2 questions to ask yourself before adopting technology

By Richard Harpur

For all the hype, articles and analysis of emerging tech, leaders still struggle to understand the inherent value of the latest tools and solutions as it relates to their organization. Marry this ambiguity with the stark statistic from The Project Management Institute’s 2017 Pulse of the Profession survey, which stated that 1 in 4 of strategic initiatives are considered outright failures.

Today it is more difficult than ever to decide which technologies will help your organization achieve its goals while increasing operational efficiency. There is simply too much technology for any organization master it all, but those who develop a structured approach to technology adoption are more likely to succeed.

Here’s how leaders should evaluate and carefully consider their next technology investment.


How does the technology fit into the big picture?

Reference architecture
If an organization has established a reference architecture, decision makers are far more empowered to make the right choices about new technologies. The Open Group Architecture Framework (TOGAF) provides an enterprise architecture methodology assists in describing any organization’s reference architecture. While a reference architecture can contain multiple levels of detail, having it available can help the organization maintain confidence in its “North Star” and can more easily align technology adoption decisions to an accepted reference point.

Strategic evaluation
Today’s technology decisions cannot be made in isolation; every system is connected directly or indirectly. This shift impacts how IT investments are valued within organizations. Every investment should be evaluated to determine if it’s required for a point solution or part of a wider value for the organization. For those technologies that impact the wider organization, there needs to be more tolerance for return on investment (ROI) and the value IT can bring to the wider organization’s goals.

Setting the lifetime horizon
Conder that every new technology introduced into the enterprise will typically remain in place for a long time. COBOL, programming language introduced in the 1960s, remained in use for decades and some organizations still depend on it today. Therefore, you need to take a long-term view of the technology. Is the it going to be around in 5, 10 and 15 years from today?


How will the technology will be operated, supported and implemented on a day-to-day basis? 

Very few IT investments are isolated point solutions, so it’s important to consider the integration of the new technology with technology that’s already in place. 

Consider the deployment of a new General Ledger system. An organization should consider what interfaces are supported? Are there any standards the system is compatible with? Does the system contain any open source elements and does the system allow modifications by the end user organization? 

Lack of standards and openness can quickly drive an organization into a monopoly arrangement whereby you are limited in the number of vendors who can support and enhance the system. This drives up cost and gives way to vendor lock-in—something agile organizations should avoid.

Using a value framework
Several frameworks exist, such as ValIT, and Value Measuring Methodology (VMM), that attempt to empower decision makers on making better IT investment decisions. Unless the use of these metrics is adopted within the organization and has been widely accepted these frameworks should only be used with caution, ideally utilizing the expertise of a specialist who has experience in the use of such frameworks.

Support, knowledge and skills
Unlike the past, leaders can easily mix the technology stack for project requirements without experiencing much technical difficulty. But the ease with which an organization can implement a new technology depends greatly on teams’ ability to master it, and in turn deliver business impact. 

The wider the technology portfolio an organization has, the greater the number of skills needed. Objectives often accompany the adoption of new technology, but how regularly does the strategy include a plan for ongoing education and training of talent? Learning should be more than informal knowledge sharing: consider enablement through documentation, certifications and a technology learning platform. 

About the author

Richard Harpur is a highly experienced technology leader with a remarkable career ranging from software development, project management through to C-level roles as CEO, CIO, and CISO. Richard is highly rated and ranked in Ireland's top 100 CIOs. As an author for Pluralsight - a leader in online training for technology professionals - Richard's courses are highly-rated in the Pluralsight library and focus on teaching critical skills in cybersecurity including ISO27001 and Ransomware. As a Certified Information Security Manager (CISM) Richard is ideally positioned and passionate about sharing his extensive knowledge and experience to empower others to be successful. Richard also writes extensively on technology and security leadership and regularly speaks at conferences. When he is not writing for his blog Richard enjoys hiking with his wife and 4 children in County Kerry, the tourist capital of Ireland. You can reach Richard on twitter @rharpur.