With the vast and growing number of technology vendors out there, how are you supposed to stay ahead of the curve? You’re keeping your ear to the ground, asking smart questions, and doing a lot of homework, but with the sheer quantity of emerging technologies—each with its own list of unpronounceable features—it can all be a bit overwhelming.
We asked Kentico solution partners what they think should be your top considerations when evaluating new technology.
Keep the Business at the Core of the Decision
Brecksville, Ohio-based CodeSummit Director of Sales and Marketing, Jeff Mihalich, recommends taking the focus off technology and placing it on the problem you’re trying to solve. “You don’t need a particular technology. You need to solve a business problem. If the technology helps, that’s a reason to buy it.”
Your digital transformation isn’t all about the technology. It’s actually about ameliorating company processes. He warns off choosing trending technology on the strength of its popularity: “If it’s something you just feel you need to bring in because everybody else is using it, then that’s probably not a good business case for it.”
Vince Mayfield, CEO at Fort Walton Beach, Florida-based Bit-Wizards agrees: “It’s about what kind of results you can achieve for the business.”
Know Where the Technology Really Matters
“I think the amount of technology is going to be incredible,” says Brian McKeiver, Solution Architect at Allendale, Michigan-based BizStream looking forward. “A lot of it will be API-first … leveraging new techniques and different channels.”
He sees a bright multichannel, data-driven future where a company’s online marketing solution collects user information from various real-time feeds; truly reflecting the real wishes of the customer.
“Maybe you need to make a native mobile app, a smart watch app, as well as a website that's responsive on a mobile phone,” McKeiver continues, “Having data that's structured and available to you, to be able to build on whatever platform, whatever front end technology—that's where the future is going to be.”
“It won't be about ‘am I picking this brand of solution versus this?’, it'll be ‘I have an API that needs this kind of data and I'm going to join it with another API that provides me personalization information, maybe pull something out of our CRM, and bring that into some sort of a super-feed … and really serve customers in much better way than they do today.’ So I'm pretty excited about where it's going to be in five years.”
Vince Mayfield, CEO at Bit-Wizards, noted, “It used to be in marketing that you threw some stuff up on the wall and hopefully you had good data behind it. But now, we’ve got some awesome data systems interpreting and analyzing that data.”
Change Is Scary, Expect Resistance
A typically overlooked consideration is that of the resistance to change you’ll likely encounter from people who have to use the software you choose. While the change you are introducing is going to benefit them all in the long run, you’re asking them to step out of their comfort zone and to learn new skills to be qualified to do their current job.
A good way of alleviating the fear is having senior management stand firmly behind the new software and processes from the very beginning. It sends a message to the rest of the company that the change is a positive strategic step that will keep (or promote) the company ahead of the competition and move the business forward.
Take Your Time
You must remember that digital transformation is not about sticking Band-Aids on surface symptoms, but repairing and ameliorating the company at its very core. It should consist of a strategic series of drives designed to improve business agility on all levels and get you closer to your audience than ever before.
Cost is always a major consideration when bringing in new technology, but don’t underestimate other things like the time needed to complete the migration process, to make technological adjustments and business-specific customizations, as well as to train people in how to use it. As Mayfield says, “The reason you bring a partner in is to cut some of that learning curve.”
Once you have chosen your technology, take things slow. Mihalich says, “See if you can bite it off in small chunks. Don’t try to throw all these cutting-edge technologies into one basket, because you’ll probably end up failing and not doing what you need to do, which is sell your products and services.”
Stay Abreast Of What Is Out There
It’s important to get your ear to the ground. Keep yourself informed. Chat with your customers, vendors, and users regularly. Keep an eye on analysts and editor’s reviews and opinions—even if you’re not yet looking at a technology move. And if you are, make sure you get the informed and in-depth opinion from someone closer to the technology, like a solution partner.
Yes, the digital marketplace is moving faster than seems possible, but with the right focus, the right information, and a realistic context, your digital transformation could be just another plain sailing milestone on the path to success.