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How To Choose The Right Technology For Your Business.

Technology is a key driver of success and provides a solution to many of the challenges faced by businesses today, but how do you choose what the right technology is?

It can certainly be tricky. New technologies are emerging at a whirlwind pace and customers are demanding more than ever. In an age of digital disruption, you can feel overwhelmed just by the sheer number of technology options to choose from.

Looking around at what competitors are doing and chucking the ‘latest technology’ at a problem can be all too tempting, and then what about developing in-house vs outsourcing, upgrading existing systems vs a complete overhaul, off-the-shelf or a full custom development? 

How do you navigate this myriad of questions to decide what the right solution is? We’ll go into far greater detail on each of these points at a later date, but here are some high-level considerations for evaluating the right tech solutions.

Identify The Real Problem

Einstein famously said, “If I had an hour to solve a problem I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and five minutes thinking about solutions.”

Although at odds with the ‘don’t come to me with a problem, come to me with a solution’ mindset, not every problem has an easy solution and it makes it infinitely more difficult if you don’t understand what you’re trying to solve.

We say ‘real problem’ because it can be easy to jump to conclusions and quickly point to visible symptoms rather than the root cause. Developing an effective solution by  addressing symptoms is very difficult and often leads to a band-aid like solution that temporarily masks a problem or even makes it worse.

The old dad joke pops to mind where a patient walks into the office and points to everywhere on their body that hurts. “You’ve got a broken finger,” the doctor replies. 

A number of frameworks and methodologies are out there to help you make that key differentiation. There’s Root Cause Analysis, or the more rudimentary ‘5 Whys’ encourages you to ask “why?” like an inquisitive child until you peel back the problem to its core.

Design sprints, developed by Jake Knapp of Google Ventures, are our preferred method and allow you to break down complex problems and rapidly spin up validated solutions. You can read more about that here.

Link Potential Solutions To Your Strategic Plan

Technology and strategy are largely inseparable. It may sound obvious but any technology has to align with your organisations’ overall strategic goals to have any long-value. 

Start by analysing and more importantly prioritising what you want to achieve as an organisation. These goals will of course differ from business to business but could include increasing marketing share, reducing operational costs or increasing customer engagement.

Using the latter as an example, tech priorities for a B2C could include developing a mobile experience, integrating a live chat function to a platform or better leveraging data for a more tailored experience. Each of these technology pursuits feed the overall goal of increasing customer engagement.

Any investments you make in technology must fit your business and not the other way around.

Set Your Success Criteria

What does success look like and, taking that one step further, how can it be measured? 

Much of this thinking will be covered in a product roadmap, but again can be beneficial to consider on a higher level. Developing success criteria allows you to work backwards when evaluating solutions: you know where you want to be and then assess which technology is going to get you there.

Using KPIs (or our preferred method of OKRs) adds a quantifiable element to remove any questions of “so what?” and help with stakeholder buy-in. Pitching a “customer service platform” has only a fraction of the clout as pitching a “customer service platform that reduces costs by $2 million per annum”.

Once the project is complete, well-defined criteria will allow you to objectively measure the success of your technology decision. 

Will You Need A Technology Provider… Or Partner?

Whether you’re a start-up, scale up or enterprise organisation you are likely to reach a point when you’ll need a reliable technical partner with relevant expertise to keep up with evolving tech and customer needs.

It’s a topic we’ve spoken about before and one we will again in far greater detail, but again, it depends entirely on your situation: do you have some of the capabilities in house, do you require advice on the best technology solution, how much do you want to be involved in the process?

Again, all these factors depend on the project itself. When we discussed the problems we found with the agency model, the conversation largely boiled down to do you need a technology provider or a technology partner?

If you know what capabilities your solution requires and are happy to hand off a scope and take a backseat then a reputable provider may be what you need. If you need somebody to help guide, implement and scale your technology choices then a partner could be more suitable.

At Digital Village, we build teams of specialists from the network with the capabilities you need to either augment existing teams or take full ownership of the product and involve you and your customers every step of the way.

It all depends on your requirements and your expectations, both in terms of outcomes and the delivery process.

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