As we approach the quarter-way mark of the 21st century, technology continues to play a prominent role across the housing industry. Key capabilities, such as being able to shop for and ‘build’ your home online is getting closer to the mainstream. Smart home technology packages are increasing in scope and adoption. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) products are being integrated throughout the sales, service, and warranty process. While some of these are on the verge of cutting edge, others are or have been mainstream for some time. But here we want to pose the question: when is the juice worth the squeeze?
One key aspect of our role as technologists is to keep abreast of the trends and capabilities not only in our industry but broadly across all industries. Ideally, we are looking for best-fit solutions that not only meet business needs but also fit within budgetary expectations. As a general practice and principle, we should invest in new technologies, new techniques, and new methods. But my general premise is to challenge how we can ensure we focus on the right technologies and for the right amount?
The delicate balancing act rests between adding technology for the sake of a new product, feature, or capability – and the overall costs: How many people need to be trained on the product? Are devices (tablets, phones, computers) needed or do they need to be upgraded? How will the product be supported? All of these questions should be answered up front, before you get too far down the path of putting new tools, products, or services in the hands of users.
One way of navigating that delicate balancing act is to define a Value Statement early in the process. Whether you are doing a trial, proof-of-concept, or a full-blown deployment, it is beneficial to have a Value Statement to rally around. Put simply, it’s the “why” behind the project or the product. Why are we doing this? What are the benefits? And value doesn’t always have to be monetary. It can be as simple as learning more about a technology, or how complicated a technology implementation may be. It could be to get user feedback on whether technology is preferred over manual methods (e.g., signing paperwork). But having that Value Statement helps define “the juice”.