social-cloud
Business Management

SoCloMoDa: Don't Just Follow the Crowd

It seems like every week we’re reading about the next big technology trend that is going to take the world by storm. Companies claim to be the first to do something, and promise their newest solution is just what your organization needs to go straight to the top. And if everyone else is doing it, you might as well too… right?

Not exactly. Almost everyone in the technology field has heard of Geoffrey Moore’s observations on the Technology Adoption Life Cycle. Moore believes there is a chasm between the technology enthusiasts and visionaries (those always looking for the newest technology breakthroughs), and the pragmatists (those willing to wait to develop more information on the technology). As you can see, the ones to jump on a technology trend quickly are rarely in the majority.

The truth is, just because the newest trend is gaining steam and it seems like everyone is talking about it doesn’t mean that it’s the right thing for your organization to employ moving forward. This is especially true in the enterprise collaboration space, which has seen a host of new trends pop up this year that people are throwing a lot of weight behind: Cloud, Mobile, Social, and Big Data.

Now don’t get me wrong – these four areas are likely going to become an enormous part of your organization’s business strategy over the next 12 months, so putting a plan together for what your organization needs around each one is imperative. But all organizations are different – just because a new trend is available to you doesn’t mean it’s the right fit, right away. At the end of the day, you need to make decisions that work toward growing your business, not merely to just jump on the first tool that comes your way without properly planning what it means for you.

What works for you?

If your company puts any emphasis on enterprise collaboration, it has probably done some research into Big Data, Cloud, Mobile, and Social, because everyone seems to be talking about those disruptive technology trends. This is great in one respect because there is a lot of valuable discussion out there, but it can also lead to customer confusion because the market is fragmented with many players in each space. Not only do you have to decide if moving in the direction of one of these trends is beneficial to you, but then you must also choose a solution provider that will best suit your needs in the long run.

You don’t want to adopt a new technology just because everyone else is doing it. When researching the new technology – and the vendors who provide it – it’s important to weigh the technology investments your organization has already made against what will be necessary to adopt and integrate the new technology into your existing infrastructure. It shouldn’t just sound like a good idea – it needs to make sense and truly help further your business goals.

At the end of the day, as an enterprise, return on investment (ROI) should be your primary objective. Are you looking to simply improve employee productivity and efficiency? Are you implementing Social to enhance collaboration and get employees talking to each other? Or, are you seeking a tangible ROI, such as an increase in sales numbers due to the implementation of a new mobility plan? Whatever your organizational vision is for the future, you must ensure that the provider you choose works to fit you, not the other way around. Make sure that you’re clear on what your objective is, and how you will define success.

We’re all guilty of the hype. An interesting idea comes out, a blogger tabs it as the next “must have” of the year, and next thing you know we’re all standing in line to be the first ones to have it. But don’t let the hype get in the way of practicality. Remember Apple Maps? It was hyped to be the best map software created when the iPhone 5 launched last year – until users realized it didn’t really work. So what happened when old favorite Google created a Google Maps app for the new iPhone? More than 10 million downloads in less than 48 hours. What’s my point? Sometimes reliability of what’s worked for you in the past is much more valuable than the hype.

Vendor perspective

As vendors who serve our customers, we can’t just feed the hype of a trend in order to sell our solution. That does not do you as the customer justice. Instead, we must focus on your organization’s vision, what solutions you already have in place, and how we leverage those to help you reach your vision.

Another real trend that we see is the emphasis towards Commercial-Off-The-Shelf (COTS) experience, where a prebuilt software solution from a third-party vendor can be purchased, leased, or licensed to the public. We as vendors need to ensure that whatever we build is as close to a COTS experience as possible. Our customers don’t want to live with customized code for the rest of their lives, and when you cobble together a Frankenstein solution, it’s difficult to maintain going forward. One of the biggest struggles for you as a customer is making sure you have a cohesive solution that is also viable going forward.  

And yes, there is some merit to trying out multiple vendor point solutions to put together an integrated solution that works just right for your organization.  But we have seen all too often that the multiple downloads/installs, multiple user interfaces, multiple training sets, and multiple support contracts and service experiences can, in the end, lead to a much costlier reality.  Thus picking the right partner, one that focuses on integration, one possessing long-term viability and vision, and one that works with you to realize true ROI instead of throwing the latest buzz words or technology fashion at you, should be the one that deserves more of your due diligence.

Remember that not all trends last forever, and your organization is set up to be around for the long haul. Make your choices not just because of what’s hot now, but for what will help achieve your vision in the future as well.

 

Dr. Tianyi Jiang is Co-Founder and Co-CEO at AvePoint

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Dr. Tianyi Jiang

Dr. Tianyi Jiang is Co-Founder and Co-CEO at AvePoint

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