Technology trends can be dizzying to keep track of. One day, buzz is circulating about a hot new communication technology; the next, it's been replaced by a promising new contender. The rate of disruption seems progressively more rapid than it was just a few short years ago. On top of that, the sheer number of communication channels that customers and business partners expect a company and its employees to proficiently use seems to have multiplied as well.
When it comes to adopting new technology, what's a business to do? Leading adopters face risks when jumping in headfirst, while laggards could miss out on game-changing business opportunities — or worse, find themselves at a competitive disadvantage before they even realize what happened. Here are some factors enterprises should consider when deciding whether to take the plunge:
The Technology Maturity Cycle
Technology tends to follow a predictable cycle as it matures in the market. Industry analysts have created various models to track a technology solution's journey along this path. One of the most notable ones is Gartner's Hype Cycle. According to Gartner, it all begins with an innovation trigger in which a hot new technology idea is conceived and attracts glowing early press. Expectations surrounding this emerging solution heighten until they reach a peak of inflation, with media coverage chronicling early success stories and likely a few failures. At this point, some businesses that see a promising opportunity may choose to invest in the technology. More cautious companies will remain on the sidelines as observers.
After this point, most disruptive technology startups hit a bump in the road. During this time, the gap between expectations and reality regarding their products becomes more clear. Tech startups navigating this terrain may successfully adapt and continue to attract investments or may fail to properly pivot and drop out of the market altogether. Those that continue will hopefully reach what Gartner calls the "Slope of Enlightenment," at which point a critical mass of potential customers begins to understand the ways in which the product could be successfully applied at their companies.
Finally, at the "Plateau of Productivity," mainstream adoption begins to take shape, and even cautious companies appreciate how they could benefit from the technology. At this stage, the technology is considered mature and viable for businesses of most types.
The Risk-Tolerant Approach to Technology Adoption
An enterprise's decision whether to adopt new communication technology is often guided by the company's attitude toward risk. A business that is comfortable taking a calculated risk, all while fully understanding the project could fail, may stand to reap the rewards from its strategic choice — particularly while its competitors assume a more cautious posture. An innovation-friendly company may also experiment with the technology in a pilot project before making the call on whether company-wide adoption is feasible.
One aspect of technology disruption to keep in mind is that on a macro level, new waves of technological innovation have arrived at successively more strategic levels. Whereas past technology solutions streamlined business processes and made them more proficient by automating time-consuming tasks, recent arrivals such as business cloud services have the potential to position a company well for future growth by offering scalability and mobility that would not have been possible before. Businesses that keep up with technological innovation may enjoy even greater business advantages than in the past.
The Cautious Approach to Technology Adoption
Some enterprises are risk-averse. They may simply be this way by nature, or they may be at a stage in their own evolution as a company in which the rate of change is already challenging and feel they must carefully manage change within their organization. In such cases, they'll likely insist on seeing evidence that a disruptive new technology is truly viable before committing to an investment.
Companies with this approach to risk will consume all the industry analysis available on the technology in order to develop confidence they are making a wise, fully informed decision. They may also feel that it is important to consider the ecosystem in which that technology lives, including resellers and service providers, and whether it can deliver the implementation support and overall quality of customer service their company requires.
This stance offers some potential benefits. Cautious enterprises are less likely to suffer painful and costly implementation failures as a result of their careful approaches. However, if they wait too long to incorporate game-changing innovations, they could lose a competitive edge and find themselves struggling to keep up with industry players that have leapfrogged past them.
Deciding When to Adopt New Technology
Deciding whether to adopt a promising new form of communication technology is not a one-size-fits-all scenario. For example, a business that employs a significant percentage of employees that can collaborate remotely may choose to become a virtual company, while a business whose model depends on staff being present in a brick-and-mortar office may choose to hold off on going virtual. The decision should be informed by a company's approach to risk management, its comfort level with technological change, and the unique risks and benefits of the technology itself.
Amid the hype, it's important to remember that technology adoption is rarely successful unless it's managed strategically. Before committing to a new product, a business must clearly understand the goals it hopes to achieve with the new technology and have a determined outcome in mind, along with a method for evaluating success. With an understanding of these factors in mind, an enterprise can decide when to try a promising new solution.
Contact Vonage Business to learn more about how to make the switch to cloud-based communications.