The Pitfalls of Future Technology

Garry Lee | Chief Executive Officer

I recently wrote a whitepaper about some of the future technologies and how marketing can utilise them, which focused on the positives of marketing and technology working together. Someone responded on twitter (@thinkdanks) that what would be more interesting would be what ones to avoid, which is a very fair question. It set me thinking and originally I thought I’d quickly put together a blog listing maybe three that I thought should be avoided, but as I began working on it, something became clear – in the same way it’s not fair to say all technologies will work for all companies, it’s also unfair to pick out any technology and say categorically “this won’t work”. Some things will work for some, others will not. The real challenge with modern and emerging technologies is not what ones will work, but what will work for you and how to test them without exposing or risking your business.

So, here are three things I’d consider when choosing to use emerging technologies:

Always have a strategy

No one gets more excited than me about using new technologies and maximising the potential of the future (it’s why I wrote the white paper!) but that doesn’t mean going full steam ahead on any technology that catches your eye, which looks cool etc… Whatever you choose, pick it for a reason and ensure it fits into your strategy. All good businesses will have a business strategy, but the best will have a well-defined technology strategy that aligns to this, so any new technologies you look at have to be with the goal of complementing and supporting the business strategy.

Similarly, if you go with a relatively niche concept, understand and plan how it can ultimately integrate into your overall tech stack. The world is full of examples of good tests that have eventually gone nowhere because they will forever stand alone and, ultimately, cannot get further investment.

Test, test and test

Speaking about testing, this should be a no brainer but I always feel I have to make the point – have a plan on how to test a new technology. Have clear goals to prove it works, have a plan of how to prove it can integrate into the business. Show clearly how the tests will prove it contributes to the company strategy.

If you do it, do it properly

One statement I’d advise above all other - avoid emerging technologies if you are not prepared to back them and understand them, otherwise you'll get embarrassed. Embarrassed both internally but also potentially externally. Search online for ‘social media fails’ and you’ll find hundreds of examples of good companies failing in an epic way with social, but it’s no different with emerging technologies. If you don’t understand them fully with someone responsible for both owning and investing in them, you’ll likely fail. So if you really believe in something back it 100%. By all means start small, utilise agile testing environments to play with the tech but once you feel it has serious potential then back it properly. Dedicate people and time to it, ensure you fully think through the end goals and make sure that you have enough time and energy.

This leads me to one final bonus thing to consider – avoid considering too many vendors at once. Most people will be aware of Scott Binkers excellent Landscape Supergraphic that lists 1,876 vendors across 43 categories. This is great in many ways, but one danger that relates closely to this subject of emerging technologies is having the time and energy to devote to each vendor/technology and how they will all eventually tie together.

So, try different things, never be afraid to test – but always have a strategy once you want to start taking things seriously.

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