Five questions to consider when trying to figure out which IT innovations to pay attention to versus which to wait out because they might prove to be lemons.
Are you an early adaptor of new technology? Or do you take a wait-and-see attitude?
Business managers see or hear about new hardware and software nearly every day. The challenge is figuring out which IT innovations to invest time in and which to wait out because they might end up being lemons.
In the new Winter 2012 issue of MIT Sloan Management Review, E. Burton Swanson, director of the Information Systems Research Program at the UCLA Anderson School of Management, offers some help with “The Manager’s Guide to IT Innovation Waves.”
Swanson’s guide includes five questions to consider when weighing whether to pursue a technology or pass for now. The questions and his comments are excerpted here:
- Does the technology have more than one name? It’s not a good sign if the industry can’t agree on a name for a new technology. Agreed-on terms are part of what makes a technology workable.
- Is there competition? It’s generally a good sign if there is more than one provider. Even if one vendor dominates the market, the presence of more than one credible contender is often a sign that the category is gaining momentum.
- What does it do? Obviously, don’t buy anything before you’re clear about its purpose. If you keep reading and listening and still don’t quite understand what the technology is supposed to do, chances are good others won’t either.
- What kind of stories are you reading and hearing about it? Beware of a new technology that doesn’t have clear, verifiable success stories attached. Horror stories are also important as a sign of the difficulty if not the ultimate failure of the technology.
- Has anyone made a commitment? Network effects are important in IT. If you don’t hear about others adopting it, or if the news on a vendor’s website about the product seems old, you may already have a loser.