Providence Business News, December 30, 2020 – Providence technology and advisory services firm SQA Group helps business clients handle emerging technologies. What that means is that when new innovations such as artificial intelligence and machine learning are developed, businesses can turn to organizations such as SQA Group to help guide them toward deciding what technology might make sense for their company.

As senior vice president of solutions, Walter McAdams says companies need ways to test new technology, have a budget for such discretionary spending and know when to engage.

PBN: Is emerging technology in and of itself a new concept?

MCADAMS: Emerging technology has always been here and is very much tied to the human story. Since the dawn of time, we take something that has utility to us and put it through a process to make it useful – something that can provide a capability we didn’t have before or frees us from constraint.

Think back to the 18th century and the emergence of the Industrial Age. As new products spun up, some countries jumped first to realize their potential and revolutionize their agriculture and culture. Others viewed the products as nothing more than clever toys. Those that didn’t embrace the “new” fell irreparably behind.

Fast forward 200 years, and nothing has changed. Emerging technology is still here. Some companies and leaders are early adopters; others embrace a wait-and-see approach; and some remain laggards. What has changed is that the risk of falling dangerously behind has never been higher, as the rate of change and transformative effect of it has continued to accelerate.

PBN: Are there any tried-and-true ways to gauge what emerging tech is right for a business?

MCADAMS: You must know that emerging tech exists and recognize how it can have relevance to your line of business. If you don’t understand what it can do today and envision what it could do tomorrow, you are going to be disadvantaged.

Once you have an active imagination and broad interest in it, you need a mechanism to test out ideas quickly. Create an in-house lab to test out “proof-of-concept” ideas in a safe place – with a small-enough scope and as few bureaucratic barriers as possible, so you can get quick results.

Finally, always have a discretionary budget available to support emerging technology. If you stumble upon something that could be big, the secret is to strike while the iron is hot. The ability to pivot funding away from less-impactful, earlier decisions is key.

PBN: What is the S-curve’s role in emerging technology?

MCADAMS: When you look at the adoption of any sort of new breakthrough technology or any new process, there is a typical pattern, and it has to do with adoption over time – what we refer to as the S-curve. At the early stages of something new, adoption and growth are typically very low because there’s a lot to prove out before the application of the new technology or approach is proven viable.

As it’s proven viable, early adopters come forward to use the technology to drive some portion of their business. When they determine how to make that technology viable, we see the beginning of rapid acceleration and adoption. Pretty soon, adoption itself becomes the goal, and that’s when you know that you are well along on the S-curve. Technology starts to become mainstream and if you have not yet adopted that technology, you will be playing catchup.

Understanding the S-curve provides the capability to evaluate the risks, benefits and objections of adopting technology at any place along the curve. Naturally, the risks are higher early on, but very often that’s when the reward is the greatest.


This article originally appeared in the Providence Business News. Click here to read the entire article.