Keys to Starting an Emerging Tech Project
Written by the Skiplist Team
This article is all about exploring how your company might begin an emerging tech project. To help you do this, we define emerging technology, explore why your company would want to use emerging technology, examine some pros and cons, and identify ways to help you get started.
Defining Emerging Technology
Emerging technology is a subset of all technologies that are in an adoption phase and still in development. This includes technology such as 5G, AI, nanotechnology, computer vision, NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming), blockchain, data architectures/DataMesh.
Two things must be true for something to be considered emerging tech. First, the technology has to be unfinished. Second, it has to be in a state of adoption.
Why Would You Adopt Emerging Technology Before It Is Fully Mature?
One consideration with emerging tech is that you cannot expect it to solve all of your problems right out of the gate. It can be a tremendous asset, but your company will also need to allow it to evolve.
For instance, 4G became 4G LTE and then MIMO. AI and 5G will follow similar paths as well.
Another drawback is the common failure to adapt development processes and development lifecycles to emerging technologies’ complexity. Emerging tech is not widely understood, and the mistake commonly made is to treat the emerging tech with the same development principles previously used for more mature technology.
Despite this, your company must adopt and implement emerging technology because it is transformative. It can provide a massive competitive advantage from a cost savings perspective and give your company new features that your competitors cannot merely build.
In other words, emerging technology can set your business apart and make you more competitive.
In reality, the question is not “Should my company invest in emerging technology?” but “When will my company invest in emerging technology?”
If you don’t, your competitors will do so, and when they do, they will ultimately put you out of business.
Discovery is the Key to Successful Emerging Tech Projects
“Did you leverage the technology correctly?”
“Did you build the right thing?”
“Did you focus on value?”
All of this should be established in the discovery phase, which, as it relates to emerging technology, determines if the tech your company wants to pursue is right for your business and your clients.
Does it deliver value? There is a tendency to jump right into projects without implementing any type of discovery phase to determine if you are even using the emerging tech to solve a given problem in the right way. You may have working software. You may ship something, but if it failed, it did so because you built the wrong solution.
Part of discovery as it relates to emerging technology is determining what is possible and then determining if that fits within a particular budget or business model. Perhaps it is possible, but it might cost your company millions more than you have budgeted or can even afford.
In many cases, the discovery phase is rushed or skipped altogether in an effort to be the first to meet marketing demands. The result is that you will fail to understand the problem you are using the technology to try and solve in the first place.
This means for your company that if you have invested in the API economy and are looking at these emerging technologies, you should focus on reusing their intellectual properties.
In essence, you want to reuse the building blocks, data warehouses, data lakes, and code you have collected over time. So as you examine emerging technology, you should first look at what you can reuse, what you may need to buy, and finally, what you can build.
Where Do I Start?
The very first thing you must do is ask, “What problem am I using this tech to try and solve?” Once you determine this, your next question should be, “Is this problem worth solving?”
For example, it is not worth solving a one million dollar problem with a ten million dollar solution. However, once you have determined that the problem you want to tackle is worth solving, you pursue the (MVP) Minimum Viable Product.
Next, your company must emphasize discovery. This data is vital because technology such as AI and NLP requires a lot of data to be successful.
Then, refine your data to avoid data swamps or useless data. This will allow you to create manageable POC’s and incremental projects and finally make investments into emerging tech.
As your data grows and your emerging tech evolves, you can better determine trends and find correlations within your data to aid you in predicting desirable outcomes. This is what empowers your business.
Finally, success in digital business is all about playing the long game. Emerging technology will not solve all of your problems or fulfill your company’s long term goals overnight. We have to become comfortable and even plan for small incremental steps.
As the technology advances, your results will improve the following year, and then even more so the year following. An excellent example of this is Tesla’s incremental improvements in their cars over the years, which as of 2021, are the only cars that can receive periodic software updates to improve vehicle performance. However, Tesla didn’t start there. It arrived there because of knowing what it wanted to do for its customers and making the necessary incremental changes over the years.
It takes an evolutionary mindset in which your company is continually evolving its platform, adding new features, new building blocks, new primitives, and building its API economy to achieve the success down the road that you dream of today.
It can be intimidating, but you can employ emerging technology if you know what problem you want to solve. You can take the necessary incremental steps, and your company can be successful for the foreseeable future.