Should you jump on board with the new tech?

16 Jan 2015

So it's out. The new technology everybody's been talking about. In fact, it's so new that as many people are blogging about how people won't use it as are blogging about how they will. But the burning question every company is dealing with is 'should I get one and what will I do with it?'

Actually, we should be asking those questions in the reverse order. If you decided to go with the new technology, what would you do with it and what would it gain you? Is that return on investment worth the initial cost of switching, integrating, purchasing, etc.?

Now that I've answered the question with another question, how about answering it with an actual answer? For most companies, in most situations, the answer is going to be a resounding 'no'. Of course, there's always the possibility that you're not 'most companies' and this is not 'most situations.'

When the answer is 'yes'

The closer you get to thinking that your answer to this question is 'yes,' the more you have to be careful. It is this lack of care that saw many companies switching to or choosing Ruby on Rails four or five years ago, whether it was right for them or not (the companies that are now hiring armies of RoR developers probably made the right choice, but at the very least, they're now stuck with it), and now finds them scrambling to find someone to maintain their web site due to the relative scarcity of freelance RoR developers, as many of them either got day jobs (some writing RoR) or switched to node.js when it became the new hotness.

Consequences of not acting

Of course, the complete opposite strategy to using new technology is also dangerous. Old technology, whether approaching end of life or 'supported for life' may be well-tested, but it also tends not to be flexible to current capabilities and user expectations. Oddly enough, the scarcity of developers is also a problem, as evidenced by banks still using COBOL programs and several companies still using Classic ASP for their web apps.

What's the Verdict?

So, to summarize, there is no one-size-fits-all answer. The new hotness may be right for some companies, especially ones who need to take advantage of new features being delivered. For the majority of us, it's a safe play (but of course, where's the fun in that?) to wait just long enough to see whether it catches on.


photo by Ryan Mcguire