There is a technology trap that many companies fall into. In their zeal to catch up or get ahead of rapidly changing technology, they reach for the latest available technology—the “state of the art.” This happens often in Information Technology because of its pervasive and rapidly changing nature. But the lure of being “state of the art” also lurks in most technology choices. The better approach? Choose the “state of your need.”
Though some technologies evolve rapidly and demand fast adoption—therein lies the trap. Until they move up the product lifecycle curve into a more stable level, there are “bugs.” The bugs might be undetected flaws, a misapplication of an early stage of the technology, or they could even be due to simply overreaching.
Reading e-books on an iPhone is possible, for example, but it isn't an ideal e-reading experience. The Kindle, Nook and iPad were developed and are much better. All e-readers have limitations. Of the millions of books, some are not ideal for electronic readers, and many are not available via libraries—not yet anyway.
In a corporate/business setting, network security is still a risk. Sure, carrying a 1-pound tablet with electronic document files nicely replaces a backbreaking briefcase...until the battery runs low. Being on ubiquitous Wi-Fi networks makes downloading and transferring files speedy and easy, but how secure is it?
Corporate espionage, spyware, viruses and theft via “social engineering” (pretending to be someone they are not) are only a few risks. So is losing an electronic device that is not password protected. Twitter is great fun, but can also be a great danger. One hundred and forty characters typed on a smart phone in a bar can accidentally give away confidential information. No one knows how to “secure” against thoughtless tweets, or Facebook posts.
One of the most challenging technology risks is the impact of corporate group think. This is the “herd mentality” in which many companies choose the current, fashionable, new software, hardware or network. This is done in spite of it being more costly, less developed, more “bug-filled” and thus riskier. No matter, the leading edge company must have the latest and greatest solution, whether it meets the company’s true needs or not. It is “the thing to do.”
A better approach is to find the system, and/or the technology that fits the “state of your need.” There are many exciting technologies: Nano-technologies, 3D TV, Artificial Intelligence, voice recognition systems, GPS locators/mapping, advanced RFID, biometric security, and constantly changing computing, communications and portable electronics.
Apple’s Siri iPhone 4S app has great potential. But it is still new and developing, and cannot replace the simple act of entering the exact query into a Google search field. Siri misunderstands words and phrases, and cannot seem to find the right data source to provide some answers. It would be foolish to abandon older, more reliable and proven search methods for this new “bleeding edge” app—and yet that is equivalent to what many companies do.
What to do?
Figure out what is possible, using all of the latest, greatest technologies in your field. Then figure out which of them you need—the ones that are mission critical. Finally, choose one that meets your needs although it might be a generation behind the bleeding edge, but is proven, reliable and well understood. This is a much safer, more pragmatic approach.