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Today’s technologies can do incredible things, but the latest innovations can also be complex, confusing and costly. That may leave you feeling like you want and need to implement more tech yet wondering how.
If you think you’re behind the times, know that you’re not alone. According to a PointSource survey, most of the 679 decision makers who responded said they’re not using cutting-edge tech like blockchain or AI right now. In addition, the survey found that two-thirds of respondents were still in the discovery phase or considering vendors to usher in the use of these emerging tech tools.
With so many different types of hardware and software to choose from, making the business case for one technology over the others isn’t easy. Beyond that, new tech raises tricky questions about ROI, long-term costs, data security issues and many more.
Given how difficult it is to add new tech and how damaging it is to make the wrong choice, it’s tempting to dismiss the latest innovations and hold off on any new technology until it reaches mainstream status. But it doesn’t take a tech evangelist to see that the future of business is digital. And as the saying goes, you either evolve or die.
As you plan to make additions to your own digital toolkit, rely on these best practices for selecting and incorporating new tech:
1. Anoint one employee your emerging tech advocate.
Adaptability is a major asset in business, but many companies are inherently resistant to change. When you need to implement a new technology, though, that mindset simply won’t fly. “Develop a strategy to ensure the company can attract, develop or partner to have the right team to adopt the technology,” advises Isaac Kunkel, senior vice president of consulting services for the blockchain developer Chainyard. “This is particularly important in today’s tight job market where technology skills, especially emerging tech, are in high demand.”
If incorporating technology is truly your priority, take it a step further and make it someone’s primary responsibility. Task that person with scouting new technologies, forming relationships with vendors and explaining the value of the technologies under consideration to decision makers in the organization. Having a staff member primarily responsible for considering new tech solutions is a big commitment, but it’s worth it. Having an emerging technology advocate on staff ensures your company is always thinking about what comes next.
2. Align new tech solutions with your goals.
Focus on understanding how a tech solution impacts your company’s top priorities, whether that’s luring new customers, moving into new markets, cutting costs or what have you. For example, when eBay was looking to attract more customers, it partnered with Australian retailer Myer to give customers the ability to browse Myer’s products using VR technology. Ultimately, the point of implementing new tech is to do things better, not just differently.
Take note of how companies in your industry have implemented the tech solutions you’re considering. And discuss that same tech with vendors and other industry experts. Select technologies that serve your goals, even if doing so cannibalizes part of your current products and services. If you want to see what happens when a company doesn’t embrace new tech in favor of existing business products and practices, just look to Blockbuster. The video-rental chain opted for business as usual rather than getting on board the streaming services train (and we all know how that turned out).
3. Help your team members, new and old, embrace new tech.
When you find a tech solution that promises to push your company toward its goals, it can be tempting to jump in head first. While we’ve already established that foot-dragging is bad, you should also avoid an impulse to rush. Your adoption of new technology should be well-conceived and methodical in order for it to be successful. In addition to a well-thought-out implementation process, make sure you offer your team support. That includes training so that everyone knows how to use and get the most value out of the new technologies.
Don’t think of this instruction as a one-and-done task. You’ll need ongoing training to truly make turning to the new technology a habit for your team. To accomplish this, approach training in two steps. First, provide employees training from an external source such as a consultant, the vendor, etc. Second, identify a group of employees who are comfortable using the new solution and encourage them to be available to others on the team when questions arise.
Which is worse: Trying something different and facing some disruptions in your process, or staying exactly the same and sliding slowly into irrelevance? Implementing new technology is undeniably intimidating, but it’s just as undeniably important. The companies that move to act quickly (but carefully) have an excellent shot of getting the right tech in place in the right way.
July 14, 2019 at 07:06AM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs