Overcoming Technology Risks At the Speed of Technology

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AJ Sementilli
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I recently attended an event where the featured speaker was a technology guru. His presentation discussed how technology is constantly changing the way we do business and as business people we need to be constantly monitoring how we might be able to use technology to improve the way we interact with our customers and talent. His point: technology is a game changer and you ignore the impact on your business at your own peril. He provided many examples such as the impact Netflix had on Blockbuster, Apple’s iPhone on Blackberry, online publications on newspapers, etc.

We all know the speed of technology change is blazingly fast. The difficult question is when to embrace a new technology and build it into your workflow. Jump too early into a new technology and you may do more harm than good. Wait too long and a competitor may use the efficiencies generated by the technology change to put you out of business.

We grappled with this issue recently in our own business. As a media staffing company we hire a significant number of W-2 employees and independent contractors to support the business needs of our customers. Our workflow is heavily dependent on forms, contracts, timesheets, expense reports and the need to provide an ever increasing amount of data to our customers to help them understand information such as utilization rates, actual to budget project comparisons, and other operational key performance indicators. Our traditional workflow was very efficient but not scalable to support our recent growth. It was time to look at a new solution.

Technology risk is one of the four categories of risk facing our media clients daily. We applied the same principals we would utilize in consulting with our clients to address our own situation.

4 Categories of Risk Facing Media Clients

1. Analyze

Performing an in-depth analysis of our existing workflow and identifying the pinch points (both today and in the future based on our growth goals).

2. Research

Built a small team with expertise in all aspects of our workflow to research solutions and to develop a checklist of the features we absolutely needed and those that would be “nice to have.”

3. Ask Questions

Evaluate product solutions using both vendor written material and demonstrations of their product against our workflow checklists and requirements. Ask the tough questions and have them show how the features you need actually work.

4. Buy-In

Obtain buy-in from senior leadership and develop a reasonable plan for implementation.

One of the key ingredients of this process is having a healthy debate on the pros and cons of your technology options. Our small team of four debated the pros and cons of each product and many times we disagreed with each other. There was one thing we all agreed upon. It was the right time for a change.

Key Components to Do It Right

A key part of our implementation plan was to phase in features of the new workflow. The product we selected has an amazing set of features that we are excited to implement. We also decided that “turning on” all these features initially would potentially lead to short-term productivity issues. We decided that we would start slow and add features as our employees and contractors mastered the initial features available to them.

Another key component of our plan was to take the time necessary to do it right. I have seen post production companies jump into purchasing the latest greatest edit system only to have that software/hardware product disappear within a few years leaving them to change platforms and re-train staff and fight to survive. This leads me to my final thought. Embrace technology.   As media people it is an exciting part of our industry. But, do your due diligence by monitoring how technology is and could impact your business.   Be quick to stay abreast of technology but be sure to take time to implement to ensure that the change benefits both your customers and other stakeholders. It just might help increase the lifespan of your business by a few years.

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AJ Sementilli

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