|By Greg Schulz||
|November 12, 2013 08:00 AM EST||
Is it based on popularity or how often something that is talked about, blogged, tweeted, commented, video or similar?
What are the indicators that something is gaining traction?
Perhaps it is tied to the number of press releases, product or staffing announcements including who has joined the organization along with added coverage of it?
Maybe its based on how many articles, videos or some other content and coverage that helps to show traction and momentum?
On the other hand is it tied to how many prospects are actually trying a product or service as part of a demo or proof of concept?
Then again, maybe it is associated with how many real paying or revenue installed footprints and customers or what is also known as industry deployment (customer adoption).
Of those customers actually buying and deploying, how many have continued using the technology even after industry adoption subsides or does the solution become shelf ware?
Does the customer deployment actually continue to rise quietly while industry adoption or conversations drop off (past the cycle of hype)?
Gaining context with industry traction
Gaining traction can mean different things to people, however there is also a difference between industry adoption (what's being talked about among the industry) and industry deployment (what customers are actually buying, installing and continue to use).
Often the two can go hand in hand, usually one before the other, however they can also be separate. For example it is possible that something new will have broad industry adoption (being talked about) yet have low customer deployment (even over time). This occurs when something is new and interesting that might be fun to talk about or the vendor, solution provider is cool and fun to hang out and be with, or simply has cool giveaways.
On the other hand there can be customer deployment and adoption with little to no fan fare (industry adoption) for different reasons.
Here's my point
Not long ago if you asked or listened to some, you would think that once high-flying cloud storage vendor Nirvanix was gaining traction based on their marketing along with other activities, yet they recently closed their doors. Then there was Kim Dotcoms hyped Megacloud launch earlier this year that also has now gone dark or shutting down. This is not unique to cloud service providers or solutions as the same can, has and will happen again to traditional hardware, software and services providers (startups and established).
How about former high-flying FusionIO, or the new startup by former FusionIO founder and CEO David Flynn called Primary Data. One of the two is struggling to gain or keep up revenue traction while having declined in industry popularity traction. The other is gaining in industry popularity traction with their recently secured $50 Million in funding yet are still in stealth mode so rather difficult to gain customer adoption or deployment traction (thus for now its industry adoption focus for them ;).
If you are a customer or somebody actually deploying and using technology, tools, techniques and services for real world activity vs. simply trying new things out, your focus on what is gaining traction will probably be different than others. Granted it is important to keep an eye on what is coming or on futures, however there is also the concern of how it will really work and keep working over time.
For example while Hard Disk Drives (HDD) continue to support industry deployment traction (customer adoption and usage) traction. However they are not new and when new models apear (for example Seagate Ethernet based Kinetic) they may not get the same industry adoption traction as a newer technology might. Case in point Solid State Devices (SSD) continue to gain in customer deployment adoption with some environments doing more than others, yet have very high industry adoption traction status.
Relative SSD customer adoption and deployment along with future opportunities
On the other hand if your focus is on what's new and emerging which is usually more industry centered, then it should be no surprise what traction means and where it is focused. For example the following figure shoes where different audiences have various timelines on adoption (read more here).
When you hear that something is gaining traction, ask yourself (or others) what that means along with the applicable context.
Does that mean something is popular and trending to discuss (based on GQ or looks), or that it is actually gaining real customer adoption based on G2 (insight - they are actually buying vs. simply trying our a free version).
Does it mean one form of traction along with industry adoption (what's being talked about) vs. industry deployment (real customer adoption) is better than the other?
No, it simply means putting things into the applicable context.
Ok, nuff said (for now).
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