Why building a technology solution can go seriously off the rails and how to avoid it

In the past 20 years, we’ve seen a lot of technology solutions fail.

For example, Barnes & Noble’s line of Nook ereaders and tablets was shut down in early 2016. This decision was driven by the line’s inability to scale production, match competitor pricing, and provide the content that its consumers demanded.

In 2007 one of Blackberry’s co-founder’s famously said “we’ll be fine” while watching the iPhone be released. Today Blackberry has gone from market leader to an afterthought because they continued building the wrong technology solutions for years.

The list of failed tech is endless. So if you’re considering building a technology solution for your business, then you’re wondering how you can succeed where others have failed. In this post, we’ll look at the most common mistakes you need to avoid when planning for a technology solution and how to find the right vendor to get it built.

Common mistakes when building technology solutions

Building a technology solution is relatively easy, there are plenty of effective processes and vendors who can support you. If this is the case, then why do so many technology solutions miss the mark? It’s because no matter who you are, you can easily fall victim to these common mistakes.

One of the biggest mistakes you can make is not taking into account other aspects of the business. It’s important that we recognize that any piece of technology is part of a larger system. If it doesn’t serve its purpose within that process or take into account what comes before and after, then it will likely cause more harm than good.

For example, in manufacturing, you could reason that a change to production line technology only affects the production line. But, that’s not entirely true. Imagine that the change affects the performance of the product. If the updated product is sold before sales & marketing can update their materials or before the learning and development team has a chance to train people on how to sell the product, it could cause major issues. What was supposed to only affect the production line actually affects how a product can/should be sold.

This type of misalignment has a ripple effect across the organization. When buy-in and alignment don’t happen in advance, it can stop a project in its tracks and cause it to completely miss the mark.

Another mistake organizations make when building technology solutions is being too short-sighted. This is really a mindset problem. Organizations might feel like they’re buying the solution, instead of a process that needs to be reviewed and evolved over time. This means that they’ll allocate money to make the change but won’t allocate money to monitor, review, and update it to keep them relevant.

Hardly any of us use technology that was used 50 years ago. The first Macintosh computer was created in 1984, and we’d be unable to use that machine for any modern computing task. All technology is iterative. Only when organizations adopt and embrace this will they allocate budget and plan accordingly to make the change successful. After all, the goal isn’t solely to build a new tool, it’s to protect their business’ future.

Why do technology vendors allow these mistakes to happen?

A poll on vendor relationships by Tech Pro Research found “most respondents said their company works with at least one vendor, and 47 percent said their company uses more than 10.”

Sometimes vendors have to fit into a strategy that the company has already set. Their job is to finish a specific task that was decided on long before they became involved and they don’t have the option to dig deeper and course correct. Because of the nature of the relationship, they’re forced to be short-sighted and aren’t fully equipped to handle the problems that are table stakes in technology solution development. What worsens this scenario?

  • When clients are afraid to admit that they don’t know what they need. This creates a situation where they’re bringing on a vendor for a specific solution, which may not be the right answer.
  • Vendors have an extract income mindset vs. an add value mindset. Some vendors want the long-term solution, even if it doesn’t solve the problem since it’s advantageous for their bottom line.
  • Vendors don’t know how to solve the problem. They lack the internal expertise or industry knowledge to help their client.

The solution to these problems is a value-driven mindset. When vendors are focused on adding value first they won’t be willing to start projects that don’t lead to business outcomes. They also won’t take on work if they don’t have the expertise to solve the underlying business issues through technology. In essence, they are trying to build trust, not just revenue.

A good technology partner understands that the solutions they build aren’t the whole package. They are just the tip of digital transformation.

A value-driven partner that will keep you on track

With the right technology partner, you can build solutions that transform the way you do business and drive the value you need. But, this statement leaves us with some important questions.

  • When and how should you build a technology solution for your business?
  • What does a value-driven partnership look like?
  • How can you use these partnerships to drive digital transformation within your company?

We’ve amassed years of experience driving digital transformation for brands like Home Depot, 3M, and Renewal by Andersen. Stay on track with Design Center.