Should you believe the hype on new IT trends?
What decisions would you have made in the past with the knowledge you have today?
I remember many IT predictions that, if ignored, would have saved us millions and probably also would have left a better impression of IT as a whole. It’s the nature of our fast moving industry that often makes us believe that the next new “thing” will help us to compete more aggressively, do things faster and better.
Today, the pressure is more intense than ever. Where we had months to respond to the needs of users a decade ago, we are now expected to act in weeks or even days. And where there is a lot of pressure, there is always the hope that some new product, methodology or technology will help us cope with these demands.
Almost every major change in IT starts as hype, and it’s difficult to pinpoint the moment that becomes something that can really help you.
Below are some pitfalls we should try to avoid. Simple universal truths may help you decide if you should have a serious look at “new stuff” or ignore it for a few more months.
So how do we walk the fine line between a laggard and an early adopter? It depends. If you don’t mind following the leaders in your industry, simply wait six months to a year until others have demonstrated that new technology works. It’s a matter of keeping a close eye on your peers and staying on top of things.
If, however, you feel that your business, competitive pressure, or the economy is forcing you to be a “late early” adopter, you don’t have lot of choices. To avoid many of the uncertainties and high expenses, you need an agile approach that relies heavily on your own employees.
I have recently seen some examples of companies who appointed a small team of people whose single task is to look at new technology, hype and other hot “stuff”.
Don’t just appoint experienced Enterprise IT Architects, but also young and eager people from other areas in IT. They should meet with various stakeholders (the business, trusted IT Vendors) and make sure they attend relevant events. There they will see what’s coming for your industry, so they can think about the technology your company will need in the near future.
Make the team diverse and make sure the vote of the senior architect has the same weight as that from the junior developer. Change at least 20% of the team members every year so there will always be fresh blood and new ideas. Allow them to play and fail, but most of all, make sure they understand their value for your business. And I am almost sure that, if done well, a group like this will save you money too. People from across the company will bring ideas to them instead of playing around with new stuff themselves.
Every business today is a software business, and with today’s pressures, you simply have to do something different. You owe it to your company, your people and to yourself.