Adopting New Technology – When to lead and when to follow

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Adopting New Technology – When to lead and when to follow

For any success-hungry business, keeping up with and adopting new technologies is essential for getting ahead of the competition.

A new technology update can potentially revolutionise your business, whether by streamlining emails or second guessing your customer’s buying habits.

A new technology update can potentially revolutionise your business, whether by streamlining emails or second guessing your customer’s buying habits.

In fact, there are many ways adopting new technology can help save and make you time and money by aiding communication, efficiency, speed and processes.

Microsoft HoloLense

A 2014 study from Harvard Business School showed that tech pioneers (businesses who adopt new technologies first) have a much healthier revenue growth and market position than those who don’t.

These pioneer businesses see twice the growth of ‘follower’ companies and three times the growth of ‘cautious’ companies – those who invest when benefits are proven and those who invest when technology is established, respectively.


It has also been shown that companies that evolve too slowly, or even not at all, risk becoming irrelevant before eventually collapsing.

Speaking in 2014 Martin Bean, the Vice-Chancellor of The Open University, gave the example of Kodak as a business that folded after refusing to adapt.

He said: “The onset of technology is one of the most significant forces we have ever experienced and we can’t expect [people] to engage in the traditional model – passive, obedient, one-dimensional – just because that’s the way we’ve always done it.”

He outlined how failure to keep up with a changing environment will ‘not only be a missed opportunity but worse [lead to a company becoming] irrelevant and even irresponsible.’

However, despite common consensus advocating the early adoption of new technologies, it can be tricky to spot the best time for you and your business.

Adopt too soon and you run the risk of investing in a technology that’s filled with bugs, not up to scratch or immediately usurped by another far more superior model – ending up costing you far more than if you hadn’t invested at all.

Google Glass

It can also be a big financial hit as the implementation of a new system costs more than just the initial investment – you will have to establish a roll out plan (to eliminate changeover glitches) as well as have a monitoring system in place to assess its value.

So if you don’t have a generous budget that can buffer you from the risks early adoption it may be a good idea to adopt late and let other people test the water first, though if you do take this option your competitors may already have stolen your customers and market share.

Sectors where security is off the utmost importance (such as finance or healthcare) may also benefit from adopting later on to ensure a minimal risk of data breaches.

It is therefore important to really assess where your business needs improvement, the pros and cons of adopting a new technology and what is most important to you, so you can make the right decision at the right time.

For example, anticipatory computing or predictive intelligence (when your smartphone knows when traffic is bad so suggests changing a meeting around) can streamline calendar management and potentially cut costs and improve productivity but it relies on having access to all your personal data leading to potential security breaches.

If security is more important to you than productivity, it will pay to wait. Then you need to ask yourself where is your business currently falling down? Where does it need innovation?

Establishing how efficient your staff, machinery and IT systems are will help you work out which area should be adopting new technology first.

If you don’t already have a functional system in place, there are solutions available from providers such as 

ClickSoftware. When it comes to work force management, investing in the right tools here can help you be more efficient, make the right decisions, reduce your costs and increase your profits. Even if you have tools in place, it’s worth considering how an alternative solution could help.

However, no matter when you choose to adopt a new technology, the most important thing is that you do, else risk not having the privilege of deciding.

As a 2008 report from Harvard Business School by Comin and Hobijn found: ‘To compete in today’s global economy, countries must learn how to quickly leverage new technologies to ensure that their workforce’s remain competitive.’

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