Emerging Technology Overload (& what to do about it)

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Emerging Technology Overload

We’ve all seen the hype around emerging technology in 2023 kick a lot of businesses into heat cycles that send ripples across the technology landscape. No doubt the technology de jour is AI and businesses are scrambling to see how its transformative nature can help their customers while sticking it to the competition. While harnessing AI to strengthen businesses and technical resources looks appealing, we have been to this rodeo before. We should approach this emerging technology with equal parts enthusiasm and caution.

Throughout the cloud lifecycle, trends have emerged, faded, or been forgotten about altogether in lieu of the next big thing. Over the last decade we have seen many large organizations moving to the cloud. When done without a roadmap or seasoned guidance many of these enterprises experienced detrimental results. Migrations went sideways, inefficient workloads were deployed, resource sprawl happened and is happening. When not architected with temperance, new technologies can quickly morph from a stress reliever to a source of organizational heartburn. 

Unfortunately for many early adopters the damage was done, and they are still feeling it today. Many large organizations that tried to move “all-in” to the cloud, ended up moving back into a data center. While others adopted a hybrid approach to infrastructure. Presently, in recognition of the massive undertaking that is a migration; CSPs (Cloud Service Providers) have been proactive in providing published white-papers, best practices, and support for organizations migrating to, or building greenfield on their respective cloud platforms. As more and more enterprises adopted a cloud and hybrid cloud plan the more broad the business case for the public cloud became.

As buzzwords become initiatives for business of all sizes, many IT teams are struggling to translate the goals of the company into prudent designs. Make no mistake, this blogpost is not in any way an attempt to dissuade teams or organizations from innovating or trying new technologies. Alternatively, this blogpost is to encourage teams/organizations to pursue these initiatives, but with a plan. To follow is a list of suggestions to employ when looking at a new technology while building a business goal and plan. With the right mindset and foundation in place we can turn a successful experiment into a successful implementation.

Business-case approaches are inherently biased against emerging technologies.

When approaching a new emerging technology through a lens of budget-centric models, certain benefits can be overlooked. Learning gains, and spillover effects are clear results of an emerging technology pilot. Teams learn by building and doing, and emerging breakthroughs and solutions that may not work for the initial pilot can generate solutions to other verticals, or even for workloads that hadn’t been considered before. We tend to find that using the standard business case in respect to pilot workloads often results in the experiments not yielding quantifiable results.

Understand how the technology can be applied to solve a business problem.

The following steps have been gleaned from Foghorn’s 15 years of being on the front line of every new cloud development. To follow are 5 steps to help organizations and teams build out a successful adoption plan for emerging technologies:

1. Create a governance structure for the exploration of emerging technologies.

  • Keep it focused. Arming the initiative with a business problem that the technology could possibly solve is the first, and most important step. Pushing the initiative “far-and-wide” causes resources and know-how to be spread too thin, and results/experiences become siloed.

2. Begin with a use case, but keep the business case at the forefront.

  • Business cases look for ROI, doing this too early in the process can create a missed opportunity. It’s virtually impossible to answer the question before the technology is piloted.
  • Alternatively, looking for business cases that result from the use case success has yielded more meaningful and profitable results.

3. Select your partner strategically.

  • Many technology partners offer technology that while attractive, doesn’t necessarily address the problem or use-case in a meaningful way.
  • Seek out partners that aim to create strategic opportunities to facilitate closer interaction, and have the potential to serve the entire organization.

4. Iterate on the use case to evolve the business case.

  • Use case to business case isn’t linear. Collaboration and negotiation is required between business decision makers and technology teams.
  • Be prepared to modify the implementation and economic viability across different facets of the business.

5. Slow and steady scaling.

  • It’s widely known that when a technology reaches operability its benefits soon outweigh the costs. It is at that point that scaling can be considered.
  • Due to the rapid nature of development with disruptive/emerging technologies, it’s important to keep your deployments focused and tuned. The best way to deliver ROI is to keep everyone on track to solve the business problem, and satisfy the use case without constantly feeling behind the curve of innovation. If the business and use case are seeing satisfactory results in current efforts, introducing new variables obscures the development.

Disruptive innovation and emerging technologies bring about a large swath of emotions, and compulsions that in many cases compel us to react immediately. We see this in markets throughout the world. The innovation industry routinely updates their buzzwords, and offers new talking points to put themselves in front of the figurative boulder that the new technologies stand to roll over. However, just as in lessons past: slow-and-steady, with rational approaches tend to win the day.