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The Fear of Adopting New Technology

Patrick Collins

What a great week at the Esri® International User Conference! This year I believe Esri set a record in the number of attendees; and the sessions, events, and expo hall were all superbly put together. There was lots of great technology being talked about and demoed throughout the conference, my favorite of which was the virtual reality goggles being powered by Esri City Engine that allowed you to run around a virtual city and jump across the tops of the skyscrapers like a GIS superhero!

It was nice when, after a full day of being immersed in techno-babble, I was walking into the Historic Gas Lamp district of San Diego and saw this old car sitting at a red light. It seemed like such an odd comparison after having just leapt around the city wearing these virtual goggles, and it got me thinking about businesses that become paralyzed by fear of investing in technology that will one day become antiquated.

By definition all technology will one day be surpassed by new advancements in those fields, but without the initial investment in the founding tech, new advancements can't be made. I've seen businesses that are unwilling to adopt certain programming languages, specifications on standards, or new data formats because of the fear that the money will be 'wasted' when the community moves on to the next greatest thing. However, these businesses often lose the opportunity to grow and learn through their adoption of new ideas, which benefits the company as a whole by making them smarter and more agile when it comes to integrating new tech into the business.

On top of that, adoption of technology drives innovation. How do you think the great innovative businesses of the world come up with their great ideas? It's not by sitting on the sidelines waiting for someone else to tell them what is a viable technology. They push the limits of the possible, and when something is good, are able to cash in enormously during the window of opportunity when they are the sole provider of a service or product that the entire world wants to get their hands on.

Now I'm not saying you should go out and adopt every single new idea that comes along. Naturally part of the learning process involves knowing what technologies are not worth adopting. But it is very difficult to gain that knowledge if you're not willing to dip your proverbial toes in the water every now and then and try something out of the ordinary. Being paralyzed bythe fear of new technology can literally stifle a business's growth and render them obsolete within their industry.

So the next time you see a vintage car, old Atari game system, or some antiquated product on a 'Throwback Thursday' post, think about the vision and investment that went into the development of these previously non-existent technologies. These seemingly ancient inventions were once the bleeding edge of technological advancement. What are the technologies of today that will persist as icons of innovation tomorrow, and who will be the people that drive that innovation?


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