Deciding on emerging technologies

Whether it’s in QAD’s internal systems or the product delivered to customers, QAD is committed to innovation in all aspects of business. Sorting through all of the information about innovation is not an easy task, but there are methods to do it as efficiently as possible. No single factor outweighs all other factors when QAD decides whether to add or replace technology in its solutions. For every emerging technology that ends up on QAD’s short list, we consider all the following areas in the risk, cost and benefit analysis.

How Can This Emerging Technology Help Customers Improve Business Outcomes?

The first question QAD asks when considering new technologies is always, “How can this emerging technology help customers improve business outcomes?” QAD’s stated goal is, “to help manufacturers achieve a future where your business processes are operating at peak efficiency and perfectly aligned with your strategic goals.” QAD refers to this goal as the Effective Enterprise, a vision that is never attained but underscores a commitment to continuous improvement.

Given the business outcome framework, we ask questions like: Does this new technology increase a manufacturer’s insight into its business process performance? Does it improve collaboration in a business context to produce more accurate supply chain and production plans? Does it help better ensure compliance? Does it help a manufacturer focus more on its business and less on the systems that the business runs on? Does it, overall, improve customer experience, product quality, operational efficiency and decision making?

At QAD, adopting technology for the sake of technology does not work for our manufacturing customers. QAD invests in innovation only when we see the technology resulting clearly in better business outcomes.

Is the Technology A Scalable Solution?

Assuming a new technology shows promise, when does promise turn into reality? QAD needs to see that a technology has reached a high level of dependability before implementing it around the world for several thousand global manufacturers. QAD may test the new technology in our labs, and eventually pilot it with a few select customers or partners, but it must approach flawless execution for full distribution.

The technology must also scale up and down in order to support our largest and most globally diverse customers and, for example, early stage, single site life sciences manufacturers. Not only must the technology be reliable, it must run successfully in the full variety of customer implementations.

How Mature Is The Technology?

QAD has received many awards for customer experience and our 37 years in the manufacturing ERP software business serves as a testament to our focus on our customers’ success – we believe and hope that is what sets us apart. Nonetheless, QAD is a for profit business and the cost of new technology can be high. Therefore, we typically limit emerging technology adoption to technologies that have already passed the exceptionally high price stage of the maturity curve.

Security Is A Must

Customers depend on QAD for secure solutions that protects data privacy, supports audits, meets technology related compliance requirements and addresses ever changing cybersecurity challenges. If a newer technology requires too much special handling to fit into QAD’s current and evolving security scheme, it does not qualify for becoming part of the production stack of QAD solutions. Any evolving enterprise class technology must take into full account the ongoing security challenge, in its design and implementation.

Multiple Technology Sources and Availability

Is the new technology available from only a single source? A technology poses a greater risk of failure at the earliest stage of its adoption. We evaluate that risk for the benefit of our customers. Usually, QAD shies away from technology until it becomes available from multiple sources. If, however, the benefits of the technology are obvious and the likelihood is strong that the technology supplier community will expand rapidly, QAD might adopt an early stage technology. An example was our early support of Linux and virtualization. In the situation where there are only one or a few suppliers, QAD looks closely at the supplier(s) service levels, commitment to support and roadmap before investing.

Lifecycle Factors To Consider

New technologies are not simply developed and deployed, they must also improve, integrate with other technologies and have a clear lifecycle ahead of them for QAD to adopt them on behalf of our customers. Some specific areas of lifecycle we concentrate on include:

  • Release compatibility: we observe the compatibility of technology versions from release to release. Release compatibility is very important for keeping our customers as current as possible with as little disruption as possible.
  • Cross platform support: we prefer technology that matches the diversity of our customers’ operating infrastructure.
  • Supportability and Security: inevitably there are issues from the beginning to the end of a technology’s lifecycle. Can we quickly obtain answers and fixes on behalf of our customers? Is the technology provider keeping abreast of vulnerabilities and releasing security patches promptly?

Ecosystem and Learning

Even when emerging technologies spread to multiple primary suppliers, the technology may lack a strong enough ecosystem for global consumption. QAD prefers to see consultancies, integrators and even other application providers offering training, implementation and related professional services before choosing that technology.

Do you find yourself wading through the seemingly endless new technology coming your way?

How do you weed out the fads from the useful trends? Learn more in my recent white paper.

Tony Winter
With over 20 years in the ERP industry, Tony is responsible for driving QAD’s long-term technology, architecture and product release strategies. When he’s not leading the technology charge at QAD, you can find him spending time with his wife and four children. He also builds software-controlled devices and has a large collection of metal cast puzzles.