“There are two kinds of fools: one says, ‘This is old, therefore it is good’; the other says, ‘This is new, therefore it is better.’” - William Ralph Inge (English Clergyman, Theologian and Writer, 1860-1954)
A fool’s age
Mr. Inge lived from 1860-1954. He saw his share of fools–that time frame had an amazing amount of change. But I think his quote rings even truer today when applied to I.T..
Smartphones, tablets, browsers, software and oh-so-many APPS abound. It’s never been tougher to be a consumer. Move to the new smartphone and wham! The next big thing comes out on your way back from the store (or mailbox). So what do you do? What does your company do? There are so many decisions and the consequences are high. Pick the wrong software/operating system/cloud… whatever.. and you’re stuck with it.
What’s the goal and who’s the target?
Basically, what is the need and who is going to use it?
Some smartphones out there do incredible things, but if Mae Gateway only needs to make phone calls to Edith for Bingo times, why should she overspend? Know who you are and consider what you need.
Be wary of the next big thing
I used to have a rule: If Steve Jobs holds it up on stage, wait one year before even thinking about a purchase. That was about the time it took to sort out the bugs and see if the early adopters were on to something. There’s not a lot of reward in being an early adopter in I.T.. It’s certainly not cheaper. It requires risk and, for the most part, the “cool factor” is the only reward. I avoid the next big thing.
…But don’t drag your feet too long
Dean Inge’s axiom equates “new” with “fool” but in I.T., waiting too long can be costly. Technology has an implied expiration date. The Apollo space program was amazing technology, but my phone carries more computing power than mission control circa 1969. Outdated technology wastes time and resources.
So when do I make the plunge?
Ask. Ask people who have the same goals and skills. Look for reviews and “Top 10″ lists. Before you download an app, check out the rating and reviews. For apps, my rule of thumb is “5 stars and free” means I have to try it.
Then weigh the information. If you want to avoid wading through the plethora of review sites out there, here are a few of my favorites:
After you make your choice, be sure to follow up. Google tips for your device or application. Look for “Top 10 Apps” lists for your new gadget. The great thing about I.T. is that is the most self-documented technology ever.
Taking the plunge is tough, especially if you’ve been burned in the past– my wife will never let me forget about that brand new Palm Pilot crammed away somewhere in the basement.
But if you do your research, you can feel good about your purchase and make it work for you.
Todd Ross is the Director of Business Development for Digital Active in East Lansing, Michigan.