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Staying Up-to-Date

One of the truisms of technology is that it changes. Especially in the Internet world, the technology is evolving quickly. We want to stay up with the latest and greatest technologies, whether they be the Web, real-time audio, Java, or exciting ideas yet to be invented. There is tension between the desire for stability and the drive for rapid evolution, and between the cost of change and the fear of being left behind. Therefore, it is worth thinking through the benefits, costs, and implications of incorporating new technologies into an Internet commerce application.

Issues for the Business

  • How will the proposed change affect the existing system? In many cases, the change may have little or no direct effect on the application already running. Other possible changes may risk the stability of the running application; such changes must be evaluated and tested carefully.

  • Will your team have the necessary skills? Changing technology requires continual development of new skills for the team implementing the application. Although the continuing education of the team is important, this must be balanced against a treadmill of technology change. One useful question here is whether or not the technology—or the skills—are strategic to the organization.

  • What are the costs? What does it actually take to implement the new technology in the application? These costs might come from software, new or custom development, staff training, new hardware to run the new software, or added routine operations. No matter what the components of the cost, it is important to look at the overall cost of the new technology, which may be far greater than the cost of simply acquiring a new software package.

  • How much change can the customers and the organization handle every year? Even when all the other factors line up—the customers like (or at least don't mind) the change, the technology looks like a long-term winner, the costs aren't out of line, the team has (or can acquire) the needed skills—there may be a limit to how much change the customers (or an organization) can handle in a given period of time. Sometimes absorbing the change may be too much in the context of all the other activity going on.


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