Data is the lifeblood of business operations, so your choice of technology has significant implications. To further complicate matters, the rapid pace of change makes it harder to choose a stack which offers more than a few months of predictability.
So what should you be considering during the screening process?
Ignore the hype
The need to use technology to drive a competitive advantage means that businesses are constantly on the look-out for “the next big thing”. This means that some products become hugely over-hyped – and attract much more attention than they deserve. Focusing on these products because they are popular could mean you ignore technologies that would be much better suited to your situation.
Take Microsoft Silverlight for instance. The product was widely believed to be an enterprise-grade alternative to Adobe Flash and ActionScript – but the technology disappeared as quickly as it arrived. And not before some early-adopters had invested heavily in Silverlight applications.
Looking at products outside the current hype cycle provides you with greater choice – and a good chance at avoiding technologies that are enjoying a brief 15 minutes of fame.
Consider product and vendor lineage
Sometimes technologies die because they are superseded, or because of low uptake. But occasionally technologies are retired by the vendor with little or no warning.
Google has a track record of cancelling popular products, jeopardising the operations of any business using them. When the QPX Express API was closed, blocking access to Google Flights data, Fareportal, Skyscanner and Skypicker were all forced to rapidly re-engineer their systems at significant cost.
As you assess potential technologies always take a good look at the heritage and track record of the company behind it.
Beware vendor lock-in
Traditional hardware and software vendors, like Dell EMC or Oracle, include an element of lock-in as a way to ensure future sales. By making it difficult to leave their tech stacks, these OEMs create an artificial threshold that can outweigh the initial cost benefits of migration – so customers stay locked-in for the long term.
Open Source technology stacks provide a way to avoid this trap. Your business can use code in any way you choose, adding and removing functionality to customise applications to match your processes. And if the company behind the product fails, you are free to maintain and use the code for as long as you need.
For maximum flexibility and future-proofing you should always choose Open Source applications wherever possible. Proprietary systems could cause serious problems at a later date.
Speed of development and deployment
Digital transformation projects are supposed to help your business adjust to changing market conditions more quickly, using data and technology to make informed strategic decisions. To keep pace with change, you need a technology stack capable of flexing just as quickly.
Older, monolithic systems are usually incapable of the level of flexibility required. Instead you should be looking for smaller, modular platforms – or even those built on micro-services.
Choose your advice carefully
Almost everyone has an opinion on the best choices for your business – but not all come from a pure motive. Many technology vendors make recommendations that prioritise their profits over your needs for instance. Other internal sources make recommendations based on their own limited experience or personal preferences.
By all means listen to every relevant recommendation – but make sure that you seek input from an independent, vendor-agnostic source too.