Technology implementation is the introduction of new technologies to either an existing organization, or to a larger community, such as a type of business. In this essay, I will define technology implementation, and discuss some specific scenarios where technology implementation can occur. I will then discuss some problems with the definition of technology itself, and go on to outline the processes required to implement technology to organizations, and the greater community. Further, I will finish this essay by discussing the potential problems that may be encountered during technology implementation.
In practice, technology implementation refers to the introduction of new technologies to either an existing organization, or to a larger community, such as a type of business. Technology implementation can refer to the process a school would undergo in order to introduce computers into the classroom. Further, technology implementation can refer to the process required to introduce a new technology to a larger community. For example, the introduction of the Microsoft's operating system as the standard operating system used across North America and the rest of the business world, for both business and personal use, is an example of technology implementation.
Technology plays a major role the daily lives of people all over the world. Perhaps the most commonly cited example of new technology implementation is the relatively recent increase in the use of desktop computers for personal and business use. Interestingly, however, the exact definition of technology can be a potentially contentious issue. How can we discuss technology implementation, without first understanding what technology is?
It is helpful to have a working knowledge of the definition of technology before delving too deeply into the issues surrounding technology implementation. At a first glance, to most North Americans, technology represents high technology; devices like computers, microscopes, electronics, biotechnology and the Internet. Taken even more broadly, most people would argue that technology represents progress, including cloning, animal breeding, and the adoption of new software in the business world. The question is, do these informal "feelings" about technology truly reflect what technology is? Certainly, each perspective on what technology is would result in a different approach to technology implementation.
To help clarify the issue, it may be helpful to turn to a dictionary definition of technology. The word technology comes from the French root, "techne" (Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary) which refers to art and skill. Technology is defined as "the practical application of knowledge" (Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary). Interestingly, under this definition, both high technology (like computers, electronics, and specific biotechnologies) and the fuzzier definition of "progress" (including the process of cloning and new, more efficient means of production) would be considered technology.
For the purposes, of this essay, I will use Merriam-Webster's definition of technology as "the practical application of knowledge." It seems to be a workable definition, one that is neither to broad in scope or too narrow in view. This definition encompasses both the physical aspects of technology, such as a new computer processor, or the process-oriented type of technology, such as the implementation of a newer, more efficient process to create a computer chip.
One of the most interesting aspects of technology implementation are the processes used to implement technology to organizations.
When a new technology is brought into an existing organization, it faces several challenges. Two processes are often used to help this implementation. The operations-oriented stream of implementation focuses on the process of product or technology development. This is the bare-bones practical knowledge, involved in defining when, where, how, and in what forms the technology will be implemented. In contrast, the capability-oriented stream of technology implementation focuses on the knowledge of the technology. This deals more with the abilities of the people and departments within the organization to integrate and successfully use the technology that is to be implemented.
Often, technology is implemented in a series of steps. First, the planning phase ensures that specific goals and needs are kept in mind. The implementation phase occurs when the technology is finally brought into active use within the organization. In the evaluation phase, the impact of the technology, and the success or failure of technology implementation is evaluated. This important, and final phase of technology implementation is often overlooked by organizations, to their loss.
Interestingly, one of the greatest challenges to technology implementation may be the type of technology itself. In The Discipline of Innovation, Peter F. Drucker argues that the best innovations are often the most obvious. These are the innovations that make people wonder why they did not think of the idea, because it was so obvious. Drucker argues that extravagant ideas that are created to completely revolutionize an industry are almost certainly doomed to disaster. Instead he suggests that the best new technologies derive from simple and focused solutions to real problems.
Innovations based on new knowledge have a tendency to have the largest effect on the marketplace. However, it can take decades before even the best innovation becomes translated into a products, process or service (Drucker). In that intervening period, a great deal can go wrong before a promising technology is finally implemented.
There are a large number of barriers to the implementation of technology, some of them obvious, and some more obscure. These include the identification of new technologies, geographic, economic, cultural, and technical dimensions.
Interestingly, one of the greatest barriers to technology implementation can be the initial identification of technologies. While this certainly seems too obvious to mention, it is an often-overlooked problem in technology implementation. How can an organization possibly implement a new technology if it is not even aware it exists? Certainly, there is a great focus in our society on the development of new technologies, but occasionally, the next step, the identification of these technologies, and how they can be applied to a specific business, can be sorely missing.
Geographic concerns can often be a barrier to technology implementation. The implementation of technology in remote locations is often difficult. Specifically, the implementation of technologies in third world countries, due to a lack of infrastructure, and in remote locations, like Alaska, due to the remote geographical location, can be barriers to technology implementation.
Cultural barriers can often be a blockade to the implementation of technology. Certainly, birth control and abortion are forms of technology, as defined as the "practical application of knowledge." The Roman Catholic Church's well-known stance against birth control and abortion has certainly prevented the application of these technologies in countries with a strong foundation in the Catholic religion.
Another interesting, and often overlooked barrier to technology implementation is a technical dimension. At the simplest level, this may simply be an inability to use a technology. For example, software designed to help 90-year-old men improve their cardiovascular fitness level may face great implementation difficulties, as it is safe to say that the majority of 90-year-olds are not highly computer literate.
At a more complex level, the failure of technological innovation may result from an organization's inability, or lack of desire, to change their knowledge base. For example, when computers first became financially viable for small business use, there was a great deal of resistance to using them. This resistance was often based on ignorance of how a computer could help small businesses, and often on the organizations lack of ability to understand such a radical change in accounting practices.
Further, the economic factors like a lack of funding is a major barrier to the successful implementation of technology. While this is certainly a concern in high technology fields, and the business world in general, a lack of funding is often more commonly a barrier to technology implementation in the public sector.
A case study of the implementation of a local area network (LAN) in Monson, MA illustrates the help of additional funding in the successful implementation of new technology into the…