By Larry Velez, co-founder & CTO
At Sinu, we standardize the solutions we use across our customers so we can master them and bring more value. Our philosophy is to encorporate proven technology into our platform, know it intrinsically through repetition and experience, and keep it at optimal performance and age.
While we are always testing new technologies, we typically opt for widely-used and tested technologies for our customers. This allows us to tap into the combined knowledge of a large ecosystem of skilled experts if there is an issue. The shared experience of hundreds of our customers also allows us to use that information to provide guidance on how to best use the technology in a wide variety of situations and for dozens of different industries.
We also find that our customers are in a much better place when they don’t keep outdated and/or custom solutions for which there are better alternatives off the shelf. As technology ages, its user base becomes smaller and more niche, causing the cost of maintaining that solution to rise and increasing risk. I am seeing this first hand with my old VW hobby car – as it ages there are fewer and fewer people in the world who know how to fix it and the cost of maintaining it continues to increase, plus it’s more of a risk to drive without causing more wear and inevitably breaking something. Some of the techs at a VW dealership were born after my ‘91 VW GTI was made and have never touched one before, which is why I have had to learn to maintain it myself in my rare spare time. That’s okay for a hobby car which I don’t need every day, but a business that holds onto obsolete technology eventually loses productivity and increases risk. The cost of maintaining old technology goes up over time and most companies try to phase out support in about five years. Even if you try to pay a company to continue to support your old solutions, over time fewer people at the company will be familiar with the older versions and compatibility issues will increase as new software which integrates is introduced all around the solution.
However, the same can happen when solutions are too new; they have a niche audience of early adopters who are willing to ride out the updates to fix the quirks and flaws often inherent before a technology is widely tested. Not only is your team unfamiliar with this new solution, but also there are few experts around to support it. This is why we always advise waiting until a solution has gained enough of a business customer base so that you can easily find experts to support the solution. Like driving a racecar, it’s all about keeping the revs in the right range – not too low and not too high.
It is a tech balancing act. Your business solutions have to be at the optimal age to produce the greatest value for your business and also have to have a large enough audience to be able to support it with a reasonable budget so you don’t have to seek out the rare expert in a very custom or niche solution. So while some traditional solutions might initially look like they don’t have all the bells and whistles of the newer, just-launched start-up app, some will have decades of history and huge eco-systems behind them that brings incredible value.
For instance, today you can go to any temp agency and hire someone trained in Microsoft Office, but you will be hard-pressed to get someone who knows Trello or one of the other newer web-based apps at that same agency.
Balancing the choice of your IT solutions by making sure they have a large enough ecosystem, multiple support options from the maker or from third parties, and are not about to become obsolete is a great way to keep your business solutions delivering the most value to your team.