by Mitch Bryant
It’s critical that your business continually leverages IT solutions to provide as sound of an ROI as advanced technology allows. New tech advances not only affect the way you do business but they will shape the way you’ll do business in the future.
At the same time, new IT support investments must be leveraged to ensure your company maintains the edge to stay competitive. The IT department needs to weigh all purchases to ensure that the proper usage of any new technology falls within pre-established guidelines and or polices.
Each purchase should provide as many of the following basic elements as possible:
Reduced operational overhead cost
Improved IT infrastructure
Alignment of business practices and strategies
Higher customer satisfaction (both internally and externally)
Of course, new introductions of technology into a system come with a degree of risk. That’s why one IT leader shies away from what’s considered cutting-edge technology.
Kathy J. Markham, VP of IS planning & architecture at Kindred Healthcare, explains that while her department doesn’t employ cutting-edge technology in a production mode, it does stay current with new hardware technology.
“Pursuing cutting-edge technology would mean that we are willing to risk the usual instability and interoperability problems…. Frankly, we can’t afford to jeopardize our production environment, which is critical to business performance, nor do we have the resources to exhaustively test such scenarios,” she said. She added that she relies on industry experience to overcome the early difficulties of cutting-edge solutions.
Staying current but avoiding risks
When it comes to bringing new technologies in-house, CIOs first need to examine several project-related questions and technology issues:
What are the pros and cons of purchasing a new application vs. modifying a current tool?
Will it be a standalone or integrated technology, and what are the implications of this status?
Should it be implemented in-house or with external support, and what does that mean for cost and staffing?
In addition, issues such as programming requirements, integration hurdles, and benefits in the short and long term must be evaluated. The key to avoiding risks is looking before you leap into a new technology.
“New technology should be routinely investigated and tested as it becomes generally available. It should not be employed in production environments until such time as the marketplace has ‘blessed’ its stability and interoperability,” said Markham. A product vendor’s stability also requires examination, she noted.
“New technology may be innovating and exciting; that is not sufficient reason to embrace it. Equally important, if not more, is determining whether the company is standing behind the product. If the company is poorly positioned to introduce and support the new technology, it is not worth the risk,” she said.
New technology, she said, must also be considered in the context of finding necessary skills to support the products. “If products are too ‘niche,’ then the best technology can falter due to lack of trained resources.”
Nothing worthwhile comes easy
The introduction of new technology brings with it new stress factors not only on the IT department but the end users, customers, and business managers. As well as identifying all the issues related to the introduction of a new technology into your current system, it is very important to identify the stress factors that can make or break the project. This aspect must be factored into the overall potential success of any project, because the most successfully integrated new technology must ultimately work for the end user that will use it every day.