If you keep chasing the puck you may never get there

  • 6-Dec-2013

Perennial NHL all-star Wayne Gretzky famously advised skating to where the puck was going, not where it had been — a phrase that has since gotten widely adopted in a tech world fraught with endemic change.

Of course this approach makes sense. But on the other hand, I often see it used to justify over-buying technology in anticipation of unrealistic future capacity, ultimately undermining the very speed and agility you seek.

The case for skating ahead of the puck

We all need to look beyond what we're doing today and where digital workplace and marketing technologies are headed.

At RSG, when we advise subscribers looking to select new technology, we typically start with education on "what's possible" today, as well as trends and potential future opportunities. After all, you don't want to just replicate your existing environment in any new system; you want to improve.

The pitfalls

At the same time, we see too many enterprises selecting overly-complex platforms to try to support some ambitious future state. Business stakeholders don't want to be left behind, and IT often fears that the limitations of a simpler product will have them responding "no" to future business demands, rather than "how much?" and "how fast?"

In my experience, most enterprises over-estimate how quickly they can mature and expand their capabilities to support advanced technologies. The thinking goes like this: "We probably can't handle this cool technology today, but in a couple years we'll get there, so let's license it now, and maybe it will push us more." Of course, in two years the puck will have moved even farther. Or to put it another way, if you can't master an extremely complicated WCM platform like Adobe Experience Management now, you will only find it all that richer (read: more complex) two years hence. So you end up perennially behind.

Remember that over-buying technology can stunt your evolution as much or more as under-buying. If a platform is too sophisticated or developer-intensive to fully exploit, it can keep you from doing the basics effectively. (For more details on this, subscribers can consult our briefing, How the New Platforms vs. Products Debate Impacts Your Success.)

What you should do

We always advise looking at vendors that represent differing points on the complexity spectrum. Ideally you can find the right match with a system that stretches you a bit, yet won't go underutilized. Then consider focusing on building your internal capacity as you invest in new tools.

Meanwhile, any technology supplier should be constantly innovating themselves, so in all likelihood the simpler solution you adopt today will get enhanced over time. Careful diligence in a structured selection process can uncover whether that vendor or open source community is pushing the puck forward at a pace that works for you.

If we can help you sort out the particular trade-offs for your enterprise, feel free to drop us a line.

Our customers say...

"I expected the quality and RSG absolutely delivered. What I did not expect are the laugh-out-loud moments of your humor shining through. Your report is a masterpiece of technical writing liberally laced with truth and a dash or two of snark. The vendor evaluations are FUN to read. I can't remember the last time I had fun reading technical information. Thank you for this awesome experience."

Leona Coffee, Director, Central Web Office National Academy of Sciences

Other Marketing Automation & Campaign Execution posts

What Is a Real Quadrant?

  • July 16, 2019

Customers have a love-hate relationship with marketplace "quadrant" diagrams. You suspect there's something not right in the arbitrary positioning...and you're correct!...

MD