We live in an exciting time for technology.

There is a great deal of technology available that will make your company more profitable or more efficient. You may even have specific people allocated to identifying and evaluating new technologies that may be beneficial to your company. Depending on your business model, you may be inundated with vendors who promise that adopting their technology will save you money, increase productivity, and make upper management giddy.

The million dollar question is when is it time to adopt emerging technologies?

In order to answer this question properly, you have to take a look at your company culture. It’s defined as the unique personality of your employees within your company, and it’s based strongly on the position that management and upper management take toward change.

For example, is your company culture innovative/visionary, early adopter, average adopter, or conservative? Recognizing where you fall will help you when you need the million dollar question answered.

Let’s break down the unique personality of your company so we can correctly identify your specific company culture.

An innovative/visionary type would be classified as a company and management team who take risks and are eager to adopt new technologies quickly. They welcome change and are open to risk because they see the payoff to be significant, either in the form of profits, efficiency of operation, inspiration to employees, leadership in the field, or any number of other forms. They understand that early adoption may not always work out, but they thrive on the excitement of the technology. This type of company tends to hire enthusiastic, flexible overachievers who are driven to succeed and want a new technology the second it goes into early beta stages of development.

An early adopter would be classified as a management team and organization that needs some stability before moving forward but looks to its future, always wanting to have the latest technology as soon as it is released. They are well-informed on new technologies as they develop and emerge, and research the potential benefits of adopting the latest and greatest. These people are leaders when it comes to implementing new things, but they lead more cautiously than the innovative/visionary group. An early adopter differs from an innovative/visionary as they do not take as much risk.

The average adopter is defined as the company and management team who must eventually move to the technology so they will not be left behind. They don’t seek the thrill and leadership role of being one of the first out of the chute. And while they may acknowledge the possible payoffs of the new technology, they prefer not to leave that which is comfortable. They take very little risk and only change because everyone else is doing it. They basically keep up with the Jones’.

Conservative management and organizations want to take no risk at all and resist change. They will wait as long as possible to adopt a new technology, and have the attitude of ”if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it”. These are companies that fight to the very end when forced to change or adopt any piece of new technology.

Keep in mind that the position of your management team toward change and your company culture can vary depending on the type of technology you are introducing. You may be cutting-edge on collaboration technology, but conservative on your hardware infrastructure.

Now take a moment and try to identify where your management group and company fit within this model on a specific technology you are interested in adopting. For example, let’s say you are looking at a new piece of technology for your company. You may ask yourself:

  • If I am an early adopter, how will this technology provide value to my company?
  • If I am an early adopter, how will this new technology impact my employees?
  • How easily can we implement this new technology, including training, and dealing with a learning curve?
  • If we do not have enough staff, how much will it cost in consulting fees to implement?
  • How does our company deal with failure?
  • What is the backup plan if the implementation of the new technology doesn’t work?
  • Will I be willing to abandon a technology if it doesn’t work?

    Adopting emerging technologies, especially as an innovative cutting-edge company, can be very rewarding and exhilarating, but it also can be agonizing and painstakingly expensive if the technology does not work. You have to have the type of company culture and management team designed to take on these types of risks.

    Some companies are average adopters and always will be. The more cautious adoption timeline works for them and the people they employ. And some companies have a reputation for their vision and innovation, and thus attract employees who thrive on the risks and excitement of new technologies and change.

    By clearly identifying your group’s willingness to take risks, the impact new technology will have on your business and employees, and the flexibility and strength of the organization you have built, you will be better prepared to move forward with bringing breaking technology in house.