In the movie Field of Dreams a disembodied voice admonishes the main character: “If you build it, they will come.” While in the movie this refers to a baseball diamond in the middle of an Iowa cornfield, many in IT apply the same logic to the latest technical wizardry.
Examples abound in the world of new and emerging technologies. From so-called “Web 2.0” technologies to the newest collaboration and communications technologies, these gadgets are pitched as solutions to problems from market share to poor internal communications. Workers that are loathe to raise their heads above their cubicle wall and exchange ideas with coworkers will magically become the next great communicator when you sprinkle some IT pixie dust on the problem. If you build it, the IT industry tells us, they will come.
While Field of Dreams ends happily, and “they” do indeed come, the real world is usually not so magical. Buying a collaboration package, creating a blog or firing podcasts out into the ether must be part of an overall solution to a business problem. Problems that are solved solely through technical changes are few and far between, and the technology should be the icing on the proverbial cake that solves the problem, rather than the cake itself. If your people are not communicating, find out why, change their behaviors, offer training, and then install some technology to shift the organizational changes into overdrive. If you want to market to the Myspace generation, figure out if it’s a market worth perusing, do your due diligence, and then start working the social networking scene as part of your overall marketing strategy. If you research it, dovetail it with your business strategy, get the right people aligned, determine your audience and then start installing new technology, they will come.