Geoffrey Moore’s theory of the modified product adoption life cycle for disruptive technologies really resonated with me and has been a powerful influence in my professional thinking during the last decade.
And dental technology innovations are no different. Previously I have written a little bit on this site about digital dentistry. Much of that content, and in fact much of my career as a marketer, has focused on the part of the adoption curve before the “chasm”, namely as related to digital impression and dental CAD/CAM technology. What innovations satiate the cravings of the early adopters and technology enthusiasts? How does a dental practice or lab minimize the pain and disruption of integrating a new technology and the new workflows it demands into their daily procedures?
But what about the other guys, the pragmatists? As we see the digital dentistry category proliferate with multiple entrants clamoring to explain why their offerings are just as good as the incumbent and why their shiny new features are better, it looks like the chasm may very well be in clear view. Indeed, the market adoption numbers would suggest as much as well.
Now that the category has experienced increasing and significant sales volumes, tremendous industry press coverage, and key visionary and opinion leader endorsements, more members of the early majority segment, the pragmatists, have their eye on digital impression, CAD/CAM, and 3D imaging technologies. Many are wondering if now is finally the time for their practice or lab, if the technology is now “there” for them.
So, for the pragmatists out there who may be pondering a step into digital dentistry, I believe it is important to think about 4 practical considerations.
1. This one may seem obvious, but is the device or technology practical for the practice or lab? Does it reduce workload in the practice and increase efficiency? Technology enthusiasts usually love to tinker around with new devices and figure out how to “make them work”. For the pragmatists out there, this is a headache. So, is the device’s operation relatively seamless and practical?
2. Is a return on the financial investment easily and quickly achievable? This one is fairly straightforward. Can a positive ROI be achieved in one year or less?
3. Is it easy to learn or does it require substantial investment in training and overcoming learning curve? This one goes hand in hand with the seamless operation mentioned in #1. In terms of practicality, the new technology needs to be plug and play or as close to it as possible. This allows for easy delegation of its use to staff when appropriate, thereby reducing any negative impacts on workflow efficiencies in the dental practice or lab.
4. Is there a low ongoing cost of ownership? Are there expensive monthly fees or service agreements to maintain? Are repairs prohibitively costly?
A useful analogy is to think about car purchase and ownership. The technology enthusiast is analogous to the buyer of a high performance sports car, say a Ferrari. They see beyond the large price tag. They don’t mind that repairs are expensive and that parts may not be readily available at any service garage. In fact, they probably even enjoy getting under the hood with the mechanic. They live and breathe that car. It is a way of life for them in a manner of speaking, and they feel a kindred spirit with other owners. It drives them as much as they drive it. The pragmatist on the other hand is analogous to the buyer of a ubiquitous sedan, say a Honda. They want something reliable with a reasonable price tag. They don’t mind that their car looks like most of the others in the parking lot. They want to get from point A to point B safely, economically, and without disruption to their daily lives. It is a tool, a mode of transportation, not a defining element. Neither driver is right or wrong. They simply have different mindsets.
For those on the cutting edge, the trailblazers and visionaries, the 4 considerations are not part of their thought processes. They want to be part of forging a new path and readily accept the costs and headaches which may go along with that. But everyone is not in this mindset. For most of the rest, practicality reigns supreme. And these 4 considerations can go a long way towards helping to determine if a digital dentistry product is practical for the practice or lab.
Thank you for reading.