13 Aug Technology cycles from advantage to necessity to disadvantage
In the last couple years, many organizations tried to stretch the serviceability of their technology infrastructure. Rather than spending money to upgrade, they figured they could make do with what they had in place. Has that hesitation to upgrade technology hurt their viability and overall competitiveness? I believe it has.
There is a continual cycle for organizational competitiveness. In this cycle, you move from competitive advantage to competitive necessity to competitive disadvantage depending on where you are with the application of technology to the organization.
In order to keep their own jobs, many CIOs and CTOs went along with huge cuts to their areas without arguing very much with management. The results are now starting to show. Many organizations are behind even though their leaders will try to justify where they are.
I wrote a white paper on “Aiming For Quality in Technology Investments” that was published almost nine years ago. It discussed continuous technology upgrading. This was used in executive master’s courses as well as with clients to try to establish an objective framework around something that is actually very subjective.
Target: Revolutionary Gadgets That Eventually Time Out
No matter what your organization does, it probably uses technology at various levels to get the job done. This technology (no matter what it is) eventually becomes obsolete and has to be replaced. If you don’t replace obsolete technology, you lose competitiveness. As I’ve said so many times before, leading-edge companies do not maintain their position using trailing-edge technologies.
Whether it is customer service and dealing with taking orders or supply chain management and dealing with goods and services from vendors, there are many software applications and phone systems that deal with all operational aspects of an organization. These must be checked to see if they are still relevant.
There is a model that I have used for two decades to describe the continuous movement of technology from its embryonic stage to its obsolete stage of use. The target map of technology focuses on the five levels of technology within the organization.
The five levels of technology are embryonic, proven, accepted, safe and obsolete. No matter what you implement, it will work its way through these five stages from being state-of-the-art technology to obsolete within various timeframes. When it is obsolete, you are wasting money trying to maintain it. You are also at a competitive disadvantage trying to maintain obsolete systems.
The newer the technology, the higher the risk is to implement it. Competitive advantage comes with newer technology. As the technology grows older, the competitive advantage weakens to a point where it becomes a competitive disadvantage to continue using old technology. This is where many organizations are if you look at the old rule of thumb that says you should be changing out technology every two to three years.
A DART is nothing more than a dedicated applied resource with timeframes. A DART could be a system, a person or a monetary resource. As the chart states, IT planning is as easy as throwing a DART at a target. Trying to keep a DART more toward the center of the target gets more competitive advantage and is an effective utilization of resources.
Most organizations should be looking closely at what they have in place today.
A technology resource assessment should be done to review an organization’s infrastructure effectiveness. There should be an outside perspective that doesn’t have organizational or cultural bias when reviewing the organization. Only then will organizations start to get a better idea of where to spend more resources to maximize their investments. What should you be replacing?
Carlinism: You must upgrade technology. If you don’t, your organization becomes irrelevant.
James Carlini is an adjunct professor at Northwestern University. He is also president of Carlini & Associates. Carlini can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 773-370-1888. Check out his blog at http://www.carliniscomments.com.
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