Implementation of Externally Acquired Technology

The implementation phase takes place after products, services, or ideas have been bought or sold.  Technology companies offer and sell services to assist with this process.  Smaller technologies that are easy to use do not have implementation services and it is up to the buyer or user(s) to implement and integrate it into their daily lives or business functions.  For example, Microsoft, Inc. sells software, but doesn’t tell businesses how to best use it, but provides software training.  Some technologies cannot be purchased and self-implemented, meaning, it requires professional expertise to install and manage the technology until the buyer and the system itself becomes certified as operational.  The same practice is used in the medical field; patients cannot obtain prescription medication without a doctor’s written or electronic approval by a licensed physician, but because of medication management and healthcare systems, drug or procedure effectiveness and patient outcomes are not fully captured and the drug or procedure fully perfected in real world implementations.  Whether the technology lacks, or process lacks, it creates an industry of pharmaceuticals and not a world-health strategic goal of proof and reduced sickness, injury, and death.  This makes metrics a component of a critical reporting process that is required by technology that is used not just at the National Institute of Health (NIH), but also each Doctor’s office, and patient’s office or home – devices.  There are organizations in between that must also be considered but won’t be listed because this is not a scientific paper on what organizations manage health, how clinical trials work and where Technology falls short, but an example of how numbers and reporting, as well as results are insufficient and a continuous cycle because Technology is not fully utilized and completely implemented.

Obtaining technology might appear simple, but there is an evaluation process that companies should go through before making decisions, not only because it’s a product investment, but because it changes the way business is done, which changes people, processes, and profits.  Clearly, evaluation and control should be ongoing (White & Bruton, 2017).  These processes are both internal and external evaluations of existing systems, capabilities, industry options, needs, and possibly a few rounds of professional evaluations and presentations by the technology providers or resellers.  Government agencies have a formal procurement process that starts with a Request for Information (RFI), followed by a Request for Proposal (RFP) and also have contracts and sales channels setup to purchase computer technology from a selected set of qualified and certified dealers.  The same processes exist in business, but the technologies are sold as individual components and software solutions, with many companies not knowing what they need, budget for, or plan for until contacted by a sales agent, or a proposal brought to them by a qualified professional, either a paid internal employee, or an external agent.  Obtaining technology in the computer marketplace is easy if a company knows what it needs and has a plan to invest, train, and maintain, but these are tasks often done individually to suit the needs of the business and not the requirements of the computer science and technology industry.  For Worldwide Technology to be successful, prioritization, compatibility and capability are its top critical factors, but it requires a global R&D, acquisition, and implementation strategy to ensure all systems work correctly, beyond a computing device, a network, and its basic peripherals.  This includes the software industry and business solutions, but with it comes world change or advancement, which must be done without corruption, high costs, and high risk.

Technology Integration

Integrated systems are interconnected and share the capabilities and data of other systems.  Currently, there are electronic data transfers that take place in Financial and Supply chain systems, but few businesses are integrated with each other; all operating using individual software to manage their operations, showing few standardized business processes beyond Geographical and Financial Management, Supply, Delivery, and Communication methods.  New technology changes this by offering integrated systems where data sharing creates efficiencies and invaluable insight to industries, making our worldwide economy or even national economy more predictable and controllable; a requirement to avoid poverty, another great depression, and other financial and world dysfunctions brought into the marketplace from failed planning, or inability to follow standardized processes, procedures, and laws for commerce.  Failure to implement unmanned aircraft systems promptly and correctly, or flight control systems resulted a major war and event called 9/11.  Too many freedoms, options, and too much or not enough control causes similar results.  Failure to properly buy, sell, and implement technology can have even worse outcomes, as evident by COVID-19 because the premise was and might still be, that something bad must happen, or something must break to buy something new or replace something that already works with better technology.  It might also be based on a faulty premise that war fuels the economy and uncovers national insecurities which prompt the development of new revolutionary ideas.  These are old ways of thinking that must also be upgraded, just like Technology.  While voice activated assistive devices appear to be one of the most amazing inventions to the consumer, to the computer scientist and innovator, it is a waste of manufacturing space and engineering time.

