolling from friends and family, it took 1,503 days (about 4 years) by my count from the first case of COVID until this past week when I felt the beginnings of scratchy throat and a stuffy nose.

I hoped it was a cold, strep throat, or some psychosomatic ailment that would go away in an hour.  Anything but COVID!

But alas, with the onset of a fever and positive test, I accepted my fate.

The timing was par for the course for me.

Unlike COVID, where it’s impossible to completely control when you get it, in most everything else in life I’ve always been what marketing people refer to as a “late adopter.”

Despite being in the tech field, or perhaps because of it, I’ve always been one of those people who takes their time before jumping on any bandwagon.

I waited for version two of the iPhone before giving up my Blackberry. I sat on the sidelines for years when Facebook began to catch on preferring to wait and see before going all in. And I let others try Uber before I finally felt comfortable trying it myself.

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Like many things in life, my late adopter tendencies have been both good and bad.

On the one hand, here and there my late to-the-party strategy has put me behind the curve on things that have proven to be useful.

I loved the technology behind the cloud, but before moving all our company’s infrastructure, I wanted to see how it worked for others.  I have gotten deep into using AI to make our business more efficient, but I spent a year testing it before making the leap.

But as a techie, I know that early versions of new products can sometimes come with kinks that take some time to be worked out.  And just because something is initially popular doesn’t mean that it will continue to be.

Laser disks, Bitcoin, Google Glass, 3D TV’s—the world is littered with innovations that in hindsight would have been best to avoid.

So, where’s, the sweet spot?

Business is a game of taking calculated risks and making smart tradeoffs.  Too much caution around embracing innovation carries with it the risk that the competition will pass you by.  But jumping on an unproven bandwagon too soon can be costly if you’re wrong.

Being an early or late adopter isn’t an exact science.  And while most of us trend toward one or the other, I’ve found it’s best to recognize your comfort zone and then take on innovations as they come—one at a time.

As I came out of my COVID fog, I was reminded that there are many times where being early or late isn’t something you can choose.  So, for me at least, when I do have a choice, I’ll likely continue to be just behind the crowd—with my mask on.

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JJ Rosen is the founder of Atiba, a custom software development firm and Nashville IT support company. Visit Atiba.com for more info.

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