Magazine Article | July 1, 2003

Playing The Waiting Game

Source: Field Technologies Magazine

Beside the obvious reason (read: budget), what excuses do you use for not making a new technology investment?

Integrated Solutions, July 2003
Ed Hess

The question of the moment is: How long?

How long can you wait before you make a significant IT investment? You've spent the past couple of years squeezing more than you thought possible out of your current IT resources and infrastructure. The systems are all tweaked and the desktop PCs are topping out. If one more person tells you to "do more with less," you're likely to wrap a network cable around their neck.

So, how long can you wait? How long is too long?

Sitting On Your Hands Is Not A Strategy
Companies that invest during a down economy are typically the ones that benefit the most - and quickest - when the economy turns around. It looks good on paper. Try getting the CFO to buy into this strategy, and you might get a Swingline tossed your way.

Imagine if budget weren't an issue. (I know, "Aside from that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you enjoy the play?") Then there would be no excuse not to invest in proven technologies that make your business more efficient. Truth be told, many companies would still find reasons not to pull the trigger.

Self Preservation. At the recent DC Expo (Chicago) event, an account rep told me that many end users take the position that major technology implementations require two people. It takes one person to push the decision through and champion the project and implementation. After that person is fired, it takes a second person to bring an end to the engagement and complete the project. If the fear of a failed project outweighs the accolades that accompany a successful engagement, then your company is destined to stand still.

Lack Of Knowledge. Considering the amount of information available to end users, vendors still lament to me that potential customers simply don't understand the fundamental benefits of some technologies. For example, the average consumer grasps the use of bar codes in their everyday lives. But, operations folks stumble wide-eyed into trade show booths filled with bar code printers, scanners, and associated software. For many midmarket warehouses, wireless networks and handheld computers are unfortunately still considered black magic.

Motivation. Times are tough, but your company is still trudging forward. Why change when the pain is still tolerable? Tom Dowd, director of industrial marketing at Intermec, tackled that question when I spoke with him at his company's annual i-comm conference (Miami). "Companies that don't implement basic data collection technologies are being hurt right now. But, the pain is bearable," says Dowd. "That's going to change. Soon, companies are going to move beyond just being hurt to actually being maimed." The intensity of pain at your company will dictate how fast you act.

There are six more months left in 2003. How long can you wait?