The Good and Bad of Early Tech Adoption

Adopting technology can leave a small business owner with a lot of questions.

Dear Early Adopters (EARADS),
I am writing to you to ask if you have found your obsession with the latest and greatest in technology to be a hindrance or a help. You see, I too am something of an EARAD myself and I find that often times I am jumping through hoops in an effort to get my technology to work seamlessly with the hum drum tech that has already saturated the market. This can lead to an overall loss of productivity.
How about all the cutting edge gadgetry that never ends up making it to the main stream? I have a sizable stack of tech oddities that were going to be, “the future”, that ended up with underwhelming public acceptance and eventual obsolescence.
Last month we looked at some of the challenges associated with holding on to technology for too long. This month we are going to shift the focus to the opposite end of the spectrum. What pitfalls do you have to look out for with adopting new technology too quickly?
Consumer Goods in a Business Setting:
While the technological lines between work and play have blurred significantly over the last decade, this is still an area where some foresight can help mitigate interoperability obstacles. To put it simply, the really “cool” gadget that you just bought might not work all that well with your business network. There was a time when IT Directors cringed at the thought of an iPhone or Android device entering the work world. Even today, the rapid introduction of the iPad brings challenges and some frustration too. While it is great to be the first kid on the block with the new gadget, it is worth talking to your trusted IT advisor if you plan on bringing this tech into your work environment. At a minimum your advisor should be able to help you set proper expectations for integration and performance.
EARADS in the Business (the “should we wait for service pack one syndrome”):
A new operating system or software update has just been released and you want to get your hands on it fast because you have heard of all the new features that are going to change your life.
A new piece of hardware promised increased performance that is going to put you ahead of your competition.
While I am certainly no fan of hanging on to equipment too long, I am also not a great proponent of jumping into the latest and greatest until some thorough testing and planning has been achieved. If this is an item to use exclusively for your personal entertainment then you can be a bit more cavalier (although you may be pulling your hair out trying to integrate your new HD Movie Thing-a-ma-jig to your old TV). In the workplace it is important to read up on the reviews and general “buzz” around a new release. With the social aspect of the web it is easier than ever to find out what people really think about the overall performance of a new product. As always, think of how this new tech will fit in with your existing infrastructure. Your business network is much more like an orchestra then a solo artist. Having a few “stand out” musicians is great as long as they can perform in a way that compliments the overall composition.
Have a plan. Spontaneous purchasing of cutting edge technology tends to lead to hours of configuration and integration nightmares. If you are technically inclined this will likely result in weekend and evening hours saying things to your spouse like, “I think I almost have this figured out. Just a couple of more minutes”. If you are not so inclined then be prepared to take out your checkbook.
The fact of the matter is that some items will “never” completely work hand in hand with others… and that’s ok. This is part of the excitement of moving forward into the next generation of devices. The question is, did you know that when you bought it? Don’t be swayed by the hip, cool, young salesmen to buy the latest device without asking some basic questions about integration. As long as you know what to expect when you get this new device to your home or office then you can be a satisfied EARAD… until the next device comes out.


About Robert Patterson

Robb Patterson is a guru of technology and a leading consultant to small and medium sized businesses for many years. He's founder of the NY Small Business Server Meetup Group and Business Development Manager for Progressive Computing. Robb loves all things tech and fun.