How far into the future should your technology plan look? That’s a question I am asked often these days. Technology can be a capital expenditure for businesses and not-for-profits. It seems like yesterday I was sitting in board meetings considering investing in technology, websites, servers, and productivity tools that we expected to be useful for “the next 10 years.” Oh my, how times have changed. Unfortunately today I run into all sorts of limitation issues when clients who bought expensive technology 5 years ago want to continue to use it in today’s context.
The proliferation and democratization of technology has taken innovation from the large software and hardware developers such as Microsoft and has moved them down to the level of a college kid who starts a little online tool for his friends based on an open-source platform we now call Facebook. It seems like every day something amazing has been created overnight by either Apple, the Google guys, or by a 13-year old kid in Sri Lanka. It doesn’t matter where it comes from, but change is coming at a neck-breaking speed.
How should we manage this elusive technological curve? How should we look at investing in online tools, software, and servers? I think the answer is to become platform agnostic and not to expect any technological investment to last more than two to two and a half years; and that’s even pushing it. Really.
Depending on your business or ministry, your website functionality should be evaluated every six months. Your overall site functionality should be assessed every 15 to 24 months and your front-end interface should change annually to keep it fresh and relevant. Consider purchasing only API-friendly (Application Protocol Interface) software. In other words, don’t buy technology that doesn’t play well with others. The days of being held hostage by software are over.
How well is your organization managing technology?