No one can deny the impact of technology as a source of competitive advantage for a firm. The introduction of a new technology or the development and the commercialization of a new product/ service are due to increase business benefits: it allows costs savings, improves the productivity and the efficiency of the organization. It also allows a better allocation of resources within the firm and this rationalization of the means of production benefits also the customers.
But technology is not simply a black box: the implementation and the management of technology within a company can fail. The implementation was defined by Swanson as “a decision-making activity that converts a design concept into an operating reality so as to provide value to the client”. Besides it is worth saying that implementation is an iterative process that has an impact on many aspects of the firm: the cultural and organizational aspects have to be taken into account as well as the technological issues. Thus the implementation‘s process is complex and uncertain; managers have to take up some challenges to successfully introduce a technology. This introduction supposes a mutual adaptation of the technology and the firm to develop a fully working system.
This paper is aimed at analysing the different factors that may impede the successful introduction and management of a technology. First the uncertainty and the complexity of the process will be dealt with. Then, in order to help managers when introducing a new technology, I will discuss some relevant keys to success.
[...] As a firm is not isolated and has to face competitors, the SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) is helpful. Thanks to this managers can elaborate the best strategy around the technology that fits the customers' needs and the firm's features. In order to avoid the costs overrunning the firm has to assess the costs as precisely as possible. The capital budgeting process is the first step, that means calculate the payback or use the discounted cash flow analysis. [...]
[...] The necessity to do a pilot in order to limit the learning costs Leonard-Barton and Kraus identify two reasons to do a pilot before introducing the technology within the whole organization: first, it is an experiment to test the technical feasibility of the project and then it serves as a “credible demonstration model for others units in the organization”. Managers can choose to do the pilot in a no risk site for political reasons. It is better to choose a risky site to prove the feasibility but the risks of failures are higher. [...]
[...] Technological problems explain why technology is so tricky to implement. The technology can be too complex or not enough reliable. Thus, though eBay's business model was hailed as a huge success, it was criticized for its unreliable infrastructure, which resulted in a number of problems in its website. The major bug occurred between June 10 and June when eBay's site had to close during 22 hours. Architects and engineers are responsible for these technological problems. They can neglect the technical feasibility on behalf of innovative design and an impressive architecture. [...]
[...] The introduction and the management of a technology is complex because the technology interacts with several elements These elements that can undermine the technology's implementation can be broken into two categories: internal and external. First some internal factors can undermine the implementation and the management of the technology. Because the implementation of a technology has organizational, managerial and cultural impacts, failures are not rare. When implementing a new technology managers need to consider cultural and organisational implications. The Pacey's Technology Practice framework helps us to understand why these impacts can not be neglected. [...]
[...] A deeper analyse of these factors is necessary to understand why technology is so difficult to implement. The implementation is an expensive and uncertain process general uncertainty of technology means that different views may be held and the situation is typically one of advocacy and political debate in which project estimates are used by interests groups to buttress a particular point of view Freeman (1997), p.263 First of all the introduction of a technology within a company is expensive. Let us use the example of manufacturing technology. [...]
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