Using Diffusion of Innovation Science to Build Better Network Science Software

diffusion of innovation science

At Visible Network Labs, we know that taking a network science lens on the world can be a transformative approach. Investigating and understanding the web of connections that link people and organizations can introduce new ways of seeing the world and solving problems. On the other hand, we know that it can be a bit overwhelming to learn about. To that end, we are focusing on making our technology intuitive and easy to use, and we are here to support clients through every step of the process!

New Technology is Great... When It Actually Works

We’ve all been there; a new, amazing piece of technology has promised to change our lives for the better, and we’ve got to decide if we should stay the course on how we’ve always done things in the past — or forge into the great unknown! In the worst case, one worries that the technology will fall short on its promise. Maybe it’s difficult to use, or takes a long time to learn, leaving the user feeling like it may be easier to stick with the old way of doing something. When these barriers become too much to overcome, people often just give up.  It’s also easy to think of examples where the opposite occurs – a new technology becomes an overnight success because of how easy it is to use. 

Zoom: An Example of Rapid Diffusion

For example, many of us had used Skype personally or professionally since its release in 2003, and up to that point, it was the best and easiest way to connect via videochat to people around the world. Many people remained comfortable with it, and preferred using Skype even as its competitor Zoom launched in 2013, because Skype was more established and well known. However, this all changed during the COVID-19 pandemic because Zoom offered some clear advantages over its competitors, and before long, seemingly everyone was using Zoom: for work, for school, and for connecting with friends.  In fact, the company’s revenue soared 319% in 2020.  But why did this happen?

The Diffusion of Innovation Theory

The Diffusion of Innovation Theory was popularized by Everett Rogers and as the theory states, the likelihood of an innovation’s success depends on five characteristics. First, its observability–can the results be seen by the users?  Second, does the innovation offer a relative advantage over the current method? Third, how compatible is the new technology with previous ways of doing things? Fourth, what is the trialability of the innovation, or, in other words, can users experience the innovation on a limited basis without fully committing? Finally, what is the simplicity of the innovation? 

What makes some technology and innovation spread more quickly?

In short, the Diffusion of Innovation Theory makes the case that technologies will be easier to adopt if they are perceived to embody those characteristics. With those characteristics in mind, it’s easy to see why Zoom soared into the stratosphere during the pandemic! The diffusion phenomenon is not limited to technologies like Zoom. It’s also been observed in the way educators adopt practices based in research, community-based organizations adopt health programs, and how doctors prescribe drugs.

At Visible Network Labs, we too are focused on these characteristics as we build our PARTNER platforms to meet our clients needs:


We work to build a community of PARTNER users to help you see first hand the successful outcomes others have achieved using our platform. When using our PARTNER platforms initially, many people have an ‘aha’ moment when they first see their network map, and begin to realize the many insights that come from taking a network science approach.

Relative Advantage

PARTNER exists to save you time, leverage resources efficiently, strategize more effectively, and evaluate your relationship-building efforts with validated data. Our webinars, case studies, testimonials, and customer stories all demonstrate the value of using our PARTNER platforms to improve collaboration and strengthen social care.


Our team significantly focuses on integrating our PARTNER platforms and processes into existing workflows with integrations and training. Our support provides a nearly seamless way to adopt PARTNER platforms without rethinking your workflow or day-to-day strategy.


Signing up for a free PARTNER trial account is open to all, and can be used to try building a survey or mapping and analyzing an example of an existing network’s data. You can also explore our past reports, or sign up for a free web demo to get your questions answered in real-time by one of our experts.


Accessibility is one of our core values. Our Customer Experience and Product teams break down complex network science concepts and ideas into actionable tips, tricks, and lessons you can apply right away. The platform is built with the latest UI/UX best practices to ensure ease of use at every step of the process.

Diffusion of Innovation Science Informs Everything we Do at VNL

At VNL, we are at the cutting edge of developing new technologies to measure social connectedness using our PARTNER platform.

While we know there are tremendous benefits to taking a network science approach to understanding society’s most pressing problems, we also know the difficulty clients may face when trying to see the world in a different way. The language and theory and methods of social network analysis can be overwhelming. We strive to overcome these barriers to empower our clients to solve complex problems with a social networks approach.

Curious about working together? Click here to contact us and setup a call. We’d love to connect!

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