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"How do I determine if this new technology is for real?"

Michael Bird explains how to navigate new technology waters.
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"How do I determine if this new technology is for real?"

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Michael Bird, president of Spindustry Digital and co-owner of Spindustry Digital, Training and Staffing, shared a few insights recently with the Iowa Assocation of Business and Industry about vetting new technology options. The article appeared as the Embarrassed Executive spotlight in the ABI insert in the Business Record.

Question:

If my employees see one tweet about a new technology, they want to make it our new default enterprise platform. How do I determine if this new technology is for real?

Answer:

As you can imagine as a digital development company, we are inundated with new technologies and employees looking to try something new. On top of that, clients bring their preferences to the table. Contrary to what you might think, however, we are very judicious in taking on a new technology.

Reasons include:

  • Viability of the new technology.
  • Ability of the existing team to support the technology.
  • External support for the technology from the providing company and the community.
  • Costs of the new technology, especially if it includes conversion and mothballing old tech.
  • Dependencies of other systems on the existing technology.
  • Opportunity cost in the form of time and energy vs. other pursuits.

You do, however, want to avoid being the executive that always says no to something new, so here are a few steps to take in validating a new technology and the investment:

  • Ask the employee or sponsor of the new technology for some evidence of its adoption on a national or worldwide scale. Back this up with evidence closer to home by talking to at least two of your peers who might be considering the same technology in your industry or location.
  • Investigation and brochures are great as a start, but consider a training class as a next step. If you can't find any training, consider that a warning sign. If you can do so, getting your team a few days of hands-on time with a new technology allows them to dig in beyond the marketing materials. They may quickly either validate the advantages of the technology or realize it is not right for your organization. Too many times we see companies sign the contract first and then do the training; reverse that thinking.

In person, on site or even a custom training class is more expensive than a book or online course, but is far less expensive than a failed technical conversion and would be a great first substantial step in investing in a new technology.


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