Beware of Technology Congestion
Technology Congestion is a not a recent phenomenon but the urgency around Digital Innovation and Digital Transformation has brought it front and center. Technology Congestion is a point in the Digital Journey where multiple technology initiatives, executed in parallel become entangled with each in a state where none of the initiatives, hampered by inter dependencies, prioritization, and cost, is able to complete, make progress and deliver business value.
Modern Experiences Require Multiple Technologies
Building a consumer driven, customer centric experience that truly delights and moves business KPIs requires several technologies to come together in almost a magical experience. This means that not on boarding and deploying multiple technologies is not an option or possibility. Enterprises have to build competencies in multiple technologies (and they have multiple strategic options to do so) and this can be a daunting task.
Managing Technology Dependencies
Often, an app-centric methodology requires a complete focus on the user and customer’s experience. Delivering that experience can requires technologies that leverage each other or are inter-dependent on each other. Inter-dependencies can be sequential i.e. Technology A is required to be installed and operational before Technology B can be initialized. Inter-dependencies can also be matrixed i.e. a service X might require service Y to be complete and Service Y requires Technology B. Inter-dependencies can also be circular where System M feeds information into System N and System N, in turn, provides feedback to enable System M to iterate and improve.
Innovation To A Screeching Halt
Technology congestion can stall innovation. Sorting out dependencies can delay innovation and new product development and cause the enterprise to become anti-app-centric. The net impact is lost time and energy in technology installation and deployment with less than ideal focus and attention on customer value and user experience. Technology Congestion can sap an enterprise’s energy, breed distrust and cause finger pointing leading to low morale and a fragmented organization.
Avoiding Technology Congestion
Avoiding technology congestion is not impossible but can be daunting. It needs to be carefully and thoughtfully understood and executed by the leadership with accountability driven deep into the organization. In addition, processes need to be setup that can track, highlight and address technology congestion especially when it starts to sap innovation.
The most important activity that an enterprise can do is to ensure that it carefully picks its battles. Instead of stretching itself thin across multiple initiatives and technologies, the choice of technologies and the required breadth should be driven by solutions to the most pressing problems being faced by an enterprise. Technologies that do not have a material impact or impact on the problem should not be selected, no matter how large the hype surrounding the technology or the peer pressure from other enterprises. Technology choices should not be made by technologists in isolation but only in the presence of and driven by business requirements. Projects that target technology upgrade without clear business objectives and KPIs should not be funded.
Communication is key to ensuring that technology congestion is avoided. If it cannot be entirely avoided, communication can ensure that the most severe congestion can be identified and addressed. Communication is required between teams that depend on each other or within teams where individuals depend on each other or between the business stakeholders and the team tasked with solving the problem. Early avoidance and identification of technology congestion can go a long way in ensuring that the teams and enterprises achieve higher levels of agility and efficiency.
At any point in the Digital Journey, enterprises should be aware of their technology stack and its implications on development, engineering, deployment, operations, management, maintenance, upgrade and personnel. Unbounded growth in the technology stack can impose severe, long term costs on the enterprise. Leadership should understand and question the need, drivers and impact of technology choices and ensure that every activity is expected to deliver business value. In addition, enterprises should be vigilant and aware of technology stacks utilized by other enterprises that might be a competitor or a partner or a leader from a different industry. Outside validation and verification can not only help avoid technology congestion but also streamline and clarify the appropriate usage of certain technologies.
Product & Vendor Selection
Another core contributor to technology congestion is the process and evaluation of third party products and vendors. Product and vendor selection should ensure that only products and vendors who aggressively enable integration and orchestration are selected. Vendors and products that impose high costs of maintenance, training and usage should be avoided as they have a direct impact on increasing technology congestion. In addition, vendors and products that do not exhibit best-in-class support that is responsive and efficient or lacks a community or content that can help the enterprise self-serve and course correct should be avoided.
Integration as Core Competency
Enterprises need to develop integration of new, cutting edge technology as a core competency. No enterprise can focus on building technology as the mechanism to keep up-to-date and offer a best-in-class experience. Enterprises should always be on the lookout for new technologies but should be thoughtful in deciding, which of those technologies and how they should be integrated. Integration and planning are key to avoiding technology congestion. As the enterprise becomes adept at identifying complementary technologies to its existing stack and integrated them into the stack, they further reduce the likelihood and impact of technology congestion. Vendors that provide packaged technology with outstanding support can help ensure that the enterprise keeps its eyes on the customer and their experience and does not get distracted by technology.