If the computer science industry informed business professionals that they are required to buy a set number of database licenses for each data manager in its business, without explaining evolution of typists to data managers onward to business process engineers, and validators, or if they even make those licenses available and propose a sale, it would mislead the potential buyer or customer unless it fully understood the business requirements and plans, as well as its ability to utilize the licenses.  It must also offer ongoing services that are aligned with Technology leaders, scientists, boards, and panels that evaluate the Technology industry, inventions, innovations, and ideals on a global level, beyond the project or ‘capability’ optional sales industry.  If they skip the automation analysis phase, they now pay high employment rates, plus the cost of technology because they ‘didn’t know’ how software changes business requirements and failed to utilize it to its fullest potential.  The problem exists in that software sales continue, against the advice of computer science industry professionals, either because they are not aware there are integration projects in the works and that a better strategy exists that include large integrated systems, rather than a one for one software system sale, which we currently see.  Why spend money on short term needs and wants, working site by site, when long term investment is required to make real valuable global change?  This requires a change in business understanding and viewpoint:  Not all technology is available for purchase, and not all technology is optional, just as not all development is optional and must be paid a high price for, some is required and necessary for the protection of the world to avoid disaster, yet some professionals still think it’s okay for buyers and users to operate in insecure and unprotected environments, making security and protection an option available for a price, under the false assumption that Technology is part of free commerce.

Ideals of Strategic Technology and Innovation must shift from a ‘company’ perspective to a national and global perspective to create integrated products and solutions.  It must not remain solely focused on profitability or environmental factors and it must not also continue without a secure structure of design, engineering, testing, and production, as well as an implementation plan.  Beyond implementation requires review, testing, training, and change management, but not on the ‘software’ version or hardware maintenance schedule planning of simplistic upgrades with miniscule changes and advances in industry and the field of computer science.  It must consider taking a non-industrialized or segmented business strategy.   Enterprise-wide systems change not only individual processes, but overall strategic goals and the management of an organization.  New tools or technology brings new insights and enables faster, more informed decisions.  Not only does technology change the way people do their daily tasks, but the improved decision capabilities and insight, brings new ideas and opportunities.  All of this must be managed while staying focused on strategic goals, which might also change at any point in an implementation.  Strategic goals don’t and won’t stay the same after an Enterprise-wide system has been bought because new systems bring new efficiencies, measurements, and new ways of doing things that don’t exactly align with old goals and practices which necessitates the need for change management.  Many of these systems automate old manual data gathering and reporting, freeing up much time because of improved management.  New technologies also bring new levels of accuracy and ways to view information, enabling managers to have answers faster, without long meetings or heavy tasking to evaluate information.  This enables management to create better forecasts and even possibly change their structures to support new innovative ideas, such as historical business studies, trends, comparative reports, and other comparisons which give more insight and make more time for product or process improvement. 

Innovative Evaluation & Use of Technology

Virtual teleconferencing software with collaboration tools not only reduce travel costs and increases work availability, but also provides an information tracking system of meetings, agreements, and other important items.  The technology is seen as ‘communication technology’ when it has potential to integrate with data management systems for scheduling, recording, and storing information, or being part of a ‘stage’ in workflow software systems that manage business processes.  Using technology as sold or solely for its intended purpose limits innovation but allowing any buyer or owner to add on to the functionality of certain devices causes dysfunction in the Technology sector if not managed correctly with the right group of people.

The Software Development Life Cycle
           
If every company followed the Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC) for customization, implementation, and management of its software, hiring computer professionals to design and implement its own solutions, then it has potential to destroy the company, economy, as well as any plans to create an integrated worldwide system of commerce, international markets, beyond a global economy. 

          This cycle can be followed as a standard process for the management and evaluation of technology, adapted for the functions and tasks of each business or agency.  Development tasks or initiatives should be restricted to only software providers, where the development tasks can be adapted to gain insight or scientific use of metrics for system improvement.  The life cycle can be adapted to personnel for improved processes and understanding of the new system, its features, uses, and functions until fully operational.  It is true that Technology drives process and procedure and is implemented by qualified computer professionals and not users.  Technology professionals can not be individually assigned to departments without integration with all aspects of the Technology; individualization creates disconnection, duplication, and inconsistency.  Hiring a staff of Microsoft Certified Professionals to implement new technologies works if the technology is used to its fullest potential, but it is expensive and temporary.  The certified professionals are better employed at Research and Development companies and employed to professionally manage technology changes on a global scale, rather than company by company since the Technology allows open and non-standardized use and programming.  While the software offers much leeway and freedom to develop systems, it also creates opportunity for random and varied solutions which becomes a maintenance and security problem, negatively affecting the learning and technology advancement community if there is no ability to share design and programming works.  An individualized approach to Technology implementation creates a non-connected environment, with only the Internet and custom information transport mechanisms as the means to integrate.  Many businesses do not utilize the full potential of their software systems, perhaps because of lack of talent, money, or direction.

