Are You Amassing Technology Debt?

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December 10, 2013

The interest rates get higher the longer you wait to adopt new event technology Tech_Web Technology debt is the concept of borrowing time to avoid making a transition to a new technology. Like all forms of debt, it comes with interest. As time goes on, accruing this interest becomes more costly. In the events industry, technology adoption does not move as fast as the latest design trends. The irony is striking: An event might have the most popular photo booth concept when just around the corner guests are being checked in with clipboards; A meeting room, diagrammed by hand, might have oxygen-enhanced air pumped in; A gala might raise millions of dollars through a silent auction powered by pen and paper. Event professionals that continue to use antiquated tools are amassing technology debt that will put their business and reputation at risk unless they embrace change. There are three reasons why rejecting new technologies poses a risk for event professionals:

  1. Human Error. As events become more intricate and complex, the probability for human error increases. A diagram that's not to scale, an outdated printout of the guest list or a volunteer that is out of the loop can ruin months of planning.
  2. Reputation Damage. As clients become more demanding, the need to differentiate and impress them grows. Not using the latest tools or not having the most polished deliverables can hurt a planner's reputation.
  3. Budget Constraints. As corporate budgets tighten, the amount of money available to produce events decreases. Ruling out technology solutions that can shave off hundreds of labor hours is quite simply irresponsible.

Now before you jump in and make any drastic changes, consider the following framework for managing technology debt.

  1. Awareness. Understand the fact that a tradeoff is indeed taking place and that debt is being incurred.
  2. Assessment. Calculate the "interest rate" of the debt. What will happen if you delay the adoption of new technology? What will happen if you don't act at all?
  3. Action. If the interest rate is low compared to the perceived value do not proceed. If the interest rate is high then act as soon as possible.

Run the above exercise on different components in your event planning process.  Identify the areas where you are most at risk and start there first. Once identified, here are a few tips to get the most out of your technology vendors:

  • Try out anything before you buy it. If your trial runs out before you've had the opportunity to take it out for a full spin, ask for an extension.
  • Ensure the vendor has an adequate customer care program with emergency contact information.
  • Find out what guarantees the vendor has to ensure your success. These can include everything from a money-back guarantee to an insurance policy.
  • Build a relationship with the Account Executive at your selected vendor. At the end of the day, we are all in a relationship-based business and the connections we make with one another are critical to our success.

New technology can be risky but accruing too much technology debt can be even riskier. Make decisions regarding new technologies carefully but don't overanalyze into paralysis. Your clients will appreciate you for trying new things, their guests will appreciate you for new experiences, and you will have more fun doing your job.

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