Being on the Bleeding Edge of HR Technology has its Risks

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Jun 1, 2010

Several years ago, I bought one of the first widely produced netbooks. It was an ASUS EEE PC and my wife was furious.

First, it cost $400 for 4 GB of hard drive space, 1 GB of RAM and a weak processor. The keyboard felt like it was made for a toddler. The screen was about the same size as my Android smartphone. And I think it had less power than my smartphone. It didn’t even come with Windows pre-installed.

Here’s what happened: a year or so later, I upgraded to my current netbook (a HP Mini). Same price as my old EEE PC but a super fast solid state hard drive, 2 GB of RAM, Windows pre-installed and a keyboard I could touch type on. I sold the other netbook but was only able to reclaim a fraction of the original cost.

I love gadgets, and I know you probably have somebody in your life, like me, who just has to have the latest and greatest new gadget. I’ve been holding myself back on an iPad. It has been a struggle. I’m not sure there are support groups for this.

That same sort of desire to have the latest and greatest when it comes to HR technology products is the same sort of thing as me buying that first netbook – it’s bleeding edge of technology but at what price?

So what kind of considerations can you make to avoid a bleeding edge mistake and instead, make the most timely and thoughtful investments in your technology solutions?

Here are a few tips that might help you with your decision:

  • Evaluate Stability – Is the product stable? Is it in production elsewhere or is the vendor going to be essentially beta testing a product on your dime?
  • Feature Necessity – Do you need a particular feature? Does it add value? If you aren’t ready to make use of the technology, it’s better to wait.
  • Added Value – Does the new feature add enough value to justify the cost? In retrospect, purchasing the netbook didn’t offer much bang for the buck.
  • Justify It – Even if you are the final decision maker, imagine justifying it to the owner or to shareholders. How would you do it? Does it make sense?
  • Opportunity Cost – Tying up capital unnecessarily can lead to ruinous results. If you can get the technology cheaper a year from now, can you continue to be competitive until then?

While adapting too slowly to technology can be a serious business gamble, being on the leading edge also has its share of risks as well. Make the right moves and you can stay in front of competition. Make the wrong moves and … well, do you need a lightly used netbook? I think I may know a seller.

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