Technology for economic recovery: how not to pawn our future
João Nobre, January 7, 2022
Although the pandemic seems to be far from ending, we are now starting to put in place the mechanisms to recover from the damage done by COVID-19. The European Recovery and Resilience Plan is making available nearly a trillion euros in loans and grants to mitigate the problems created this far, make societies and economies more sustainable, and ensure the members are better prepared for future challenges such as the one we are currently living.
Digital and Climate Action are the twin transitions that detail where countries should aim their objectives. So far, the spending of the approved national plans will go towards climate measures and more than 26% to the digital transition. Technology crosses all the dimensions of the recovery.
In a time when there is so much technology around to choose from, selecting the best one might seem overwhelming. Following the market’s buzzwords, i.e., what we hear in the media, LinkedIn, and several other channels from independent and enterprise communications, might not be the wisest choice, especially when we are trying to get on our feet again through sustainable development growth.
If we are using technology to get back on track, public organizations and companies must focus on three key elements:
- Total Cost of Ownership
- Development swiftness and automation
- Independence from the supplier
1. Total Cost of Ownership
First and foremost, when buying technology, most decision-makers focus on the acquisition price and set aside the maintenance cost. What is the point of investing in a technology with a low acquisition price if it is too expensive to maintain or upgrade? It is not sustainable.
The tag price that comes with a piece of software is pertinent but looking into the maintenance costs of a solution is even more critical – ask yourself: “how much will I have to budget annually to keep my new solutions?”.
Decision-makers MUST follow the Total Cost of Ownership, that is, the cumulative costs of the purchase price and maintenance.
2. Development swiftness and automation
The fact that technology is at the core of everything in the Recovery and Resilience Plans will dramatically increase the demand for skilled labor able to produce digital products and services. For those around the business world in the 1990s, today’s demand for qualified professionals concentrated quickly and immediately will surpass the programmer crisis felt in the software industry to cope with the “bug” of the year 2000.
Manual developments typically take many months or even years to develop or adapt highly complex solutions to specific organizational needs. This is where artificial intelligence and automated software solutions can give a hand. Therefore, it is crucial to opt for a more agile and efficient form of development that empowers those using it and reduces the reliance on human resources. When approaching the market, ask your potential software supplier two essential questions: “How long would it take you to deliver a customized solution?” and “if our necessities change, how long would it take to deliver an updated version of the software?”
We are living in genuinely disruptive times. Before the pandemic, trade wars, Brexit, General Data Protection Regulation (and similar regulations across countries outside the EU), and frequent legislative changes dominated the agenda. Today’s standards require a radically different approach from the manual development we are used to.
3. Independence from the software supplier
Last but not less important is the independence from the buyer after an organization bought a software. Organizations must guarantee they can either develop the solution further on their own or ask other companies’ help.
Getting stuck with the software vendor for further updates is not the greatest decision-making (especially in large and vital systems that require frequent work).
Ask the supplier: “will I keep the source code of the solution after buying the solution?”
Software is too important to be left to organizations that do not want to create added value for your business. If you were given the opportunity to get back on track and grow sustainably, choose your technology and supplier wisely.