End-User Challenges with Emerging Technologies
The most frequent failure point I have seen with emerging technologies in pilot programs is the tactic of “fire and forget.” Never assume the pilot program is proceeding as planned.
In my previous three columns, I talked about the supply chain and how it responds to emerging technologies, along with the challenges these technologies present for each segment of our security ecosystem. We discussed security suppliers who create the technology and bring it to market; distribution networks that take that technology and move it into a value-added supply chain; and systems integrators, who work with new technologies and use them to improve their business.
Now, in the last column in the series, we’ll address the end user. After all, the end user is the recipient and benefactor of all the work that has been done to develop emerging technologies, as well as the distribution to get the technology into the hands of system integrators who apply that technology to solve problems. Finally, then, it’s the end users who use those technologies in an operational sense to reduce the risk, improve their revenues, and wield value propositions to their customers.
A Tolerance For Risk
From my experience, there are several types of end users who have variable averseness to risk versus reward. Early adopters are not averse to risk as long as there’s a clear path to gain results and monitor business goals. You can recognize these types of end users by how interested they are in new and emerging technologies and what those technologies might be able to do for their companies. It’s important to recognize early-adopter customers who have the horsepower and authority to engage in new emerging technology pilot programs or proof-of-concept implementations.
You will find some end user customers fascinated with emerging technology, but will wait to take a calculated risk based on other customer experiences before trying a new technology. We call these early (but not first) adopters.
Next are late adopters, who typically wait on the sidelines to see how a new technology is playing out within vertical markets. Risk averse and very cautious, they will talk to their early adopter peers and associates to gain input and thoughts on that technology. Based on that input, they may be willing to take the risk and try the emerging technology.
Finally, there are the laggards within the end-user community. They wait for an emerging technology to be fully implemented for several years before they’re ready. Extremely risk averse, they will also wait for pricing to become more affordable – primarily because it will disrupt their current processes, create change disruption within their organization, and could damage their retirement plans.
It’s important from system integrators’ and manufacturers’ perspectives to understand an end user’s tolerance for risk when considering pilot programs to vet a product and gain traction within the market. As a consultant, I have found it better to have frank dialogue with product manufacturers, system integrators and end users when discussing a pilot program with an emerging technology. Frank dialogue will deliver clarity in expectations among all parties, how success metrics will be established/shared, and commitments upon a successful pilot program. Discuss the upsides and the downsides of a new emerging technology that has great promise but does not yet have a track record in the industry.
Three Primary Factors
What’s the key to making this work? Clearly communicate the pilot program plan, its timing, the metrics to measure success, and the feedback loop from the end user every step of the way. These are necessary to adjust/correct issues to accomplish expected metrics for ROI. The most frequent failure point I have seen with emerging technologies in pilot programs is the tactic of “fire and forget.” Never assume the pilot program is proceeding as planned. All parties must be fully engaged through every phase of the pilot program to make it successful and referrable.
The challenges with adoption by end users of emerging technologies are based on three factors:
- The first is having confidence in the system integrator and the product supplier to hold up their end of the bargain and not embarrass an early adopter, or you will risk blemishing someone’s career.
- Second, reduce the friction points early with a pilot program. This can impact security operational processes, and humans typically resist change at all costs.
- Third, the integrator and supplier must be easy and flexible to work with. Adjustments for improvements midstream in a pilot program can be a blessing – they teach us how to improve, implement and sell solutions more effectively.
The goal? Build a referrable customer base of early adopters. Nerd out my friends!
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