While global economies are important, it is not the only technology that the world benefits from.  Intellectual advancements, communications, travel, and other systems must be managed on a global scale to utilize technology to its fullest potential; not by selling older versions to less economically advanced countries, but by following a global implementation strategy of secure and valuable technologies.  Also, not every company or nation can or should lead and direct technology decisions, but they should be empowered to purchase or implement the right products, some being required to be in business or operation.

Pre-Acquisition Decision Considerations

Before ‘acquiring’ technology, businesses, and professionals review systems, identify needs, budgets, balance wants, and evaluate how it will change or help business.  It’s a simple process, with many unknowns, thus the need to manage risk.  As projects proceed, unknowns are reduced, and more certainty and consistency are built in and proven once it operates consistently for a set period.  Decisions to ‘acquire’ or ‘procure’ are based on references, demonstrations, and decision maker’s abilities to see how it ‘could’ work in their organization, knowing risks arise in implementation that increase cost, as well as the fact that new needs are discovered, as well as new problems, requiring more time and money.  Deciding whether they must also acquire talent and have the money to pay for it and for how long is also a factor, all managed by how bad they want or need the Technology.  Few organizations take time out to review current systems and shop for solutions on their own and few organizations seek to hire computer scientists to solve individual and small business problems.  Rarely do business managers and executives conduct industry comparative technology analysis and prototype before investing, buying, leasing, or considering the development of something similar for profit or to solve a business problem where all the product solutions are high priced systems.   Executives, business leaders, and managers are often contacted by professionals with solutions who know the problems often before the businessperson does.  This is called Technology innovation – knowing and solving problems or preventing them using technology and becoming more automated and creative – changing the business design for enjoyment, profitability, and health.  Business terminology and ‘market’ analysis and competition, including investment or merger and acquisition strategies play roles in the valuation of companies after technology is implemented because it changes the worth and value of business and its contribution, impact, or potential for other global initiatives.

Below are some keyword considerations for Technology Acquisition.  Although not a complete and sequential list of items, it is simply keywords that summarize what happens in the acquisition process – the process can be simplified by a simple OEM or Certification Process.  Technology acquisition is not a ‘keyword’ strategy, it is a process of evaluation of needs, existing capability, business and industry offerings, management, and systems shopping task to see if something exists or if the need and benefit is great enough to develop something; either to profit through software or technology sales, or to improve systems and make process and procedures or practices more efficient, effective, prosperous, healthy, and enjoyable.

IntegrationLeadershipAlignmentExecution
Capabilities EvaluationMotivationFits with all levels of Strategic GoalsSkill
Leveraging Data/FunctionalityManagementStandard Systems ManagementTiming
Gap AnalysisStandard ProcessesAligns with Profit or Investment GoalsManagement
System, Process, Policy, and Data UseInnovation & Change ManagementMultiple Use, ApplicationAcceptance and Use
Known DependenciesCompany and Team Specific GoalsManagement StrategiesMaintenance
Requirements, Needs, PrioritizationRisk ManagementCompany and Personnel GoalsTeam Building, Changing
TrainingInvestment – Cost/BenefitIndividual and Collective Capital – GrowthGain Efficiencies
CustomizationTrainingKnowledge sharingMetrics
CompatibilitySpeedTrust 
Due DiligenceLessons Learned / SharingOrganizational Change 
Evaluation, Control, Metrics

The current problem of ‘technology’ sales exists where there is an abundance of solutions, few are integrated, and many require the hiring or acquisition of development or technology professionals to implement systems or use cumbersome data transfer methods, as well as business process change methods to adapt to existing software.  Customization also presents serious problems in systems support.  Since there are so many solutions available, business is guaranteed to move away from working consistently together, to becoming vastly different, non-standardized, creating more unnecessary work to report, stay compliant, protected, secure, and well managed throughout society and across the globe.  This not only causes disorder, but dysfunction and failure to operate as a functional unit, nation, or business with a technology portfolio forced to function with larger non-connected systems.  Executives and managers must understand the magnitude of change and commitment when approving the use of new technology and processes; the same exists for the hiring of technologically advanced employees; it will not be business as usual and that disruption comes at a cost, with many long-term benefits.

