Seven Ways to Kill Tech Innovation


By Samuel Greengard

Technology innovation is often a key to achieving success and bottom-line results in the digital age. Yet, many organizations and IT departments shoot themselves in the foot. Here are some of the ways they do that:

Listen to too much buzz and vendor hype. It's incredibly easy to get caught up in vendor hype and glowing success stories. Choose a path carefully and know that it provides the flexibility and agility required for today's rapidly changing environment. Base technology buying decisions on business requirements, process improvements and workflow gains rather than specific vendor features.

Ignore the buzz. On the other hand, the best way to become a digital dinosaur is to ignore what's going on in the business world or to adopt the "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" mentality. Today, everything is broken at some point because things are moving at warp speed. Stay current with trends, but temper them with careful analysis.

Leap before looking. Technology and systems don't always work as billed. Spend the necessary time researching, testing and integrating a system before it goes live. But also have a backup or contingency plan in place in case something goes seriously wrong. Today, the consequences of a glitchy or malfunctioning system are severe.

Think about discreet systems rather than the sum of all technologies. In the olden days, applications and systems were islands unto themselves. Today, many of the big gains from digital technology come from the way an organization combines various tools—mobility, social media and big data, for example—to unlock a level of innovation that otherwise wouldn't be possible.

Underfund a project. The best way to ensure that a project will fail is to underfund or understaff it. Too often, IT executives try to have their fingers in everything, but managing too many projects translates into doing none of them well. Choose your battles—and your technology initiatives—and fully commit to them.

If it fails, don't try again. Forget the past! Just because a project didn't fly the first time doesn't mean that IT shouldn't revisit the topic or the technology at a later date. Becoming too risk-adverse actually ratchets up the risk. It's critical to reassess and reevaluate the business environment and technology landscape on a regular basis.

Cling to the old IT model. Traditionally, CIOs and others have pulled the strings on new ideas and technologies. Today, CMOs and other line-of-business executives are making key technology decisions. What's more, recognize that great ideas come from all corners of the organization, so use crowdsourcing and other methods to garner ideas from employees, customers, partners and other stakeholders.