In our minds, technology and innovation are interconnected.
However, for every technological advancement, there seems to be a learning curve or adjustment period as we try to figure out how to implement automation into our daily lives.
Sometimes the problem is compatibility with legacy systems, but there are also skills gaps to overcome, decisions about how much tech you need and where to apply it, and coping with business disruption or temporary lags in productivity.
The seeming slowdown in innovation is also partly due to expansion in outcome-based industries like finance and healthcare that are more difficult to measure than how many widgets one produces.
Such issues could lead to frustrations and leave you wondering if all this progress is worth the effort in the end.
Technology: One Step Forward, Two Steps Back?
Over the past decade, tech seems to be advancing at a faster pace than at any other time in history.
Networking systems and tech careers are entering the modern lexicon that didn’t even didn’t exist a few years ago, leading us into a time that seems more disruptive and chaotic than efficient and productive.
It’s easy to look at the big picture and consider the ways technology transforms how we live and conduct business.
But, doing so can lead to overlooking the unintended consequences of implementing individual pieces of technology or considering their true impact.
For example, apps are great for promoting business, adding value, and managing certain aspects of our lives, but they also pose a security risk.
Cloud-based systems make conducting business borderless and flexible, but this distribution of resources can lead to issues with continuity.
Here are five tech advances and how to deal with unforeseen issues that could affect innovation.
#1 The Devil in Design
Innovations like virtualization and utilizing proxy servers has been a boon for software research, development, and production.
Such tools enable digital design and high-fidelity prototyping, but they also have specific hardware and software requirements that come with their own issues.
In order to maintain security and ensure functionality throughout the development process, you should adhere to a standard Software Development Lifecycle (SDLC) that involves:
- Analysis and planning as a preliminary risk-assessment step
- Documenting all design specifications
- Practicing security by design that includes failsafes to prevent data theft, corruption, and loss
- Building the app using secure code
- Testing individual components or code as well as universal testing
- Release after final testing once all fixes are integrated
- Maintenance and evaluation during post-production to identify unforeseen issues and incorporate updates
- Secure disposal if and when the application becomes obsolete; this will become less of an issue as advances like AI, machine learning, and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) become the norm.
Using developer tools will streamline and speed the design, build, testing, and release process.
#2 The Expense of Acquisition and Training
As always, introducing innovation involves the expense of purchasing technology and onboarding.
Before purchasing/installing technology, perform an internal audit to identify areas where technology will improve business functioning, how it will be purchased and implemented, such as through cloud-based services, and design a procedure for new and existing staff training.
#3 Reimagining Corporate Culture
Virtual offices, job sharing, and other organizational shifts offer convenience, reduce overhead costs, and contribute to job satisfaction.
They also pose new challenges when it comes to managing distributed workforces.
Depending on how widely your team is scattered, you may be learning to overcome time and language barriers, coping with data accessibility issues, and expending energy bemoaning the lack of team unity.
Such monumental challenges leave team members feeling disengaged and disconnected, affecting your ability to get everyone on the same page and invested in the success of your enterprise.
Overcoming these challenges starts at the top.
Diverse work environments flourish when they’re supported by a culture of innovation that allows room for experimentation, tolerates failure, and encourages a certain level of autonomy that’s tempered with individual accountability.
Such organizations are better equipped to learn from setbacks, and remain resilient in times of upheaval, and weather change.
In such a climate, staff members feel more invested, and leaders within the enterprise are better able to identify winning strategies that foster healthy competition.
#4 Data Integrity, Storage, and Security
Data integrity is becoming a major issue as we transition further into the digital age. Record breaches shake consumer confidence and ruin corporate reputations.
Unscrupulous data collection practices have led government agencies to enact legislation that’s geared toward promoting greater transparency.
These guidelines regulate how companies gather, use, and store information.
Integrity is defined by how accurate and reliable data remains from creation/collection through to processing and archiving or disposal.
At each of these stages in the life of data, security and transparency are paramount.
Regulations like Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) state that customers have a right to control what data is collected and why it’s needed, and assurances about its security in transition and at rest.
There are huge penalties for failure to comply.
Data generation is further compounded by the wider use of AI, IoT networking, and data-heavy applications.
Follow these data processing/storage best practices:
- Validate your computer systems to ensure consistent software performance.
- Create automated audit trails that timestamp each instance that data is entered, altered, and deleted or archived.
- Install automated error detection software that deploys real-time alerts.
- Implement a least-privilege system that permits access only to those who need the information and uses a two-factor authentication
- Create quality controls that support data integrity and accuracy.
- Devise physical and logical system security
- Implement a vendor qualification and management protocol
- Conduct regular system security audits
Such practices will help you minimize risk and liability for your business venture.
#5 Old Computers and Legacy Systems Slow Down Innovation
Legacy systems aren’t restricted to data storage. Too many businesses are using outdated hardware that’s incompatible with newer apps, platforms, and networks.
If you’re depending on outmoded infrastructure, your team is likely to spend more time dealing with lags and glitches than they are taking care of business.
Another common issue is with bloated systems that become bogged down over time.
If your devices aren’t as lean and efficient as when they were new, a few tweaks and some maintenance will improve their performance.
You can also investigate hybrid storage solutions to reduce resource consumption or look into purchasing infrastructure as a service (IaaS).
One of the paradoxes of our times is the fact that, as technology grows, productivity in most industries seems to be slowing.
Any sort of progress requires a period of adjustment. This is especially true with technology.
Fortunately, these setbacks are usually temporary.
As we settle into a new reality of greater connectivity and technological advancement, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
Innovation isn’t really at a standstill.
We’re simply entering a phase where the rough edges are being smoothed and honed.
Hold tight, have patience, and take a comprehensive approach to upgrade your systems that minimize the effects of business disruption and reduced productivity.
Lisa Michaels is a freelance writer, editor, and striving content marketing consultant from Portland. Being self-employed, she does her best to stay on top of the current trends in business and tech. Feel free to connect with her on Twitter @LisaBMichaels.