There are other technology problems in supportability due to the enablement of custom programming.  Businesses and organizations buy software and hire professionals to customize it to fit their specific needs and business processes.  While beneficial for the company to not be forced to adapt to the way software or technology is designed, it becomes a support issue when the seller or reseller requires special training and extra time to manage custom configurations or non-standardized processes.  This type of support plan is costly and is not guaranteed for long term success.  Another problem exists in the design of security functions of current Technology systems, requiring excessive amounts of verification and validation of personal information, often creating unwanted and unnecessary locking out of people from their own accounts, lengthy support phone calls, and a non-personal level of customer support.  Because products like Office 365 or Microsoft Office does not offer customized support and training for how it can make businesses more efficient and effective, it is not utilized to its fullest potential – creating great profits for Microsoft, Inc., but not much visible profit for its end users, unless they hire full time professionals to perform innovative technology design and programming tasks.

Purchasing software to supplement or assist in management of a business is only helpful in conjunction with a Business Process Re-Engineering task and an evaluation of existing resource utilization, both human and computer, and the planned management of new ways of doing business.  Many must be sold or told to change or in other words, business lacks technology innovation if not regularly looking for ways to improve.  Some software systems cause more work and are unwelcome by staff because of the learning curve, additional set of tasks, and possibly fear of no longer being needed or employed.  Therefore, full evaluation must be done to first see how business processes can be improved with automation and then shop for a technology solution.  Buying and adapting works, but can result in wasted time and money, underutilization, improper use, and can even increase employee turnover if not done correctly.  Therefore, Data Sharing Evaluations, Collaboration, Streamlining, and Integration studies are best before considering any acquisition, but how does a company know they are flawed or considered a top contender if they have nothing to compare it to?

Components to Innovation Strategy

There are five process components to an innovation strategy:  1) Strategy; 2) Ideas; 3) Testing; 4) Prioritization; 5) Delivery (Solverboard, 2021).  Solverboard suggests mapping each idea to business goals to maintain strategic alignment.  Opening idea generation to the entire staff and testing them before commitment is vital.  Solverboard also recommends prioritizing each idea or project based on factors relevant to your operations:  cost, ambition, timing, innovation, type and more (Solverboard, 2021).  Solverboard’s Innovation Strategy is not far off from the basic scientific method:  1) asking a question about something you observe, 2) doing background research to learn what is already known about the topic, 3) constructing a hypothesis, 4) experimenting to test the hypothesis, 5) analyzing the data from the experiment and drawing conclusions, and 6) communicating the results to others (Science Buddies, 2021).  A more standardized approach to innovation should be to just use the scientific method for ‘trial’ periods or questions on how to improve and implement new ideas.  All ideas need to be tested and proven, with special reports that are convincing and adoptable.

If a company hires a Human Resources professional who is innovative and technologically savvy, then it should expect to employ them to improve their departmental functions company wide.  Hiring professionals with the expectation that they must conform to company practices and procedures leaves employees feeling less empowered, therefore the hiring expectation must change from a ‘replacement of old employees’ or the ‘fulfillment of a requisition’ to the hiring of a new professional who brings new ideas, talent, and improvements to the organization, with the readiness for system change, not just human change or role fulfillment.  Often, tasks shift when new ideas are introduced, requiring investment, or restructuring of task ordering and assignment; this is viewed as a Technology investment and executives and managers need to be open to these ideas if they want to be an innovative and growing company.  We are considered technologically advanced yet have no way to create a collective voice beyond a manual ballot of issues brought forth by political candidates using traditional campaign methods.  Even with the creation of social media tools, we still lack the ability to manage and summarize concerns, issues, and revolutionize our lives with Technology, instead we are focused on Artificial Intelligence and Self Driving or Autonomous vehicles.

Summary
        Innovation brings change, and such change should be tested and proven before implementation.  Technology creates change and when done correctly and to its fullest potential, business practices and the economy changes, which requires investment and management.  Acquiring technology is not a simple over the counter purchase.  It is also not a transaction that takes place in one day and completely utilized with immediate results in the same day or next day. 

References

The Management of Technology and Innovation, A Strategic Approach, Third Edition, M. White
     & G. Bruton, Cengage Learning, Inc. 2017, 2011

Solverboard, Innovation management: key frameworks and ideas you need to know, 2021,
     accessed via the Internet at https://www.solverboard.com/blog/innovation-management on
     October 28, 2021

Science Buddies, Steps of the Scientific Method, 2021 accessed via the Internet at
     https://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/science-fair/steps-of-the-scientific-
     method on October 28, 2021

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By Sheri