Technology Selection is Social

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We all know that selecting a new technology for your organization (usually) requires multiple people (aka decision makers) involvement – that point has been made ad nauseam by sales and marketing literature (the age of “account-based marketing”).

However, what we don’t talk about much is how these stakeholders work together to actually make a technology decision. When people from different departments like finance, legal, operations, marketing, etc. need to come together to make a technology decision, it can be beyond painstaking. Yet, it’s necessary; we must acknowledge that technology selection has become a social function where lots of communication and decision making bounces back and forth between internal teams, consultants and vendors.

Today’s Technology Selection Problems

To start, someone has to get the ball rolling to introduce the need for new technology. Then, once the grumbling of having to learn something new has concluded, all involved finds that they have their own unique requirements and goals for the new technology. Further, each department’s’ decision makers rarely collaborate together on other projects so don’t necessarily have a rapport with one and other.

As you can see, we already have a challenge on our hands. Now, throw in disjointed and archaic communication management (e.g. mass group emails) around evaluating even 1 product/vendor in the targeted technology and you’ve got a probable nightmare on your hands. Don’t forget, though, that most technology selection projects generally include at least 3-4 possible vendors, if not more. To turn a popular phrase, technology selection is a hot mess.

You probably wonder how do these decisions actually ever come to fruition? While they often do, they are not always made with sound evaluation practices and often lead to a failure to launch the technology effectively or realize a positive ROI on the project. Hundreds of millions of dollars are wasted each year on botched IT spend. Lack of internal socialization, communication and failure to keep track or fulfill all the desired requirements across each department are often the biggest areas that leads to a busted technology selection project.

Solving the Problem

Purchasing almost any IT today is a social affair, albeit mostly internal within an organization, with outside consultants and other 3rd parties sometimes involved. However, there is clearly a disconnect that occurs when people from different departments try to come together to select technology. It doesn’t have to be that way.

First of all, abandon the mass email chains. Move to a project management software. Better yet, find a collaborative technology selection management platform to manage the process. By doing so, it fulfills the immediate need for a contained social environment to communicate and tools to manage the requirements and the selection process. Not only that, it will provide a comprehensive audit trail, solving the challenge of keeping track of the project using email and spreadsheets alone.

Once you’ve selected a project management platform, make sure everyone involved has their individual/department requirements documented within the platform so they do not get missed or overlooked during the vendor analysis or RFP/RFI process.

Why This Benefits Technology Vendors

If you’re a technology vendor/platform, you should be seriously considering how to ease the challenge organizations go through to select your technology. You should be looking for solutions that give your buyers tools to make a valid technology selection purchase – it builds trust with your potential buyers and will help them make a better purchase decision.

It’s important to consider the decisions companies are making regarding technology selection in your category of business. You don’t want your buyers to make a bad decision whether or not they’ve selected your platform. If they feel your platform was a bad decision post-selection and they lost money on it, you now need to deal with the repercussions of that dissatisfied customer.

Alternatively (and in your favor), by referring someone to a social-based technology selection management methodology or tool, you’ll likely increase your chances of them finding your solution to be a better fit compared to the other vendors your potential buyer is evaluating.

Either way, if your true objective is to provide value to your industry and its potential customers (curse you, marketing!), helping them make better purchase decisions (regardless if they select your technology) through collaborative tools seems like the right course of action. But it’s ultimately your call.

Michael ShearerTechnology Selection is Social

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