Ling Ling SunLing Ling Sun is Chief Technology Officer at Nebraska Public Media and the Chair of the 2023 NAB Broadcast Engineering and IT Conference Program Committee 

As the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) prepares to mark the 100th anniversary of NAB Show, it’s worth reflecting on the organization’s success as an innovation diffusion platform. Diversity, availability and quality are key factors that have enabled NAB to become a leader in promoting the broadcasting industry.

NAB Show CentennialThe theory of innovation diffusion describes how new innovations are adopted and spread through society over time. It is observed that the rate of adoption of new innovations tends to follow a bell-shaped curve, with a small number of innovators adopting the innovation first, followed by a larger number of early adopters, then the early majority, the late majority and finally the laggards.

According to Everett M. Rogers’ book “Diffusion of Innovations,” the rate of adoption of new innovations is influenced by a number of factors, including the perceived relative advantage of the innovation, its compatibility with existing practices and values, the complexity of the innovation, its trialability and its observability. For example, innovations that are perceived to have a clear advantage over existing technologies, that are easy to use and understand and that can be tested before adoption tend to be adopted more quickly.

Another theoretical framework that is relevant to NAB’s success is Shannon’s channel capacity theorem. This theorem describes the maximum amount of information that can be transmitted over a communication channel with a given bandwidth and signal-to-noise ratio. It suggests that the amount of information that can be transmitted over a communication channel depends on the diversity, availability and quality of the channel.

In the case of innovation diffusion, the communication channels include advertising, word-of-mouth, media coverage and trade shows. By providing clear and concise information about new innovations and their benefits, NAB provides comprehensive platforms to enhance the quality and availability of information and address perceived barriers to adoption. By tailoring the information to the specific needs and preferences of each stage of the adoption curve, NAB takes a diverse approach to innovation diffusion through a variety of online forums and face to face meetings that support the broadcasting industry and promotes the adoption of new technologies beyond it.

Overall, NAB’s success in promoting innovation can be attributed to a range of theoretical frameworks, including the theory of innovation diffusion and Shannon’s channel capacity theorem, as well as practical strategies such as trade shows, media coverage, targeted advertising campaigns and word-of-mouth. By applying these principles and techniques, NAB and the participants have effectively promoted the adoption of new technologies and support the broadcasting industry’s continued growth and development.