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It’s Not (Just) the Technology

Another one of my children is winding down his senior year of high school, which is always met with finals. Watching him use a fairly new scientific calculator it reminded me of my first “real” calculator: the TI-30; big, blocky, with a 9-volt battery. What I remember the most was the need to enter all 8’s into the display to make sure all of the LEDs lit up, or you wouldn’t know if that number 9 was actually an 8. And let’s not even talk about a dead battery, because who checked the battery before class or carried a spare? It really made me appreciate the time I spent in class learning to do it “long hand,” and even though I despised the phrase “show your work,” it prepared me for the inevitable.

Today we rely on technology to be the answer to our problems, but the reality is that without the right people or sound practices, technology can lead to deeper issues.

In a survey by Acuite Construction Intelligence, respondents in the construction industry rank themselves as “industry followers” or “behind the curve” when it comes to technology adoption. Gartner, a leading research and advisory company, has built a graph called “The Hype Cycle” which describes the process technology innovations go through before they become mainstream solutions.

We see this in our everyday life when it comes to the latest phone or smartwatch, with promotions beginning months before we can even consume the product. These advertisements are preceded by months or years of R&D, and people and processes must be taken into account early in the cycle to create a solution that will make our lives simpler. At Faith Technologies, we work to ensure that everyone who will be affected by a technology change is a part of the change process.

The Harvard Business Review published “Implementing New Technology” in 1985, and surprisingly, the rules still apply today; technology on its own, no matter how superior, will not guarantee acceptance. It is the people who support and utilize the technology who are critical to implementation success. Second in line for successful implementation is a review of current practices. Does the technology support current practices, or will you need to modify them? Can you streamline processes to create a flow of information that can be utilized by a broader group of stakeholders?

Where does technology go from here? Check out the latest Gartner Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies for an interesting view. Just don’t forget the people and the process portion of the equation. Technology on its own does not make life better; it can, however, enhance your capabilities.