I have been living in the everchanging technology landscape for 45+ years. (I got my hands on my first Apple II in 3rd Grade, and the snowball began to fall down the mountain) First as a hobbyist & consumer, next as a power user & evangelist, and now there are days I feel I am on the edge of being just another piece of tech. (A constant data stream processing engine, tagging, filtering and quantifying) So, being a piece of organic tech myself, what does the title of this post have to do with anything?
In the sales and marketing sense, everything. (Well, philosophically it can be argued that all we need is love. Or maybe I am just being reminiscent of the Beatles.) So let me narrow the scope down to one of my areas of expertise. Data Management and Storage Technologies, huge abusers of pushing shiny objects. (Oh here it comes, the obvious)
Most data management and storage technologies are milk and orange juice (Commodities) and to sustain the companies that produce these commodities, they have trained their customer base to purchase on a schedule. Buy a new solution, 3 years later they come back to you with a new shiny object for you to buy, whether it is necessary or not. They do this, not because your business would be optimized on newer tech, but because most of the manufacturer’s warranties have come to term, and the cost of the sustained maintenance puts a burden on their business plan.
Enter the distraction of newer, faster, bigger. For sure there are companies whose growth curves demand this type of purchasing strategy, but MOST businesses have not even optimized the old technologies they implemented 3 years ago. They get dazzled with sales and marketing strategies to enforce the need for “new,” when what is really needed is an evaluation of business practices and an understanding of where the bottlenecks and problems really are.
That being said, what should be driving “new” is not necessarily faster and shinier, but an integrated solution that optimizes business processes. Technologies that truly deliver business optimization, not more dollars into the pockets of the manufacturers.
Example: If I could implement a storage technology that will deliver a near T=0 return to operations (RTO) after any data corruption or malicious event. This is something worth buying. It has an immediate impact on business processes and methodologies. It isn’t a “me too solution” out there, trying to be the next shiner widget and not offering any real value except for being new.
The problem is, especially with us gadget junkies, we have been trained to receive a dopamine hit when we acquire something shiny and new. What most technology people need to do, take a step back, really understand the business problem that needs a better solution, then, determine if it can be achieved through better implementation of what they have. If the answer (and a number of times this is the case) there is a better solution out there (Not necessarily newer and shinier) and it will have a major effect on the business, then it should be acquired and implemented.
Too many times, the shiner and new things (though they are practically the same things when you evaluate based on need vs function) are easy, (you bought it before) and exciting. (once again, it is shiny and new)
Impact and function need to be the baseline for real value.