Launch-First Mentality: Heresy or Norm?

MITSloan published a new paper “Implement First, Ask Questions Later (or Not at All)“. It says: “Companies used to spend years clarifying business requirements before they would even think of launching new software. Today, cheaper cloud-based apps mean that implementation decisions are made on the fly — and there’s no going back.” 

More quotes: For decades, companies required their IT teams to identify, model, and validate business requirements before writing a line of code or adopting a new technology platform, product, or service. Today, that approach seems almost quaint. Companies no longer build giant flowcharts, analyze tasks, or model business requirements in advance of deploying new technology. They just pilot and adopt — often before they have a clear idea of the business problem they’re trying to solve. Once, this launch-first mentality would have been considered heresy. Yet it has become the norm, driven by the accelerating pace of technology change, the fear of losing market share to disruptive new players, and the ease with which new technologies can be implemented through cloud-based delivery. This is a challenging environment, particularly for tradition-bound organizations. But it’s the new reality and CIOs must adapt, or they risk permanently falling behind the competition.

Today’s adoption models assume that emerging new technologies drive requirements, not the other way around — which is why many tech solutions get discovered as part of the implementation process rather than in advance of it. Said a little differently, many companies have no clear idea what they will do with specific technologies but believe that there’s huge potential in the technology that will become clear over time and that they have no choice but to quickly adopt emerging technology if they want to digitally transform their companies to remain competitive.

Our findings show that the pressure to move fast in technology adoption is not coming from the C-suite or senior management but from business units closer to the action. The technology is changing so quickly — and affecting operational functions several layers below them in the org chart — that most senior leaders can’t keep up with recent advances, let alone develop a strategic approach to their deployment.

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