Monday, 16 January 2012

What is the RIGHT technology?

One of things I strongly believe in is using the right technology for solving the right problem. You can often find (understandably) that IT professionals look for solutions using technologies they understand best which can lead to inappropriate decsions being taken. "When all you have is a hammer....".

However, just how do you define the right technology?

An analogy. Whats the best way of buying music? Is it online or in HMV (other retail outlets are available)? Now, for price and convenience then online is pretty tough to beat. But what if you don't have a computer or don't know how to use one? There may be a premium associated with buying in the high street but its still the best understood method there is - everyone knows how to buy from a shop.

I've been involved with a particular application written entirely on SQL Server technologies and its an impressive implementation. Its fast and reliable and for someone familiar with the technology entirely supportable. However, its not me that has to use it. The "customer" has limited technology skills and yet is tasked with driving the application with recurring difficulty and as a consequence, there is a feeling that the application is not robust. The fact is, that the application is entirely robust, but is not built for a technology-light person to use.

Previous to the SQL implementation, there was an Excel equivalent which was less robust and performant. However, the users fully understood how to work it and were much more comfortable with it even at the cost of longer runtime. Asked to use its Excel predecessor, I would have probably claimed it not robust as a result of not being comfortable using that technology. Same issue, different technology.

We need to make the right technology choices and this doesn't just mean what is the best technology for the job. First and foremost, applications need to be fit for purpose and usable by the customer even if thats at the expense of the most elegant technology solution. If customers have no experience or understanding of a particular technology, then we shouldn't be building solutions that require that skillset. Simple.

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