Companies used to spend years clarifying business requirements before they would even think of launching new software. Today, cheaper cloud-based apps mean that implementation decisions are made on the fly — and there’s no going back.

Facebook Inc. founder Mark Zuckerberg nicely summarized a modern philosophy about technology innovation when he spoke about the need to “move fast and break things.” Increasingly, that same mindset appears to drive how companies implement new technologies as well. And this phenomenon stretches beyond Silicon Valley.

For decades, companies required their IT teams to identify, model, and validate business requirements before writing a line of code or adopting a new technology platform, product, or service. Today, that approach seems almost quaint. Companies no longer build giant flowcharts, analyze tasks, or model business requirements in advance of deploying new technology. They just pilot and adopt — often before they have a clear idea of the business problem they’re trying to solve. Once, this launch-first mentality would have been considered heresy. Yet it has become the norm, driven by the accelerating pace of technology change, the fear of losing market share to disruptive new players, and the ease with which new technologies can be implemented through cloud-based delivery. This is a challenging environment, particularly for tradition-bound organizations. But it’s the new reality and CIOs must adapt, or they risk permanently falling behind the competition.

As part of a larger study on changes in technology implementation, my team spent two years collecting survey and interview data about the evolving relationship between business and technology. We talked to people in business roles and technology roles at companies across a range of industries. The most significant finding was the rapid death of detailed requirements analysis and modeling. Among survey respondents, 71% believed that technology can be deployed without a specific problem in mind. Just one-third said they have a clearly defined process for the adoption of emerging technology. Perhaps most surprising, half of the respondents described their pilot initiatives — small-scale, low-cost, rapid testing of new technology — as “purely experimental,” with no requirements analysis at all.

We heard a consistent theme. As one business process manager at a Fortune 100 pharmaceutical company put it, “We’ve abandoned the strict ‘requirements-first, technology-second’ adoption process, whatever that really means. Why? Because we want to stay agile and competitive and want to leverage new technologies. Gathering requirements takes forever and hasn’t made our past projects more successful.