Gordon, I wanted to follow up on your points regarding technology, efficiency and education. Technology is indeed a great driver of efficiencies. If a process, system, or company as a whole needs to become more efficient, technology is often the answer. It is true that sometimes the advances in technology outdo the capabilities of an organization. As a result, some companies respond by further educating their employees, as you pointed out. Other companies choose to outsource. While the goal of outsourcing for a company is to meet technological standards and improve efficiencies, it sometimes has a negative effect. According to Carmen Weigelt, a strategy professor at Tulane University, outsourcing can sometimes hinder a company’s ability to be adaptable to technological changes, especially as the technology is in its emergent stage. This leads me to say that while technology offers great strategic advantages for companies, they should carefully consider how they intend to adapt to the change and not act rashly.
Weigelt, C., & Sarkar, M. (2012). Performance implications of outsourcing for technological innovations: managing the efficiency and adaptability trade-off. Strategic Management Journal, 33(2), 189-216. doi:10.1002/smj.951
At times taking a new leap into technology may seem like a risk, but it is also a necessary step in growing any business. The tough decision that many companies face is will the cost benefits of upgrading technology out weigh the cost of the upgrading. They must also take in to account the time period before they feel the technology will become obsolete, which currently is happening very rapidly in many instances. Technological upgrades also come with new user interfaces which can slow down or cause a gap in production because employees often need training and time to learn these things. Powell (1997) discusses these difficulties and making the tough choice of moving forward technologically in an age riddled with technology. I personally believe with an intelligent and quick learning workforce, most company can use technological advancements to their benefit. Of course this technology must all be applied effectively.
Powell, Thomas. Information Technology as Competitive advantage. Bryant College, Rhode Island. 1997
One particularly well publicized mass adoption of new technology in the workplace was the original iPad. As I recall, a few years ago when the iPad was initially released many businesses small and large jumped on board the new technology fad band wagon and invested in the purchasing of these tablets for IT employees in some cases and for all employees in others. There was nothing like tablets on the market and the thought was that these devices would make employees more mobile. The problem with the early adoption of these devices was their incredibly high total cost of ownership (Mouritsen, 2013). These early tablets resulted in costs related to deployment, training, support, and development of apps in order to be functional. As a result, early adopters found that by the time the iPad was becoming a usable tool it was blown out of the water by the much improved second-generation iPad.
Management should be weary when deploying new technology. The iPad lesson take away is that development teams should always be given adequate time with new technology before its potential implementation.
Mouritsen, M. (2013). Is Your Organization Managing or Mangling Its Technology Assets?. Strategic Finance, 95(1), 35-41.