Business Considerations Behind Your Web Technology.
“Information technology and business are becoming inextricably interwoven. I don’t think anybody can talk meaningfully about one without talking about the other” – Bill Gates
Gates’ statement has never been truer than it is today. So much of business strategy today is dictated by what is possible to do with the technology of the day. Business owners are being forced to make technology choices every day and there is a genuine fear that the wrong choice could negatively impact their web application, portal or site deeply enough to cause active business disruption. This then suggests that the choice of the technology platform for your web application or website is no longer a purely technology decision. What, then, are the business considerations that should go into the technology decisions related to your web application?
This is in some ways the old “make or buy” decision. Does your business strategy require a site / app that can go live quickly with a reasonably standard set of features – in which case a ready template could be the answer? On the other hand, if you need a unique look and feel and features that are not commonplace then you may have no choice but to consider a completely custom development. What you lose in development time you gain in flexibility in this particular game of choice.
Need for Features:
Your business may demand that the app / site be capable of performing some very specific activities or at some very specific capability level. Is real-time updating required? Is the effort likely to be calculation intensive? Is performance important? Or is it important to achieve scale? How fast does your business need that scale to be achieved? Answers to these questions will help you pick from the technology platforms out there – if the platform addresses your business need squarely then that’s the right choice.
How fast do you need to get your offering in front of your customers? Is the timeline set in stone, as it were, or is there scope for some flex? Different technology platforms behave differently. If what you value are easy and fast development and a predictable effort then maybe a more established technology platform that has been well documented may be what you need. Driven by the business needs you may be tempted to consider a relatively newer technology that promises much but may carry with it the risk of unforeseen pitfalls if your timelines are more flexible.
The economic argument:
Cost is a primary factor in the choice of technology. It is important to take into account the total cost of ownership of the technology platform under consideration – not only the initial outlay but also appropriate allocations for the cost of maintenance and support and if need be a charge for the effort involved at your end over the development lifecycle. An Open Source platform may involve lower upfront investment but could cost more in the long run once you factor in ongoing maintenance and the cost of support from a loosely formed community. Proprietary technologies will likely cost more to start with but may end up being less expensive to maintain and with, perhaps, more dependable support.
Market Support to the technology:
The technology landscape is littered with stories of technologies that died a sudden death after an initial meteoric rise. Sometimes the hype cycle becomes so dominant that organizations make technology choices because they feel they have to rather than because they need to. As Stewart Brand said so eloquently, “Once a new technology rolls over you if you’re not part of the steamroller, you’re part of the road.” The problem with such choices is that you could be stuck with a technology platform that vanishes midway through your development effort. The support for the technology in the marketplace, their reviews, and their heartfelt acceptance matters a lot when you look around to make your choice because it makes the longevity of the technology more likely and this has to be a key consideration in any technology choice you make.
Carrie Snow said, “Technology… is a queer thing. It brings you great gifts with one hand, and it stabs you in the back with the other.” You would do well to remember that in the end the technology is just a tool – it’s up to you to make it work for you.