When it comes to technology, the only constant is change. Everything, no matter how fresh or innovative it may seem at the time of its release, will eventually be replaced by something faster, edgier, and smarter.
This can present a challenge when you’re trying to solve a business problem, that will leverage technology. How can you determine where a given tool falls along its lifecycle trajectory? How can you predict which of these tools are destined for a long shelf life and which are passing fads?
Before diving headfirst into your new project, do your research and make an informed decision on which technology you should leverage. As a first step, explore university websites and determine which tools are being taught as part of the curriculum in high-level institutions. If students are being trained on how to use a certain piece of technology, odds are, it’s here to stay. The challenge if your selection is sub-optimal is that you could either be picking a technology that is outdated (i.e. you may have difficulty integrating with other systems, and there isn’t much innovation taking place in that space) or you might select a passing fad (i.e. you’ll end up having trouble finding skilled staff who are excited to use those tools). In addition, your business objectives and the supported capability need to be aligned. So, depending on the problem you are trying to solve, whether it’s optimizing your inventory or promotions, you want to ensure that you are selecting the right technology based on the capability and longevity of the solution.
Job listings are also a great resource to leverage. Determine which skills are most sought-after in job postings by the most successful companies. If you look at job postings related to business intelligence reporting you might find tools like Tableau or Power BI, this could suggest that older tools like Crystal Reports are being phased out in favor of fresher web-based technology. The chart below illustrates this trend.
Figure 1. Tableau / Power BI / Crystal Reports
University curricula and job listings will help you narrow the possibilities specific to the domain in which you are interested. Consider tools for data science, which follow a similar trajectory to the chart above. If you look at which technologies are being taught in data science curricula in universities across the country, you will find R, Python, and Hadoop. Upon further analysis, you could see what might be the start of an inflection point for one tool and a continued rise in others. The graph below follows this same trajectory.
Figure 2. R / Python / Hadoop
When faced with the decision of which technology to leverage to solve a business problem, don’t settle for the most familiar or convenient route. For each of the options available to you, take into consideration which technology will promise the longevity your organization requires, and align it with the business problem you are trying to solve. You must be confident that the tools you choose will be supported over the long run, and that you will be able to find and recruit people trained in the use of these tools. If you are willing to risk using a technology that may be short-lived in order to take advantage of a short-term benefit, always have an exit strategy in mind for the remaining options.
By taking these steps, you will have a more holistic understanding of the technology lifecycle and you’ll be able to make a more informed decision on which tools your business should use for future firm initiatives. By leveraging the right technology and eliminating the unknowns surrounding the technology lifecycle, your business will stay ahead of the competition and will see greater long-term success.
Contact us for more information on how your business can better leverage technology to increase revenue and stay ahead of the competition.