How can I take advantage of the benefits of the latest technology while minimizing the risks of being an early adopter?
Russell Meller, Vice President of Research & Development for FORTNA (with collaboration from Mike Wood, Materials Handling group)
Implementing any new technology is a question of how it will impact the people, processes and systems. And with a leading-edge technology, you really have to focus on the three R's: risk, resources and recovery.
Take a very good look at the risk associated with the leading-edge technology. The risk may be different if the technology is also from a new company working in our area. Make sure to capture all aspects of the risk so that you can adequately determine if the expected rewards of the technology outweigh the expected risk.
With a leading-edge technology there is a higher degree of uncertainty. Realize that a good strategy is to allocate additional resources -- upfront -- so that you are able to overcome the issues that arise and not jeopardize the technology project. Allocating the additional resources to project management will be valuable.
And lastly, consider the fact that you will be recovering from the implementation of a technology, which is typically characterized by a J-shaped curve, where there is an initial dip in productivity and then some period that is needed to recover from this dip. The depth of this dip, the speed of the recovery, and the ultimate increase in productivity are functions of the technology and how the project progresses. And although it isn't the preferred option, think about how you would recover from a technology failure, which might mean at least a temporary parallel system or a return to the original system.
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