Focus on Immediate Benefits
Are there certain types of technologies companies are more inclined to experiment with?
There are probably three things that have the greatest chance of boosting adoption. The first is, it has an obvious measurable benefit--something that you can look at and it does actually work if you put it in a spreadsheet. The more obvious the benefit, the more likely it is to be adopted quickly.
The second thing is, the more the technology is a modular technology and doesn't have all sorts of unpredictable interactions with the rest of the systems that are deployed, the easier it is for it to find a foothold in an enterprise.
The third is, the clearer it is that the technology will help the end user do what they're already trying to get done, the more quickly it can be adopted. For example, think about the difference between basic instant messaging and cloud computing. Instant messaging makes it easier for people to communicate in ways they were already trying to do. For cloud computing, an end user can imagine what the benefit will be, but you can also imagine all kinds of headaches as well. So for a user, it's less obvious if this is something you've been clamoring for, whereas with instant messaging or unified communications, it's just clear from a user perspective.
So how do CIOs best sell the executive suite on a new technology? What do executives need to hear?
Two things. Executives need to hear the immediate benefit of the technology, Even if it's just a cover story and you think there will be a longer-term impact. In the era of belt-tightening, it's impossible to sell people on something they can't touch and feel immediately.
The more you can have your case be on tangible results--as opposed to promises--the easier the case will be. Those results can come from running small scale tests, where you try the system among a small group away from the core business. The more you can take about immediate benefits and immediately demonstrate those results, the easier it'll be.